The photo has become iconic, symbolizing in itself the period of purification. A woman, her head shaved and her forehead marked with a hot iron, walking briskly with a baby in her arms, in the middle of a hostile crowd. In the wake of the liberation of France in 1944, resistance fighters from the first and last hours arrested or summarily executed “collaborators” and killed around 20,000 women, accused of “horizontal collaboration”.

Photographer Robert Capa took this photo on August 16, 1944, which was named “La Tondue de Chartres”. Her name was Simone Touseau and she was 23 years old. Julie Héraclès’ first novel, You Know Nothing About Me (JCLattès), takes the story of this woman and turns it into a work of fiction. Fiction which, however, clashes harshly with historical reality, because Simone Touseau was a convinced collaborationist.

The book was released on August 23 and was selected for nine literary prizes, to the great pride of its publishing house JCLattès. Julie Héraclès also won the Stanislas Prize for best first novel. “I never imagined I would get this award. For me, it’s an extraordinary adventure that goes beyond anything I could have thought, it’s incredible, I have no more words”, reacted to Le Parisien, the author from the commune of Eure-et -Loir, who wrote to Réunion. “If I had stayed in Chartres, I would have been too immersed in the city,” she explains.

The novel is not intended to be historical, but is freely inspired by real events, while featuring the famous photo of Robert Capa. Simone Touseau becomes Simone Grivise and, in the first person, Julie Héraclès imagines how this “free” woman with an “incandescent temperament” becomes a collaborationist. Struck by social downgrading, she is the victim of rape followed by an abortion. The man in question will join the Resistance. Simone Grivise also has, despite her anti-Semitism, a Jewish friend.

Although a fictional novel, the discrepancy with historical reality is surprising. “We need a guy like Adolf Hitler”, explains to her classmates Simone Touseau, who enjoys drawing swastikas in her notebooks in class since 1935. When the German troops take up their quarters in Chartres, she falls in love with a German soldier, Erich Göz, with whom she had a little girl. This is the baby we see in the photo.

In 1943, she joined Jacques Doriot’s French Popular Party, one of the most important collaborationist parties. His journey is traced in detail in the book La Tondue by historians Gérard Leray and Pierre Frétigné.

On August 16, 1944, Simone Touseau and her mother, Germaine, were part of a group of around ten women who were arrested by resistance fighters to be shorn in the courtyard of the Prefecture. Three days later, neighbors filed a complaint against the two women, accusing them of denouncing five men in February 1943 who were listening to the BBC. They will be deported and there will be three of them returning from the camps.

During her detention in Chartes prison, Simone Touseau learned that Erich died on the Eastern Front. At the trial, his friendship with a Swiss member of the Sipo-SD, the German security police, whose participation in torture sessions is proven, will be highlighted. The affair will finally be disoriented and, in 1947, Simone Touseau will be sentenced to ten years of national indignity for belonging to a collaborationist party. On the other hand, there is no evidence to confirm that she actually denounced her neighbors.