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Instead, they turned to song as a means of proclaiming their identity and demonstrating their political beliefs. The bulk of that work has been conducted only in the past twenty years, by a mixture of French and American scholars. With one prominent exception drawn from an archival collection of some ten thousand songs sung during the German Occupation, [2] the existing literature focuses exclusively on the activities of a small organization known as the Front National de la Musique.

Several of these represented the core of the intellectual resistance: specifically the National Fronts of writers, musicians, the cinema industry, and the theater industry. In this case, the network was fairly small, with only thirty-six members at its peak. However, the actual reach and effectiveness of the group was limited by the size of the group and the elite artistic stature of its members; these were simply not the same people who would be bombing trains, bridges, and factories.

The relative isolation of their musical works and arguments from the more action-oriented network leaves the question of what music mattered to other Resistance groups, beyond the Front National de la Musique? Why was that music significant to them? And how did they use that music? Rarely are there accounts of culture within the Resistance. This songbook offers tangible evidence of the musical practices of one group of women resistants.

But before examining the notebook itself, we must understand what daily life was like for these women and how music fit into it. It would be built as a hexagonal ring, with six spokes emanating from a central ring see figure 1.

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Two sides of the hexagon would feature administrative offices and sleeping quarters for the guards. The ground floor of each spoke would be reserved for dining spaces and workshops. The upper floors of the hexagon and the spokes would consist of seven-and-a-half foot square cells for individual prisoners, with nine-foot high ceilings.

The central tower would have the kitchen, chapel, infirmary, visiting room, and a panopticon observation room. The guards can see every prisoner, but their observation points are obscured by one of several means venetian blinds, black paint, etc. It does this in several ways: because it can reduce the number of those who exercise it, while increasing the number of those on whom it is exercised.

Because it is possible to intervene at any moment and because the constant pressure acts even before the offences, mistakes or crimes have been committed. Because, in these conditions, its strength is that it never intervenes, it is exercised spontaneously and without noise, it constitutes a mechanism whose effects follow from one another.

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For the women who sang in the courtyards during World War II, it also meant that they could be certain their actions were seen. Their songs were thus not only a performance for themselves, but a demonstration made under the watchful eyes of the panopticon. The work was essentially complete a few months after the July Revolution, though the prison did not actually open until Based on a different design, this massive square edifice would house those male prisoners who had committed the most serious crimes.

This second prison, also opened in , would be the site of Parisian executions until its demolition, prompted by considerable opposition to the death penalty by the intellectual elite see figure 2. Because of their location and relative sizes, the two prisons became known, respectively, as La Petite Roquette and La Grande Roquette. In , however, the program was changed to one of strict discipline and isolation.

The juvenile prisoners spent their whole day in their cells: teachers visited each student for individual instruction and staff delivered meals to each individual. The prisoners were only allowed out of their cells to attend chapel, during which each was placed in his own box, so he could see the priest but was unable to see other prisoners, and for exercise, during which each was placed in one of several individual, walled-off exercise yards arranged in a semicircle around a panopticon guard post. For the next sixty-seven years, La Petite Roquette would be a receiving prison for juvenile and adult detainees awaiting trial at the Palais de Justice.

All that remains of the prison are the sentry boxes that guarded the entrance, which today provide the main entrance to the park see figure 4 and a plaque commemorating the members of the French Resistance who were incarcerated there see figure 5. Two of the women imprisoned in La Petite Roquette between and later wrote accounts of their daily lives, giving a striking sense of the social structure and daily routines within the prison.

Yvette Semard, whose father had been a prominent leader in both labor unions and the French Communist Party, was arrested on February 1, , when a police search of her apartment turned up a single issue of a clandestine communist newspaper. France Hamelin, on the other hand, was an active member of the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans and, along with her husband, Lucien, was arrested on August 31, , for participating in various sabotage missions.

By , every cell held four or five—typically two droits communs common law criminals and two or three droits politiques political criminals , generating significant tensions between the two types of prisoners. There were not enough beds to go around and the common law criminals were given priority, so many of the political criminals slept on pallets on the floor.

The common law criminals, many of whom were repeat offenders, tended to see the political prisoners as the reason for the overcrowding. Generally speaking the common law criminals were less interested in the politics of the Resistance, so they tended to separate themselves from the others. The common law criminals served fixed sentences, after which they were released. The political criminals, on the other hand were not tried—some were not even told why they had been arrested—and they would not know their fates until the war was decided.

While there were police guards in the prison, almost all contact with the women was through the Sisters of Marie-Joseph, a French order of nuns whose mission is to minister to prisoners. Another nun timed them as they washed up in sinks—showers were only permitted for those infested with scabies. From there, the nuns marched them into one of the courtyards or one of the cafeterias, where they received a piece of dark bread and a bowl of tisane , a marginally nutritious soup. In the ground-floor workshops, they were taught practical skills and they made crafts like handbags and dolls.

Finally, until about October or November , the women were allowed during the daytime to socialize in one of the two courtyards on either side of the spoke in which they were housed, though only during certain hours, since silence was imposed on the prisoners throughout most of the day. Any activities in these courtyards, however, were carefully watched from the panopticon observation room atop the central tower. A timid ray of sunshine flowed between two bars and made a bright spot on the ground, almost unseemly in this domain of ruin. I saw us, sleeping five or six on the notorious palettes or even lying on the cement.

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The bedbugs seemed to make them move. Now these cells are no longer used, they tell me: a portion of the cells which are occupied have even been renovated. These women played a key role in the daily life of their fellow inmates. Hamelin recounts in her memoir that the musical life of the women resistants in La Petite Roquette began on Bastille Day, , with the musical demonstration described at the beginning of this article.

With this act—and similar demonstrations on November 11, the anniversary of the Allied victory over Germany in World War I , and Bastille Day, , the women of La Petite Roquette inaugurated a tradition of musical protests that would last until the Liberation of Paris in August In , the women even managed to form an ad hoc chorus that met every afternoon, though these gatherings were generally broken up by charging nuns brandishing large sticks. Many of the women would continue singing when they were transferred to other prisons: either to Les Tourelles, a converted military barracks in the twentieth arrondissement, or via the fortress at Romainville in the Parisian suburbs to the German concentration camp system see figure 6.

For these women—and for the Sisters of Marie-Joseph who maintained order in the prison—this act of communal singing was understood as a declaration of their political identity and as an act of resistance. Since the author, Christiane Poinsch Famery was deported to Germany on the last train out of Paris, this songbook documents the culmination of the Resistance musical activity in the prison. France Hamelin, who sang in the chorus, noted that the singers consisted almost entirely of the younger prisoners and were led by Raymonde Boix. Both have texts by Paul Vaillant-Couturier, an influential writer and politician recognized worldwide for his role in promoting socialism and later communism; he was famously credited for playing a role in the development of four separate communist movements, in Russia, Germany, China, and France.

That these songs entered the camp song repertoire only six years before Famery recorded their lyrics suggests the youthfulness of the women who introduced these songs to the chorus, who were the right age to have been either campers or counselors in the late s. Some of the songs that circulated in the summer camps have origins in the folk and popular music of the Soviet Union.

The former circulated in France in a recording distributed by the communist label Chant du Monde, with Dunayevsky himself conducting the State Chorus and Orchestra of the Soviet Union. Though both songs had communist origins, they were not necessarily heard in a political context. Based on his account, the song seems to have transcended its Soviet origins and was sung at all of the summer camps regardless of political or religious affiliations.

In , the song gained new popularity thanks to the Grigori Aleksandrov film comedy Volga-Volga. While the twelve songs mentioned so far might at first glance appear relatively neutral in terms of politics, several of them also carry potent messages that would have resonated with the women in La Petite Roquette. Though the boy is initially frightened by all of the animals, he is eventually welcomed into their community and they teach him about work and survival.

But they also carried messages of communal solidarity and militancy. There's no light. There's no electricity. Just stones and water. That group does not rely on word of mouth, happenstance, the kindness of strangers. UX sets goals and quietly executes them. They never get lost. Whereas BHV, becrutched, does not volunteer to play tour-guide, Crato - lanky, vaguely grumpy — makes the offer.

There are those who go down to meet a partner. There are those who go to party. There are even those who go to watch movies. Everyone has their own reasons. It's the middle of the afternoon, cars whizzing by, clouds meandering across a 9 dirty blue sky. We're not far from Denfert-Rochereau, site of the official Catacombs Museum.

That plain stone building offers historical displays, dioramas, entry onto a sanitized one-mile circuit of "legal" catacombs. This is not, cataphiles emphasize, the "real thing. We look both ways and, one at a time, jump the bridge wall. It is thick, high as my shoulders. My jump is less deft than Crato's. I struggle for a moment and then I'm over, feet in the weeds, scrambling down the slope to the tracks.

This is the Petite Ceinture, one of the city's abandoned railways. It is almost silent. We walk. Crato has been visiting the catacombs for 10 years. He tells me how the original quarries were built just wide enough for a man with a wheelbarrow — six feet by three feet. Instead of dining in an overheated apartment, we went down into the catacombs to eat.

After a time, Crato and I come to a large train tunnel. The sunlight falls away behind us. It is easy to trip on the wooden ties of the tracks or on the irregular stones to either side. We turn on our flashlights yet I can see neither end of the tunnel. I assume the problem is fog but Crato speaks of fumis, cataphile smoke-bombs, made by mixing saltpetre with sugar and flour. They are hiding something down here. Ten minutes into the gloom, Crato swings his flashlight to the right. The darkness slips into focus.

Before me, where the tunnel wall meets the earth, is a hole. In , this is the "grand entrance" to the catacombs. A craggy break in the rock, no more than two feet wide. Cataphile refuse is strewn nearby — empty beer cans, juice cartons, white paste from carbide lanterns. This is just the second "grand entrance" that Crato has known. One day the IGC will close it up, he says, fill it with concrete like the last one.

But Crato hopes his fellow cataphiles do not dig a replacement straight-away. Better to give the losers, the troublemakers time to get bored and find something else to do. The committed ones already know different 10 ways to get in. The committed ones are patient. Even Crato seems to think that sometimes secrets are best. For Kunstmann and his associates, there is little appeal to wandering around underground.

Their cinema aside, the catacombs are a means, not an end: a way to access UX work-sites or to hide their tracks. But as a first-time visitor plunging into these gray chambers, the experience is thrilling. It is a labyrinth of branching channels and sudden openings, cool and quiet. Most of the catacombs are dry, tall enough to stand in — but from time to time we duck or crawl, or swish into ankle-high water. Still, they are not the dank, sweaty caves I imagined. Even wading into a passage called Banga, whose thigh-high water swirls like miso soup, the tunnel's soft silence recalls a theater, a wine-cellar, an attic.

In Kunstmann's book, cataphiles like Crato are called "bodzaux," for their wet and dirty boots, or "Ravioli", for their tendency to dine on boxed dumplings. Ravioli seek to "consecrate" the underground, Kunstmann argues, guarding it from precisely the kind of transformations that UX enjoy. Crato speaks of these feelings without actually speaking of them.

He talks about how years ago, he and his now-wife would spend all of Saturday night in the tunnels, wandering until four in the morning. They would emerge, dust themselves off, go to sleep — and on Sunday they would walk the same route, retrace the same steps, aboveground, hand in hand. While this is a beautiful image, it's the opposite of what UX hope to accomplish.

Areas 'flashed' in time. The work of UX is to de-flash, to thaw, to transform. As Crato and I weave beneath the 14th arrondissement, the subway murmurs in a passage over our heads. You could walk these caves in jeans and sneakers, I think. I have read how the Painted 11 Lizard ordered people to do the circuit naked, for his own wicked entertainment.

I am in knee-high boots and a cardigan. Crato wears the basic cataphile uniform: hip waders; waterproof backpack; strong flashlight; gloves; a cap to keep off the dust. The athletics stores of Paris, he says with a grin, sell a disproportionate number of fishermen's boots and impermeable packs. Although the catacombs are covered in graffiti tags, there are also sudden instances of art — amateur gargoyles, carved castles, life-size sculptures of cataphiles.

Crato brings me to La Plage, "the beach," a large gallery with a sand-packed floor. Our flashlights sweep across wide murals: Hokusai waves and Max Ernst-like portraits. In the Hall of Anubis we sit at a table chiselled out of stone. We light candles, drink beer, share cookies and chocolate. I am absolutely enchanted. I have no idea of the time. For the most part, cataphiles don't dispute Kunstmann's characterization of them. BHV says his friends enjoy "taking photos, exploring a particular area, repairing things, going to spots where no one has visited for a long time.

I balk at this — The same place you can visit for just eight euro, six days a week? And they succeed almost every year — every year there's a hole that's drilled. When cataphiles do stage large events, they tend to be one-off parties — not permanent "transformational" cinema installations. Crato remembers someone bringing down oysters — stupid, silly, "just as heavy on the way back as on the way down.

Among the largest celebrations was a farewell to Commandant Jean-Claude Saratte in Head of the catacomb police for 21 years, Saratte was respected for his knowledge, instincts and moderation — pursuing the drug-user, vandal or "tibia collector" instead of the gentle catacomb geek.

The cata-cops are regarded with resentment and disdain. But they force cataphiles to be vigilant: listening, 12 looking out for standard-issue lights, sniffing for aftershave. It is illegal to drink on public streets, Crato proposes, but not beneath them. We emerge from the maze three hours later, flashlights still shining, and again we are wreathed in smoke. It is dark as night. The opening of the railway tunnel is a circle of goldwhite light in the far distance. Treading toward the open air, out and past the wild bright green of the weeds, it's as if we're passing through stained glass.

On our way back along the tracks we meet a quartet of cataphiles in black hoodies and running shoes, acquaintances of Crato's. We talk. The conversation is a mixture of bravado, feigned indifference, outbursts of earnest feeling. They talk of girls, parties, police, numbskulls with smoke bombs. These men seem so gentle. Watching them smile, UX's rejection of this community seems unkind. No, Ravioli are not engaged in the same activities; no, their ambitions are not to the same scale. But if UX want to be something other than a secret club, at least they could be friendly with their neighbors.

Kunstmann sees it differently. UX are absolutely unrelated to these cataphiles, separate "from the start. As Paris was to learn, they hide in the aboveground as well. Two and a half years later, I arrive at the building for a tour. My group's guide is a man in his fifties, bird-haired, who talks in clipped and concentrated French. He doesn't mention the Pantheon's clock. Nor are there any references in the written program. After the tour ends, as the other tourists disperse, I ask him: "Didn't something happen with this clock?

The guide looks startled. He does not make eye contact. The clock had been broken. They fixed it. They have also held plays here, and projected films. He explains everything with a weird, wry solemnity, like he both hates and relishes being asked. What the internet will tell you is that the Untergunther are a branch of UX.

Whereas the Mexican Consolidated Drilling Authority are dedicated to events, the Untergunther are the organization's restorers. In September of they came here, to one of Paris's most important monuments — and they went to work. By the time it was finished in , the French Revolution had guillotined the church idea. Instead, the domed neo-classical cathedral became a mausoleum for great French citizens. In the center of the Pantheon's floor, where the architect Soufflot had imagined a statue of Ste Genevieve, Foucault's pendulum swings.

Tourists like me come and gape at the way this simple experiment, commissioned by Napoleon, offers evidence of the rotation of the planet.

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It is such an unassuming marvel. Another modest wonder lies at the end of the main hall, on the left, above a doorway. The Pantheon's clock is not an elaborate timepiece, like the Prague Orloj. The face is about as tall as a person, mounted on frosted glass. The clock-hands and roman numerals look like they are made of cast iron. Built by the house of Wagner in , it is plain, even austere. But for one year, this was the Untergunther's project. First, to have the technical ability. Second, to have the means.

And third, to have the desire. By , they claim to have completed about 12 projects, including the Pantheon, a yearold government bunker, a 12 th Century crypt, and a World War I air-raid shelter. Since the city administration scarcely has enough money to maintain what is in plain view, UX suggest, they are doomed to ignore what is not.

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This is a beautiful idea, but only compelling if acted upon. The Untergunther could be fakers, blowhards taking credit for conveniently hidden restorations. The story that follows is true. The Pantheon's 19th century clock had been broken since the s, left to decay, but it caught the eye of a man called Jean-Baptiste Viot. Viot is a clockmaker, formerly head of restoration for the Swiss house Breguet. He is also a member of UX. Viot observed the rust caked on the Wagner's machinery and ruled that it was a "now or never" moment. If the Pantheon's clock were ever to tick again, it would need the Untergunther's help.

On September 18, , the group formally adopted the project. Soon after, an eight-person "core" — including Viot and Untergunther leader Lanso — went to work. Using a copied key, they infiltrated the building after dusk, dodged security agents, and made their way up. High above the clock that had lured them there, the Untergunther arrived at a cavity along the base of the building's dome. This dusty, neglected space would become their home. A similar whimsy had inspired the Untergunther's naming, back when they were just known as "the restoration wing.

For the next 12 months, the Pantheon was the Untergunther's playground. They learned every nook and cranny, copied every key, learned the habits of every guard. It was made easier by relatively lax security. When I visited in , there were still no real security badges, and both of my tour-guides failed to count the group with their clickers. According to Kunstmann's stories, UX had already used the Pantheon to stage plays and other events; the Untergunther's residency was just a difference of scale, of persistence.

First they had to figure out what was wrong with the clock. The UGWK became a makeshift library, stocked with books on vintage timepieces and easy-chairs that transformed into inconspicuous wooden crates. Gradually the team concluded that one of the clock's integral components, the escapement wheel, had been sabotaged — likely by an employee decades ago. The mechanism had eventually been replaced with an electric mechanism, but this too was sabotaged.

Finally, they learned that fully restoring the Wagner clock would not just mean fiddling around behind its face — the antique mechanism had machinery located in several different parts of the building. The "flying-saucer-shaped" atelier of the Untergunther became a not-quite-state-of-the-art clockmaker's workshop.

The Untergunther carried up thousands of euros in tools, materials and chemicals. They installed thick red curtains along its chilly outer wall, because, Viot said, "a clockmaker can't do anything with mittens on. Usually, Kunstmann writes, sites restored by the Untergunther remain "just as inaccessible and unknown as they were before their repair. Often, the sites' invisibility even shields them from further damage. Alas for the Pantheon's clock, obscurity was not to be. UX doesn't have a blog. Members share a single email account. Lazar Kunstmann is not on Facebook and the group's other members do not speak to the press.

In this era of full disclosure, of never-ending networking, forwarding and sharing, they are an organization that refuses friend requests. They have only as many contacts as they require and they will not invite you to events. The group's secrecy makes it hard to check their facts.

Almost everything one can check out, does check out. For the rest, you have to believe or disbelieve their claims.


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Kunstmann says the group has between and members ranging from age 11 to They are mostly professionals in their late thirties and early forties. UX's groups formed "by accident" in the early 90s, gradually formalizing and adopting names. They are the product of "aggregation," the regrouping of kindred spirits within "the same, very reduced, geographic area.

Of the dozen teams that Kunstmann says exist, only three have been revealed — LMDP, the Untergunther, and a group called the Mouse House, recent inductees, allegedly an all-female "infiltration unit. Viewed a certain way, UX offers the same thing as Wikipedia or Google Earth — information for the community to do with as they please. But whereas Wikipedia relies on the wisdom of the masses to perfect its frustratingly imperfect data, while flashmobs rally as many participants as possible, UX remains private.

They reject openness, spurn crowds. The group's discretion allows them to slip below the authorities' radar, to operate with impunity, but there is more to it than that: by closing the network, they accomplish better works. UX quietly create wonders, carefully rescue treasures. Members are expected to be capable, informed, autonomous.

The doing, not the discussion, is what matters. Because of this pragmatism, the Untergunther always knew they would have to reveal their venture to the Pantheon staff. Two, 10 or 50 years after the gears are set in motion, they must still be regularly tended. At a certain point, the administrator would need to be clued in.

Standing with my tour-guide under the clock's black hands, I ask him if the mechanism still works. I don't know. At the end of September , the Untergunther claim they met with Bernard Jeannot, administrator of the Pantheon, and his assistant Pascal Monnet. In the book, Monnet's name loses an 'n. Monnet was less enthused. Still, everything seemed set for the clock to be mounted, for it to resume functioning — except that it didn't.

Weeks passed. The administration, UX allege, did not want to reveal their failure to maintain the clock, or the way it had been restored. With real sorrow in his voice, Kunstmann confesses they "misjudged the internal tensions that ruled at the CNM [the organization responsible for Paris's monuments] and the administration of the Pantheon. How different interests would exploit this affair to pursue their own agendas. Monnet ascended to the top seat. That we underestimated these factors. It was an oddly naive mistake. Most citizens of Paris — indeed, most citizens of the world — know to never underestimate the hopelessness of their bureaucrats.

Blinded by their own panache, UX assumed their work would be embraced by the very people it shamed. Instead, two months later, the clock had still not been mounted. The Untergunther are usually content for their restorations to remain hidden, but they were curious about their Pantheon handiwork.

UX did not even know if the repair job had been successful. They decided to test it, on a day when the Pantheon is closed. On December 24, the Untergunther once again slipped past security and into the building. They mounted the clock. It began to chime. The mechanism was found to lose less than one minute per day — Viot deemed it "acceptable. But when Monnet returned from his holiday, he marched up the Pantheon's steps and gazed furiously at the tick-tick-ticking timepiece.

He called a clockmaker to unmake the clock. The man who came, reportedly from the maison Lepaute, refused to sabotage the mechanism. Instead, he removed the escapement wheel — the same piece damaged those decades before, rebuilt by Viot. At , the Wagner mechanism stopped. Kunstmann is still livid. He thinks only of his career, to have a good retirement.

The Pantheon administrator responds in an unmistakeable tone. It is part of an active case and the law prohibits me from commenting. After the story of the clock repair broke, journalists swarmed — and Kunstmann once again came forward, revealing all. Monnet agreed with this characterization, pursuing the Untergunther in court. But there was one problem: They didn't seem to have committed a crime. Nothing was damaged during the Untergunther's stay at the Pantheon, and at the time there was no such thing as "trespassing" on public property. This has since been rectified, with a bill passed in December Authorities had to wait almost an entire year before finding a reason to bring UX in.

On August 14, , Pantheon security claimed to find four members trying to force the building's locks. Four members of Untergunther, revealed before the court. One percent? The charges were ultimately dismissed. Kunstmann says UX took back the removed escapement wheel, stealing it from Monnet's office. LMDP claim to have used the Pantheon for another full year, staging photo exhibits and a festival of police films.

And the clock? The way that Untergunther tell it, this acquittal was inevitable.