Black Heroines of World War II

“Black Heroines of World War II: Women who Fought the Nazis” is a program of the Wagner College Holocaust Center featuring Professor Annette Joseph-Gabriel of the University of Michigan.

As spies, nurses and clandestine couriers, Black French women played vital, overlooked roles in the anti-Nazi war effort. Paulette Nardal issued a call to arms against fascism in the 1930s. Eugénie Éboué-Tell joined the Free French Forces for Women in Central Africa. Jane Vialle, a member of the French Resistance during WWII, was arrested in 1943 for treason, but survived and became a French senator. Josephine Baker’s fight against Hitler’s regime from Berlin to Portugal earned her a place in the French Panthéon, a distinction of great honor.

Annette Joseph-Gabriel is an assistant professor of French and Francophone studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of “Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire” (University of Illinois Press, 2020).

Virginia Allen, one of the Staten Island nurses known as the Black Angels, introduced the talk. Virginia Allen saw Josephine Baker at her final performance at Carnegie Hall.