When Jacques Lusseyran was an eight-year-old Parisian schoolboy, he was blinded in an accident. He finished his schooling determined to participate in the world around him. In 1941, when he was seventeen, that world was Nazi-occupied France. Lusseyran formed a resistance group with fifty-two boys and used his heightened senses to recruit the best. Eventually, Lusseyran was arrested and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in a transport of two thousand resistance fighters. He was one of only thirty from the transport to survive. His gripping story is one of the most powerful and insightful descriptions of living and thriving with blindness, or indeed any challenge, ever published.read more
Jacques Lusseyran (September 19, 1924, to July 27, 1971) was a blind author, professor, and French Resistance leader. Born in Paris, he was blinded in a school accident at the age of eight. At age seventeen, less than a year after the German invasion of France, Lusseyran formed a Resistance group called the Volunteers of Liberty with fifty-two other boys. Because of his ability to read people as a blind person, he was put in charge of recruitment, and the group grew to over six hundred young men. The group later merged with another Resistance group called Défense de la France, which published an underground newspaper that eventually achieved a circulation of 250,000. After the war, it became one of France ’s most respected daily newspapers, France Soir.
In July 1943, Lusseyran was arrested, along with twenty-five other leaders of Défense de la France, and spent nearly fifteen months in the Nazis’ Buchenwald concentration camp. When the U.S. Third Army arrived at Buchenwald in April 1945, Lusseyran was one of roughly thirty survivors of a transport of two thousand French citizens.
After the war, despite his service as part of the underground and his brilliant schoolwork, Lusseyran was denied admission to the École Normale Supérieure, an elite university for training French academics, because of a decree passed by the Vichy government barring “invalids” from public employment. Although for years he was prevented from becoming a professor, he repeatedly presented his case and was eventually able to teach in France. Later he moved to the United States, where he first lectured at Hollins College and then became a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He was a professor at the University of Hawaii in 1971 when, at age forty-seven, he was killed in a car accident with his wife, Marie, not far from Juvardeil in France, where he had been happy as a boy.read more
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