Our Caucuses

Welcome to the DA France National Caucus page. We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the caucus communities of our members in France.

 



  • Diversity Caucus

    Welcome to the DA France Diversity Caucus!

    Welcome to the DAFrance Diversity Caucus blog. We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the community of our members in France.  The Diversity Caucus is a forum to bring together people interested in issues concerning people of color. In France, the Diversity Caucus brings together the Global Black, Hispanic, and Asian American Pacific Islander caucuses.

    Our mission is to support, educate and enlighten our community with social, political and cultural events. We hope to engage, empower and motivate our members and the larger community of Americans in France to exercise their right to vote from abroad. 

    We encourage you to reach out to us to provide content and ideas for this blog in order to keep it as interactive as possible. You can contact the DAFrance Diversity Caucus co-chairs - Reed Kennedy and Veronica Pollard at  [email protected].

    We invite you to join our Facebook group to learn more about our activities. 

     

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    LGBTQ+ Caucus

    Welcome to the DA France LGBTQ+ Caucus!

    Welcome to the DAFrance LGBTQ+ Caucus blog. We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the community of our members in France. The Democrats Abroad LGBTQ+ Caucus is a forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex members and any Democrat abroad who supports them. 

    Our mission is to support, educate and enlighten our community with social, political and cultural events. We hope to engage, empower and motivate our members and the larger community of Americans in France to exercise their right to vote from abroad. 

    We encourage you to reach out to us to provide content and ideas for this blog in order to keep it as interactive as possible. You can contact the DAFrance LGBTQ+ Interim co-Chairs - Fred Hoffman and Juan Cerda at [email protected].

    We invite you to visit our Global LGBT+ Caucus webpage in order to learn more about our global initiatives and to join the LGBT Caucus (if you haven't already done so).

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    Youth Caucus

    Young Democrats in France! Welcome!

    Welcome to the DA France Youth Caucus blog (aka Young Dems in France). We have created this space to share news, events, and ideas within the community of our members in France. We aim to build political engagement among young Dems living abroad, including voter registration and voting from abroad as well as issue education, advocacy and activism, especially youth-led and youth-related.

    Our mission is to support, educate and enlighten our community with social, political and cultural events. We hope to engage, empower, and motivate our members and the larger community of Americans in France to exercise their right to vote from abroad. 

    We encourage you to reach out to us to provide content and ideas for this blog in order to keep it as interactive as possible. You can contact the DA France Youth Caucus co-chairs - Chloe Olsen and Ricky Marc at [email protected].

    We invite you to visit our Global Youth Caucus webpage in order to learn more about our global initiatives and to join the Youth Caucus (if you haven't already done so). We also have a Young Democrats in France Facebook group. Please visit us!

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    Womens Caucus

    Gender Equality: Unleashing Women's Full Potential

    On April 13, our Global Women’s Caucus had a brilliant Zoom call with Linda Scott.  Scott is the author of The Double X Economy: The Epic Potential of Empowering Women. It’s a terrific summary about where women stand today - enlightening and sobering statistics that will tell you the whole story. PLUS, Linda Scott is a compelling speaker. Here is the link to watch the full video.
    • Wherever you are active on social media, please follow our Global Women's Caucus. We're now on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
      • Join in on the local discussion by becoming a member of the *NEW* DA France Women's Caucus Facebook group!
      • Not yet a member of the DA Women's Caucus? Join here.
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    Women in the Military and Sexual Violence Injustice

    On April 6, “Sexual Assault Awareness Day,”  the Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus along with the Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus presented an eye-opening report about sexual abuse in the military and the inability of women to get their stories heard and tried.  You can watch the interview here. Facebook Watch event
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    Veterans and Military Families Caucus

    National Deportation Remembrance Day, April 25

    DA France Veterans and Military Families Caucus Remembers Americans Deported to Concentration Camps during WW II, April 25th, National Deportation Remembrance Day

    In France, the last Sunday of April is National Deportation Remembrance Day. The Democrats Abroad France Veterans and Military Families Caucus has chosen to talk about four remarkable deportees: Dr. Sumner Jackson, his wife Charlotte and son Phillip, and a certain wondrous Virginia d’Albert-Lake.

    Dr. Sumner Jackson, his wife Charlotte and son Phillip

    Dr. Sumner Waldon Jackson (1884-1945) joined the British Army as a field surgeon in 1916, then transferred to the US Army in 1917, where he met and married the French Red Cross nurse, Charlotte Sylvie Barrelet de Ricout, nicknamed Toquette. After WW l they returned to Sumner’s native state, Maine, but finding life there too conservative, moved back to France in 1921. In order to practice medicine, the French required that he first pass the baccalaureat. He flunked philosophy so moved to Algeria where the baccalaureat was easier, then returned to France and graduated from the Ecole de Médecine. Sumner and Toquette had one child, Phillip, nicknamed Pete (1928-2016) who was proud to be both American and French. 

    Dr. Sumner Jackson with son Phillip

    Charlotte Jackson, known as Toquette

    Dr. Jackson was the Staff Surgeon then Chief Surgeon at the American Hospital in Paris from 1925 to 1943. During WWII, one of the Allied Forces soldiers he treated was an American ambulance driver who had gotten into trouble so Dr. Jackson hid him in the hospital basement. That was the beginning of the Jacksons French Resistance clandestine activities with the Goélette Network. During the Nazi occupation, his family home served as a resistance hub for the exchange of money, information and sometimes even people who were dropped off and picked up by a network of underground resistance fighters … but never arms. Messages heard on London radio about allied bombings or German positions were sewn into “stinky” cheese and sent to Vichy! Since he was a medical doctor, it was normal to see people come and go in his apartment.

    At the American Hospital, Dr. Jackson openly treated French and German soldiers but secretly took in wounded British, US and French airmen, Jews and servicemen, listed them as dead in the hospital records, provided false ID papers and helped smuggle them to Spain, on their way to the UK.

    In May 1944 his son Phillip, (16 years old), was already a resistance spy when Germans came to arrest him, his father and his mother. They were sent to the Compiegne prison camp. Toquette was shuffled to several camps and finally rescued by the Swedish Red Cross in Ravenbrück and taken to Malmö, Sweden on April 28, 1945. She had no idea what had happened to her husband and son.

    Dr. Jackson and his son survived beatings, starvation, and forced labor in Gestapo and SS prisons in France and Germany. They finally wound up near Hamburg at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp for political prisoners where the working hours were long and strenuous. When Dr. Jackson’s finger became seriously infected, he had another prisoner amputate it and kept on working. 

    Dr. Jackson spoke little, never explaining why he had been arrested because he was determined that nothing he might say would endanger those for whom he had quietly risked his life. He endured it all with stoicism and dignity that seemed to emanate from his sheer force of character.

    In April 1945 the British Army was closing in on Neuengamme. Phillip and his father had spent a year in that camp which had 9000 prisoners. 3000 were shot. Dr. Jackson and Phillip were among the 6000 put in freight cars and then on ships to northern Germany.

    On May 3rd 1945, as the POW ships were leaving the Lübeck harbor, the British ordered them to turn back. They didn’t. Unaware that these German ships were full of prisoners, British aircraft dropped bombs and rockets on them. Dr. Jackson’s body was never found. 10,000 people were killed, mostly prisoners. Phillip Jackson, then 17, despite the temperature of the Baltic Sea, swam to shore near Lübeck. Only 600 people survived. They were lined up against a wall to be shot but were saved by British tanks that rolled in just in time. The next day, dressed in a blanket, Phillip approached a British captain and said, “I have escaped and I am alone now”. He enlisted in the British Army and returned to Paris in September 1945 where he was reunited with his mother at the Arch of Triumph-Etoile. Their apartment on Avenue Foch was just as they had left it. After the War Phillip spent years encouraging improvement of Franco-German relations. 

    In 2013, The Board of Governors of the American Hospital of Paris created the Jackson Award to commemorate the extraordinary devotion of Sumner and Charlotte Jackson in serving the hospital before and during World War II. The first recipients of the Jackson Medal were Sumner and Charlotte, posthumously. Their son Phillip accepted the award for them and personally received the French Legion of Honor.

    Phillip, his father and his mother, Toquette, are the subjects of the bestselling book Avenue of Spies by Alex Kershaw.

    Virginia d’Albert Lake 

    Virginia d'Albert-Lake (1910-1997) was a schoolteacher from Florida who was awarded the French Legion of Honor, the Order of the British Empire, Croix de Guerre, U.S. Medal of Freedom and Maltese Cross for helping 67 British and American airmen evade German capture during World War II. Many airmen came with family to visit her after the War.

    In 1936 Virginia travelled to France, where she fell in love with and married Philippe d’Albert-Lake, the son of an English mother and a French father. Life was peaches and cream. The family had means, apartments, even a château. But in 1940 France had surrendered and Philippe, who had been in the French Army since the beginning of the War, was demobilized and came to Paris. 

    One day in the little town of Nesles where they tried to live inconspicuously by staying out of the Germans’ way, the village baker asked them to come to his shop. He was hiding and helping downed American pilots.

    When they looked at the young pilots, Virginia and Philippe knew they had no choice. Soon they were working with the Comet Escape Line, the French Resistance network in charge of returning Allied pilots to England via Spain. 

    Until Spring 1944, the routine was to receive the airmen at Paris train stations, hide them in their apartment and then guide them out of Paris to a camp in southern France from where they left for the UK.

    Many Germans who had been to US, Canadian or British schools pretended they were American pilots. Virginia quizzed them all with cultural questions such as “Who is Babe Ruth” and turned the “fake ones” over to the French resistance fighters. 

    On June 12, 1944, fearful of imminent arrest, Virginia, Philippe and 11 airmen left Paris and headed south. As they were bicycling near Châteaudun, a German car stopped Virginia who was slightly ahead of the group. She was ordered to empty her pocketbook. Out fell a list of French resistance fighters. In her haste, she had forgotten to memorize and destroy it.

    At German headquarters she admitted to swallowing the list and was told she would be shot in the morning. Instead, she was on one of the last deportation trains to leave France. Virginia was sent to Ravensbrück and other devastating concentration camps until finally being freed by the French Army on April 21, 1945. She left the last camp weighing a mere 76 pounds. Willpower had kept her alive.

    After the War, Philippe and Virginia moved to Brittany where she dabbled in the sale of antique dolls to the U.S. market. She died in 1997, Philippe 3 years later. They are buried in a section reserved for Anglo-American citizens in a cemetery in Dinard.

    According to her son Patrick, “After her release, I think she thought she’d been given a second life. She loved life. She had a fantastic sense of humor. It was very sharp, very American.” 

    Written by Karen Kenny and Tilly Gaillard




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    Blog: The Plight of Twin Sisters’ Devotion in WWI

     The Cromwell Sisters - No Way Out but a Tragic End  

    Dorothea and Gladys Cromwell, twin sisters, were born in Brooklyn in 1885. They were descendants of Oliver Cromwell and inherited a fortune from their father. 

    During WWI the twins volunteered to work in France, near the front at Chalons-sur-Marne and Verdun, for the Red Cross in a canteen and as nurses. Harriet Rogers, assistant head of the canteen, described the twins as follows: “They are angels who not only do first-class work on day or night service, but also find time to visit the soldiers in the French hospitals and to befriend the little French refugee children.” 

    For eight months they worked under fire on long day and night shifts; they slept in “caves” or under trees in a field; suffered from the exhaustion that is so acute to those who have never known physical labor; yet no one suspected until the end came that for many months they believed their work a failure, and their efforts futile. . . . overwhelming strain and fatigue had made them more weary than they realized, and the horrors of conditions near the Front broke their already overtaxed endurance.

    They wanted to continue working in France even after the Nov. 11, 1918 armistice ended the combat. But their only brother, Seymour persuaded them to come home. They boarded the SS La Lorraine on Jan. 19, 1919, for the trip back to New York.

    United States Army Private Jack Pemberton was on duty on the upper deck of the La Lorraine the night it started for America. As he huddled against the wind and a cold mist, he saw two women, each wearing a black cape, walking arm-in-arm, talking. One of the women climbed atop the ship’s rail, then disappeared. The second woman followed, also climbing the rail and disappearing into the blackness. Pemberton heard two faint splashes below. He alerted the bridge, and the alarm was sounded. But it took 15 minutes, before the ship could be slowed. By that time the river channel was too narrow for the ship to turn around and search for bodies.

    In New York, their brother, Seymour, who served as the president of the New York Stock Exchange, was unconvinced of their deaths and the possibility that they had committed suicide. He had received “a cheerful letter” from them a week before they were to sail. Two days after the La Lorraine sailed, he had received a cable from the sisters stating that they had missed that ship and would be sailing soon on another ship. In response to his inquiry to the shipping line, the captain of the La Lorraine had cryptically cabled back that the sister’s baggage was in their state room, but they were not on board. A note had been found in their stateroom, addressed to the head of their Red Cross unit, stating that they intended to “end it all.” According to a report in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, four people on the Lorraine saw the sisters jumped to their death. On January 26, The New York Times reported that the police commissioner of Bordeaux had confirmed that their deaths were by suicide.

    It appears that the Cromwell twins, subjected to the horrors of war, ranging from shelling to dealing with the carnage of the injured and dead, had been the victims of shell shock, a term that emerged with the horror of World War I. Today we would call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  

    The bodies of Gladys and Dorothea Cromwell were recovered on March 20th. Both Cromwell sisters were awarded France’s Croix de Guerre and interred at Suresnes American Cemetery, on a hill overlooking Paris, with full military honors. It is the final resting place of 1541 Americans who died during World War I and a place of remembrance for 974 Americans who were lost at sea as well as for 24 American soldiers who are “known but to God.”

    Excerpts from an article by Jeff Richman on January 23rd, 2017 in Green-Wood Historian Blog and posted by Tilly Gaillard and Karen Kenny. 

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