Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stranded by Love

This is a beautiful and somewhat terrifying story of love and expatriation. A young French woman meets a soldier during World War II, falls in love and follows him to his native Azerbaijan. Never leaves.

“We’re from Lyon. My father Jean was a very influential person there Lyon. He had close ties with [Resistance leader] Charles de Gaulle. My father got weapons to the partisans via secret routes. He also helped arrange covert treatment for wounded partisans,” Joanna recalled.

Shammad Shirmammadov was a Soviet soldier who was captured, held as a prisoner-of-war in Italy, and managed to escape and cross into France in 1944.

He joined the French Resistance and befriended a young man called Paul Botteau Jacques, who had a beautiful sister.

Two years after the end of the war, Shammad and Joanna finally persuaded her father to allow them to marry.

“My father arranged a great wedding for us in Paris, and a month later I got a visa from the Soviet consulate in Paris and set off for this country, Azerbaijan,” she said. “We were on the road for two months; we went through the whole of Europe, then Moscow, and finally got to Baku.”

From Baku, they travelled on to Imishli and finally Murguzalli, where Joanna recalled being “horrified by the heat and the number of mosquitoes”.

“What was even more horrible was that a beautiful Frenchwoman like me should be taken to the village by cart,” she added with a laugh.

You can read the full story at IWPR. Thank you, Myrthe, for sharing.

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