From to , Nazi Germany occupied northern and western parts of France, in what to this day remains a source of deep humiliation for the country. Moments after France was liberated in the summer of , celebration expanded to include demonization, with Allied victors engaging in some of the same revenge tactics against women as their enemies. Many French women believed to have had children or collaborated with German occupiers were publicly humiliated. Sometimes this meant having their heads shaved; other times -- even in addition to head shavings -- it meant public beatings. The decision to shave a woman's head is imbued with gender power dynamics.
French female collaborator punished by having her head shaved to publicly mark her, 1944
Horizontal collaboration - Wikipedia
T he 65th anniversary of the D-day landings this week is an occasion to revisit joyful pictures of the liberation of France in But among the cheering images there are also shocking ones. These show the fate of women accused of "collaboration horizontale". It is impossible to forget Robert Capa's fallen-Madonna image of a shaven-headed young woman, cradling her baby, implicitly the result of a relationship with a German soldier. The punishment of shaving a woman's head had biblical origins. In Europe , the practice dated back to the dark ages, with the Visigoths.
A woman being shaved by civilians to publicly mark her as a collaborator, French women who befriended the Nazis, through coerced, forced, or voluntary relationships, were singled out for shameful retribution following the liberation of France. The woman photographed here, believed to have been a prostitute who serviced German occupiers, is having her head shaved by French civilians to publicly mark her. This picture was taken in Montelimar, France, on August 29, At the end of World War II, many French people accused of collaboration with Germany endured a particularly humiliating act of revenge: their heads were shaved in public.
The existence of these liaisons had been a major reason for young men to join the French Resistance. After the war, throughout France, women accused of collaboration had their heads shaved. In many of the 20, cases, the women in question had performed only professional services for the occupying Germans, rather than being engaged in sexual relationships with them.