On this day, 23 July 1944, French communist resistance fighter Madeleine Riffaud saw a German military officer taking a walk over a bridge on the river Seine in Paris and got off her bicycle. As he looked at the Louvre, she took out her gun and shot him twice in the head, killing him. As she cycled away, she was pursued and knocked off her bike by French collaborators in a car.
Riffaud tried to shoot herself to avoid torture but was captured and handed over to the Nazi SS. She was beaten repeatedly, escaped but was recaptured and deported to a concentration camp. There, she was released in a prisoner swap, and took part in the armed uprising which liberated the city in August.
She later recounted to Agence France-Presse in an interview, “It was joyous… People were falling in love and kissing each other without knowing each other. After years of having to do everything in secret, we could fight in the open.”
Riffaud survived the war and later became a journalist, supporting and reporting on anti-colonial rebellions in Algeria and Vietnam. She is now 95 years old.
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/wrkclasshistory