Naturalized French in 1937, the artist took advantage of the receptions to which she was invited in the embassies to gather intelligence for counter-espionage.

“It is France who made me who I am, I will keep her eternal gratitude. You can dispose of me as you wish ”: by offering his services in the fall of 1939 to a counter-espionage officer, the star of the cabaret Josà © phine Baker resisted. “From the start of the Second World War, Josà © phine Baker led a double life: a music hall artist at the front and rear, and an intelligence agent animated by a fierce patriotism ”towards his adopted homeland, says researcher Gà © raud Là © tang, from the Defense Historical Service (SHD), which keeps the archive files of his resistance activities , intelligence and air force officer.

Her fame allows her to move around, to cross borders in a group because an artist involves a troop, while in France everyone is controlled

Naturalized French in 1937 after her marriage to Jean Lion, a Jewish industrialist, the artist put her musical talent to work from the first months of the conflict to entertain the deployed French soldiers on the Maginot line. And take advantage of the receptions to which she is invited in the embassies to gather intelligence for the counter-espionage. Victim of segregation in her native America, the black Venus refused in 1940 to sing in front of the Germans in occupied Paris. After General de Gaulle’s June 18 Appeal, it served as a cover for Jacques Abtey, head of military counter-espionage in Paris in the Free French Forces service. Having become her “impresario”, he moves with her, under the false identity of Jacques HÃ © bert, with other undercover agents.

“Her fame allows her to move around, to cross borders in a group because an artist involves a troop, while in France everyone is controlled”, explains GÃ © raud LÃ © tang. The information collected is written in sympathetic ink, invisible on his musical scores. The artist sometimes carries these compromising notes herself in her bra.

“It’s very convenient to be Josephine Baker. As soon as I am announced in a city, the invitations rain. TO?? Seville, Madrid, Barcelona, ​​the scenario is the same. I am fond of embassies and consulates which are full of interesting people. I note carefully on my return (…). My customs passages are always carried out in contraction. The customs officers give me big smiles and actually ask me for papers, but they are autographs! ”, The dancer later amused himself in the autobiographical work Josà © phine, published by Robert Laffont editions.

Settled in North Africa from 1941, the star, exhausted by this double life, fell seriously ill. But in 1943 she resumed her artistic activity in the service of the Allied troops while collecting intelligence for General de Gaulle’s staff. “The Allies did not say everything to the Free French Forces”, notes the historian. In June 1944, she nearly died in a plane crash off Corsica. “The castaways (…) saw a detachment of Senegalese sharpshooters arrive swimming,” relates the march diary of the ministerial air liaison group, colored drawings in support, signed in 1946 by the hand of the artist.

Engaged in the female forces of the Air Force with the rank of second lieutenant, she landed in Marseille in October 1944. The singer gives concerts near the front for the soldiers as for civilians. After May 8, 1945, she will perform in Germany in front of deportees released from the camps. In 1946, she received the Resistance medal. Then she was offered the Legion of Honor as a civilian, but she wanted it as a military one. His request is supported by several personalities from Free France. “French by adoption, gave a magnificent example to the French union”, wrote General Martial Valin, companion of the Liberation.

“There was in Josà © phine Baker a very strong desire not to be a singer in the service of the armed forces but a fighter who sings. This combatant status is an existential quest for her, ”emphasizes Gà © raud Là © tang. A compromise will finally be found: in 1957, the artist will be decorated with the Legion of Honor as a civilian but also with the Croix de Guerre with palms. “Our mother served the country, she is an example of republican and humanist values” but “she always said:” I only did what was normal “? ??? “, told AFP his eldest son, Akio Bouillon.

the 11/30/2021 at 12:14 PM

Josà © phine Baker was an exceptional woman, no doubt, however her contribution during the war was done safely in Morocco between 1941 and 1944. Yes, she did her duty but we must put it into perspective. compared to other French women who fought in more dangerous conditions and who often lost their lives there. Simone Segouin, still alive, fought and shot down 2 German soldiers at the age of 18 and risked her life in several missions. She is known for the photo of her machine gun in hand in the streets of Chartres and Paris. She received the Croix de Guerre but probably no Pantheon for her.

the 11/30/2021 at 11:59

the 11/30/2021 at 11:55

Of course, Josà © phine Baker was a resistance among so many other very courageous women. I’m not sure that without her skin color she went back to the Panthà © on at night

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