Everyone knows that being in the Resistance was a dangerous business. But not everyone realizes that if you were good at it, it could also have been dangerous after the Liberation.

Take the case of a young French woman (born 1924) whom we’ll call Jeanne. From mid-1942 until August 1944 Jeanne and her mother brought food and information to the maquis and to passeurs in their valley in the Pyrenees. They also sheltered Allied aviators in their home. If the Germans or French collaborators had caught them at it, the women would have been imprisoned and maybe even deported to the concentration camps as resisters. Yet at the Liberation in August 1944, the Resistance arrested Jeanne and kept her in prison in Toulouse for three months and then in an internment camp for two months as a suspected collaborator.

Apparently Jeanne had everyone fooled during the war, both the Germans and her neighbors who weren’t in her resistance group. She was arrested for being friendly to the Germans in her village, a form of collaboration that some communities punished violently and without trial.
As a matter of fact, however, the leader of her resistance group, the local doctor, told her to chat up the Germans to find out the times of their patrols in the mountains. The information she got from her friendly conversations kept other resisters and fugitives who were moving through the mountains safe. It would also have served her well when she took food to the resisters hiding in the hills.

When the doctor told this young woman to talk with the Germans, he may have worried what the enemy would do to her if they found out she was actually a resister. Did he worry about what would happen to her at the Liberation when everyone was judged on the appearance of what they did? Probably not. But he did go into Toulouse when he found out that she was imprisoned and get her released. She regained her freedom, but the file in the archives does not say whether she and her mother were ever able to regain their reputations or if they were always tainted with the suspicion of collaboration after that.