by Douglas Martin
New York Times

Lucie Aubrac, a French schoolteacher whose melding of romance and resistance to Nazi occupation not only made her resemble Ingrid Bergman’s character in “Casablanca” but also inspired popular films based on her own life, died Wednesday in a Paris suburb. She was 94.

Her death was announced by her daughter, Catherine Vallade, The Associated Press reported.

Her status as a hero grew as she published a somewhat fictionalized version of her wartime diaries in 1984; had her life portrayed in movies; and, in 1998, won a highly publicized libel suit against a historian who had questioned her heroism and that of her husband.

“She was an emblematic figure of the central role of women in the Resistance,” Jacques Chirac, the president of France, said Thursday in a statement.

Ms. Aubrac several times rescued her husband, Raymond, a leader of what was called the Secret Army, from prison.

Once, she confronted Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo officer known as the Butcher of Lyon. She presented herself to Mr. Barbie as a pregnant, unmarried aristocrat whose fiancé had been arrested and imprisoned by mistake.

She begged him to let them be married to make the child legitimate.

With what she described as “a queer smile” in her diary, Barbie opened his desk drawer and took out a portfolio. It contained various papers and cards pertaining to her, as well as a small snapshot of her in a bathing suit on a beach with a baby by her side.

The papers she carried identified her as unmarried, calling into question her urgent request: either she was already married and her identification was fake, or she did not care about the public appearance of virtue as much as she had claimed.

Barbie demanded to know how long she had known the prisoner, whom he called a terrorist. She stammered six weeks. He threw her out of the office.

She later bribed another Nazi officer who did not know she had seen Barbie to let the couple be married in his office. Afterward, in a blaze of gunfire, she and other Resistance members killed the driver and others in the truck taking Mr. Aubrac and 13 other Resistance fighters back to jail and freed them.

When Mr. Aubrac was jailed in 1940, she had slipped him pills containing a virus, and he escaped while being transported to a military hospital. Another time, she visited a prosecutor and calmly told him he would not live to see another sunset unless he released Mr. Aubrac.

She said in a 1997 interview with European Magazine that when she had gone to see the prosecutor, she said to herself: “This guy is a collaborator and, therefore, a coward. If I speak louder than him, I’m sure to win.”

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