Jacques Lusseyran

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Jacques Lusseyran
Born(1924-09-19)September 19, 1924
Paris, France
DiedJuly 27, 1971(1971-07-27) (aged 46)
Occupation(s)Author, Political activist
Notable workAnd There Was Light

Jacques Lusseyran (19 September 1924 27 July 1971) was a French author and political activist. Blinded at the age of 7, at 17 Lusseyran became a leader in the French resistance against Nazi Germany's occupation of France in 1941. He was eventually sent to Buchenwald concentration camp because of his involvement, and was one of 990 of his group of 2000 inmates to survive. He wrote about his life, including his experience during the war, in his autobiography And There Was Light.



Lusseyran was born in Paris, France. He became totally blind in a school accident at the age of 7. [1] [2] He soon learned to adapt to being blind and maintained many close friendships, particularly with one boy named Jean Besniée. [3] At a young age he became alarmed at the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany and decided to learn the German language so that he could listen to German radio broadcasts. By 1938, when Nazi Germany annexed Austria, he had accomplished this task.[ citation needed ] [4]

Germany invaded France in 1940. In the spring of 1941, at the age of 17, Lusseyran formed a Resistance group called the Volunteers of Liberty with other students from the Lycée Louis-le-Grand and the Lycée Henri-IV. [5] [6] He was put in charge of recruitment. The group later merged with another Resistance group called Défense de la France. In July 1943 he participated in a campaign to drop pro-resistance leaflets on trains: forty squads of ten members each passed out seventy thousand leaflets. The squads carried tear gas pens to stop people from interfering, though these were never used, and there were no arrests.[ citation needed ] [7]

On July 20, 1943, Lusseyran was arrested by the Gestapo, betrayed by a member of his resistance group named Elio. His knowledge of German helped him understand more of the situation than most French prisoners. He spent six months at Fresnes prison before being moved to Buchenwald concentration camp with 2000 other French citizens, where, because he was blind, he did not have to participate in forced labor as most other prisoners did. Soon most of his childhood friends and fellow resistance operatives were arrested, and he met some of them in the concentration camp. Lusseyran helped to motivate a spirit of resistance within the camp, particularly within the French and German prisoners.[ citation needed ]

In April 1945, he was liberated; 990 of his group of 2000 inmates survived. [8] After the war, Lusseyran taught French literature in the United States and wrote books, including the autobiographical And There Was Light, which chronicles the first 20 years of his life. He died together with his third wife Marie in a car accident in France on July 27, 1971. [9]



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  1. Brunel, Pierre (2019). Préface. Que la lumière soit. In: Marion Chottin, Céline Roussel, and Zina Weygand (eds). Jacques Lusseyran, entre cécité et lumière. Éditions Rue d’Ulm/Presses de l’École normale supérieure, ISBN 978-2-7288-0606-5. p.10
  2. Lusseyran, Jacques (2016). Against the Pollution of the I: On the Gifts of Blindness, the Power of Poetry, and the Urgency of Awareness. New World Library. pp. 5–. ISBN   978-1-60868-386-4 . Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  3. Hochard, Cécile. "Jacques Lusseyran". Musée de la Résistance. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  4. Lusseyran, Jacques (1985). And There Was Light. Edinburgh: Floris Books. p. 86. ISBN   978-086315-507-9.
  5. Hochard, Cécile. "Journal des Volontaires de la Liberté: Le Tigre". Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation à Besançon . Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  6. Wakeman, Rosemary (2009). The Heroic City: Paris, 1945-1958. U of Chicago P. p. 243. ISBN   9780226870175.
  7. Lusseyran, Jacques (1985). And There Was Light. Edinburgh: Floris Books. pp. 174–176. ISBN   978-086315-507-9.
  8. Lalieu, Olivier (2019). Jacques Lusseyran en déportation. Entre histoire et mémoire. In: Marion Chottin, Céline Roussel, and Zina Weygand (eds). Jacques Lusseyran, entre cécité et lumière. Éditions Rue d’Ulm/Presses de l’École normale supérieure, ISBN 978-2-7288-0606-5. p.55
  9. 1 2 3 "Lusseyran, un destin peu commun". Le Monde. 20 August 1971. Retrieved 10 November 2023.
  10. Prix Louis Barthou 1954 de l’Académie française

Further reading