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How a singer helped win a war
Sometimes famous people are vain. They only care about themselves. But Josephine Baker was an exception. In the 1930s and 1940s, Baker was one of the most famous women in France. She was a big part of the new jazz genre and culture and had a diverse group of fans. The French people especially loved her. And she loved France. So when World War II started, she wanted to help the nation that had given her so much.
In 1940, armed German troops entered Paris. When this happened, some French people formed a secret alliance. It was called the French Resistance. The group worked for the defense of France. It helped the European and American armies fight the Germans.
Baker was an important member of the Resistance. She had three jobs. The first was to carry messages to and from other members. The messages were written in code on her sheets of music. The second was to provide shelter and supply goods to Resistance members. It would have been dangerous if the Germans found them.
Baker’s third job was the most important. Baker held concerts for European politicians and army members. She lured them in, promising an entertaining show. She enchanted them with her singing and dancing, and got lots of applause. But Baker was always equipped with a small notebook at these concerts. She listened for details about the war and wrote them down. Baker sorted the details and gave authoritative reports to the Resistance.
Some thought Baker’s fame would be an obstacle. The Germans knew who she was, but they didn’t think she was smart enough to work for the Resistance. So she could get information from the Germans easily. This helped the Resistance and the French army save lives and win the war.
Baker had a big impact on the Resistance’s work. She got many awards for her help. When she died, the army had a special ceremony to thank her again for her bravery.
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