Everyone is equal in the time of war. The rich, poor, young, old, happy, sad – everyone is looking in the very same eyes of danger. The World War II has affected each and everyone, and it keeps affecting us today. No wonder it was called WORLD War. There was not an inch of European land that was not directly or indirectly associated with war. And maybe we would be walking on ashes of Europe today if it wasn’t for the heroes, who were not afraid to lose their lives for lives of millions. Most of them were random people, who probably were born in order to make a difference they did. Some of the heroes were among those who captured the hearts of the people even before the war, with their talents. Edith Piaf, an extremely popular French singer was one of them.
In France, just like in the rest of Europe, no one could hide from the war. It is then, that a young, but already successful Edith Piaf became part of this great world tragedy. When the Second World started, she was 25 years old. A little less than a year later her native France was occupied. It should be noted that Piaf was not poor, she was talented and well known. At that time she lived in the center of Paris, in a wealthy mansion and ate caviar and pineapples. Nevertheless, Edith despised German authorities, could not stand death and brutality. And she was helping her country as she could. Edith Piaf, a popular singer and entertainer for the audience, saved thousands of Jews risking her own life.
Her voice could be heard everywhere at the front line of the World War II. Edith Piaf insisted that if she could not help her country with weapon in her hands, it was her moral obligation to raise the courage of French soldiers and officers, to support them. Edith, a young girl and already successful singer, asserted that she found no shame in singing for soldiers in barracks. If she could bring smile to their faces – that is what counted.
In the middle of the War, personal life failures started to follow Piaf. She separated from her husband Raymond Asso. As a result, her artistic career has undergone a period of recession – Piaf left the big stage. Moreover, a big tragedy happened in her life at the same time – her parents died. But she continued to perform and help France in the times of war. A great success became a play where Edith Piaf played a leading role – “Le Bel Indifferent”. Afterwards, her fame started to grow again, faster than before. A movie based on the aforementioned play was in all the movie theatres. And Edith Piaf was the leading actress.
As a result of this success, Edith Piaf was invited to perform in Germany. She agreed without second thoughts, because she saw this as an opportunity to do something more meaningful for her country and people. However, no one knew what plan Edith Piaf had, so she received a lot of critics for agreeing to be an entertainer for the German audience.
Upon arrival in Germany, Piaf insisted that she would sing only under one condition. She said she would sing for everyone, both the German soldiers and French Jews who were prisoners in concentration camps. After a short consideration, the German administration agreed to this condition. It is absolutely impossible to image what she was feeling, looking at exhausted faces of her natives, and the happy smiles of the new masters of Europe. But Piaf did not bat an eye. After each performance at the camps Piaf was taking pictures with everyone. It was another request of the singer.
But what Edith did was, on her return to Paris, she passed all the taken photos to her influential friends. For everyone who was in the photos, false documents were created. Piaf then again went on tour to Germany, attended the same camps and secretly delivered document to the prisoners.
She managed to do the same procedure a couple of times. After each concert, she always went to the audience and did a signing. This way she could pass documents to the prisoners. In fact, thousands of French Jews were saved with her help. For many it has helped to find their way to freedom. But even those who died at the camps, were not forgotten by Edith Piaf. She regularly organized charity concerts to support the families of victims.
The war ended, and the singer was accused of supporting the Nazis, and her performances were considered an act of obedience to the Germans. But soon Piaf was justified: dozens of those who she rescued showed up in the court and defended her. Today, the French are proud of their most famous singer and a brave patriot Edith Piaf. She is not forgotten and never will be.
Author: Maria Domina
My name is Mariia Domina, a 24-year-old Ukrainian. My ambitions brought me to China, where I, a linguist with a bachelor degree, decided to study China’s politics and economics as my major. And here I am, getting my second Master degree in the US, excited about PhD, a researcher who is trying to make a difference in the field of counterterrorism and Middle Eastern politics. However, first of all, I am a woman. And as an ambitious young woman, I am trying to prove my point in everything I do, in hopes for my voice to be heard. And it will be!