Madeleine Barot was born in Châteauroux in a family of teachers. She went to secondary school in Clermont-Ferrand and in Versailles, and belonged to the high-school branch of the “Fédé” movement.
She furthered her studies in History at the Sorbonne and started working as a trainee-librarian with the Bibliothèque Nationale (National Library). She later was an archivist with the French School in Rome where she stayed until 1940. Then she joined the student “Fédé” movement – the French branch of the Universal Federation of Christian Students’ Associations – in which she was a very active member.
World War II
As soon as Italy entered the war, Madeleine Barot was repatriated from Rome and was appointed by the pastor Marc Boegner to the secretariat of the Cimade (Inter-movement committee along with evacuees) which she set up with Suzanne de Dietrich, in order to help solve the tragic problems refuges and evacuees were confronted to.
From then on she devoted her intelligence and energy to coordinating the help to internment camps, especially the one in Gurs (Pyrénnées-Atantiques), where about 40,000 foreigners and Jews were forcefully assembled under the Vichy regime. She often visited camps and organised reception centres at the Chambon-sur-Lignon. She even organised flight procedures to Switzerland for the most threatened Jews.
She was part of the research group which wrote the Thèses de Pomeyrol (Pomeyrol Theses) in 1941, emphasising the resistance of the French Reformed Church to Nazism.
After the Liberation Madeleine Barot was in charge of detainees suspected of collaboration, especially at Drancy (near Paris).
In 1953, Madeleine Barot became Director of the department of cooperation between men and women within the Church and the Society of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, as well as the head of the Education department for development. In 1968 she worked with the SODEPAX (Society for Development and Peace) under the guidance of the COE (Ecumenical Council of Churches) and the Catholic Church. This activity enabled her to travel to West Africa, to Madagascar and to South America where the ongoing decolonisation process prompted her significant action in favour of women’s rights, and won her international recognition.
Between 1974 and 1979, she was secretary to the International and Economic Social Affairs Committee of the French Protestant Federation.
In 1980, she became Vice-President of the ACAT (Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture).
In 1988, Madeleine Barot was nominated Doctor Honoris Causa of the theology faculty in Paris.
- CABANEL Patrick et ENCREVE André , Dictionnaire biographique des protestants français, de 1787 à nos jours, Editions de Paris - Max Chaleil, Paris, 2015, Tome 1 : A-C
- POUJOL Geneviève, Un féminisme sous tutelle – Les protestantes françaises 1810-1960, Max Chaleil éditeur, Paris, 2003
The French Protestant Federation (FPF)
Since 1905, the Fédération protestante de France has included most Protestant Churches and Associations. Most branches of Protestantism which have grown up since the Reformation are represented.
The association was founded in 1939 to help displaced people and still continues to aid refugees from all over the world and to defend their rights.
Suzanne de Dietrich (1891-1981)
Born into a Lutheran-Reformed Alsatian family, Suzanne de Dietrich, after having completed engineering studies, became passionately involved in Bible study, with very demanding requirements and openings towards ecumenicalism.
Protestant women in the Fédé movement
Tommy Fallot (1844-1904)
Since his youth, Tommy Fallot had always been shocked by the protestant Church’s lack of interest in social issues (perhaps this may have been due to the fact that at the end of the XIXth century, there were many conflicting opinions). Nonetheless, when he grew up, he became a pastor and was a founder member of the great “Christian Socialist” movement.
Charles Gide (1847-1932)
Charles Gide was a theorist of social economy and a leading figure in the French economic cooperative movement and Christian socialism. A spirit of solidarity pervades all his work.
Charles Westphal (1896-1972)
Charles Westphal was a pastor of the Eglise Réformée de France (he was a man of great discernment and sound judgement). Not only will he be remembered as someone whose great spirituality had a deep influence on many people, but also as a highly cultured man in the field of literature.