Sunday, August 23, 2009

On August 23

On this day in ...
... 1924 (85 years ago today), Madeleine Riffaud (left) was born in Paris, France. When the Nazis occupied her city, the teenager adopted a codename and "joined the 20,000 strong Résistance in the French capital and became one of the 100,000 or so members nationwide." Decades later she told a Deutsche Welle reporter:

'I took the name of a German, out of respect for the author Rainer Maria Rilke, whose poems I loved. We were at war with the Nazis, not at war against the German people. So I became "Rainer" and remained so to the end of the occupation.'
In retaliation for an SS massacre of 600 in central France, Riffaud shot a German soldier to death -- an exploit she recalled in her poem Femmes avec fusils (p. 5) -- and was arrested. She would be released when Allies liberated the city. After World War II she became a journalist, poet, and war correspondent, covering wars in Algeria and Vietnam. (image credit)
... 1990, Armenia declared itself sovereign. It would become independent from the Soviet Union a year later. Today the country (flag at left), which is slightly larger than the state of Maryland, has a population estimated in the neighborhood of 3 million.

(Prior August 23 posts are here and here.)

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