“Matricule 31000, the courage of the shadows”, on Histoire TV: deportees like no other


Resistance fighter Danielle Casanova, image from the documentary


The scene is incredible and seems to have been born from the imagination of a screenwriter looking for a shocking scene: having just disembarked from the wagon, one freezing morning in January 1943, French deportees entered the Auschwitz camp singing the Marseillaise ! Of these 230 non-Jewish French women, only 49 will return from hell.

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A Marseillaise sung at Auschwitz? An incredible act, which nevertheless took place. It is the story of these women, mostly resistance fighters and many communist activists, that Frédéric and Niagara Tonolli have chosen to tell in this fascinating documentary, which opens Figra (which takes place in Douai from May 30 to June 4). The history of the convoy says “31,000”, in reference to the registration number that will be tattooed on their arm. The only convoy of non-Jewish French women sent to a death camp.

Using testimonies from survivors, some recorded twenty or thirty years ago, stories from their children and grandchildren, unpublished filmed archives, successful animations with moving drawings by Charles Sansonetti, the directors make a beautiful tribute to these women forgotten by a collective memory that has long retained only the heroism of men.

Very supportive resistance fighters

Whether they were 17 or 67, all had in common the desire to resist the Nazi occupiers. Students, secretaries, doctors, philosophers, workers, shopkeepers, activists, they come from different backgrounds but throw themselves into the resistance with astounding courage as liaison officers, network leaders, saboteurs. Their names are Charlotte (Delbo), Danielle (Casanova), Marie-Claude (Vaillant-Couturier), Simone (Alizon), Madeleine (Dissoubray) to name but a few.

Denounced, arrested, locked up in Fort Romainville in August 1942, these resistance fighters were well organized and above all very united. A solidarity that will allow some to survive in the hell of Auschwitz or to delay the fatal deadline. “You are 230. In one month you will be 10! », had launched a deportee to these French resistance fighters when they arrived at the camp.

In the summer of 1943, Radio London revealed the fate of these French women thanks to a report sent in secret by Danielle Casanova to Poles. The fifty-seven survivors are then quarantined by the Germans. In the summer of 1944, fifty-two survivors were transferred to other camps. For the first time, the group is dispersed.

When they find themselves in Paris, they are not listened to. They must remain in the shadows and are only recognized as “political deportees”. For more than fifteen years, they will fight and start long procedures before being awarded the card of “deported resistant”. A difference in status and pension. Fighters to the end.

Matricule 31000, the courage of the shadows by Frédéric and Niagara Tonelli (Fr., 2023, 60 min). TV story


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