I’ve been struggling with how to deal with the “right now,” how to process and grieve, how to move forward. It feels like I’ve been swallowed whole and so I’m on a fevered search for some sort of hope. When I think of battling forces of evil, when I think of courage and bravery, I think of Claude Cahun.
Claude Cahun and her lover, Marcel Moore moved to the island of Jersey in 1937 to escape the political climate of Paris. Together the couple explored sexuality, gender, and identity in their photography and writing. They did not publish their work nor were they “out” on the island. They were very private people attempting to explore their research in peace. German forces invaded the island in 1940. They were both Jewish and gay.
The two did not rest. They developed an extensive and intensive plan to subvert the Nazis. They produced anti-Nazi fliers plastered with poetry and critiques. And they distributed them to the Nazis, by sneaking around and putting them in their pockets. They threw the fliers anywhere they could, into cars, into open windows. The fliers were typically written from the perspective of a German rebelling against the tide of Nazism. In doing this, soldiers became unsettled, confused, some ran away from the island altogether.
In November of 1944 they were tried and convicted of undermining the Nazis and sentenced to death. The death penalties were never carried out but Claude never recovered from her treatment in prison and died in 1954. When I think of courage I think of Claude. Resistance can take many forms and bravery is needed in us all. Claude did so much with so little, and she didn’t go quietly. There is much to read on her.