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Women in the Paris Commune

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CWF's picture
CWF
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Joined: 9-09-05
Apr 21 2006 20:16
Women in the Paris Commune

Recently came across this article, and haunting series of photographs, of women Petroleuses (arsonists) during the Paris commune.

http://www.iisg.nl/collections/petroleuses/intro.php

Has anyone heard of this before, or have more detail on their idelogical motivations?

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Steven.
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Joined: 27-06-06
Apr 22 2006 00:13

Yeah I've heard of them - Louise Michel was famously accused of being one. The idea behind it being that if the govt re-took Paris they'd be none of it left to take. Don't know how many of them there were though, seems like they were a bit demonised, like a more hardcore version of the current casseurs

Jesse
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Joined: 20-04-06
Apr 24 2006 04:42

From what I've read, it's not even certain they existed; there was a lot of paranoia about them though; any woman holding a bottle was suspect. Louise Michel claimed in her court case afterward that the burnings were only a defense aginst the invaders, a wall of fire. There were a few fake documents produced with orders from the Commune to burn everything down.

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Red Marriott
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Apr 30 2006 16:32

A book exists called The Women Incendaries by Edith Thomas, published in the 60s about these women. I guess it's long out of print; if I remember right it concludes that there's no evidence they were a formal organisation, but that women were heavily involved in the Commune as nurses, canteen workers, soldiers etc - and arsonists.