Heroine of the Week

Geneviève Callerot – A Heroine of the World War II

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Born in Paris in 1916, during World War I, Geneviève Callerot arrived Sainte Aulaye in the valley of the Double with her family in 1920 where they settled to escape the first world war, she has since then, lived there.

Recently Knighted of the legion of honour, country novelist and farmer, 102-year-old Callerot, is a true heroine of the World War 11.

She was homeschooled by her mother until she was 14 years old, living a normal life until her family home was overtaken by the Second World War in June 1940, with the demarcation line not far from their property.

During world war II, Callerot’s family played an important role in helping people escape from the Germans, taking advantage of the close proximity of their home to the demarcation line. Callerot, alongside her father and sister, she helped about 200 British and American war-wounded people and Jews escape into the part of France administered by Marshall Philippe Pétain’s collaborationist government.

She was arrested three times, and in October 1942, she spent three weeks in prison after being caught in the woods. Callerot was released after she invented the story of a fictitious fiancé “Jacques Martin” whom she claimed that she was set to meet.

After the war, she bought her house in Saint-Aulaye where she and her husband Jean settled as farmers in 1957 and raised their three children. Callerot had discovered her passion for writing during her teenage years, and this passion came alive by when she settled with her family in her peaceful home at Saint-Aulaye. She went on to publish her first book in 1983 at 67. The book titled; “The five girls of the Grand Barrail”, was a success, selling 15,000 copies. Since then, she has published five books including: “Thirteen corn kernels”, “Four bell sounds”, “Three Jules pond”, “The castle maid” and “Two girls under the boot”.

Over the years this Heroine of the World War II Geneviève Callerot was nominated as a Knight of the Legion of Honour, the highest French decoration and reportedly one of the most famous in the world; Callerot had initially, humbly declined for the reason she stated that “loads of other people deserved it a lot more”. However, in July 2018, now 102 years old, she finally accepted the honour on the condition that her family would be associated with her in the award.

Speaking after the award, she said; “I didn’t want it because loads of other people deserved it a lot more,” she said. “And then I thought about it. I’m going to take it all the same in association with my parents, my brothers and sisters.”

Callerot had four brothers and sisters, only one of whom, Etienne Morise aged 83, is still alive.

She and her husband jean had three children, and when questioned about the secret of her longevity, Callerot attributes it to her regular physical exercise, and to the will that has always inhabited her to make the world a better place.

A true Heroine, whose act of bravely helped preserve generations today.

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