Madeleine and her war diary

The Madeleine Blaess diary is unique because it is written by a British student who had French papers and lived freely in occupied France. This is unlike most other British, Commonwealth and American citizens who were rounded up and interned.

Although always fearful that she might be arrested, Madeleine was left alone by the authorities. It helped that she had extended family in the Paris region, and spoke and wrote French very well. She was able to assume an identity more ‘French’ than it was in reality.

The diary is the only testimony of everyday life in occupied France written by a British student. It also stands out because the diary is an almost complete set of daily entries written from 1 October 1940 to 17 September 1944.

Unusually for a published Occupation diary, the entries do not foreground the military and political situation but describe the trivia and banalities of everyday life. Madeleine focuses her diary writing on describing people and events.

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