Death of Danielle Mitterand

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The widow of President François Mitterand dies at the age of 87

Born Danielle Gouze into a firmly left-leaning household in Verdun on the 29th of October, 1924, the woman who was to become France’s first lady wasted no time in heeding her country’s call during the time of Nazi Occupation. She joined the French Résistance at the tender age of 17. It was while there that she met and fell for a certain “Captain Morland” – alias François Mitterand, who was wanted by the Gestapo at the time. They were to marry in 1944, before the end of the war.

Danielle and her husband Francois Mitterand, pictured with their sons Jean-Christophe and Gilbert in 1974 - the year that Mitterand's illegitmate daughter Mazarine was born. Danielle threatened to divorce him, but her husband proposed a 'contract' that Danielle agreed to.

Her late husband famously described her as his “left conscience” and she was never to flinch from her left-leaning views right up until her death. In 2007, she described the Socialist Party of which her husband was its leader for over two decades as having “no socialist fibre” and had estranged herself from the party. She remained active in organisations in which she still had some faith, such as the humanitarian organisation “France-Libertés”.

Danielle Mitterand on the 4th of October last, speaking at the 25th anniversary of the French humanitarian organisation "France-Libertés"

Her devotion to her husband continued through the years, despite the fact that François was known to have a series of extra-marital affairs. It was a very public sort of humiliation that she had to endure when the existence of another daughter – Mazarine Pingeot – was revealed. She was the of a long-standing affair between Mitterand and Anne Pingeot and the First Lady had known about her existence since her birth in 1974.

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