Apocalypse 10 lives - Learning resource files

Margot Wyckersloot

  • Nationality: French
  • Birth date: September 11, 1902
  • Family/social situation:

    Born to a family of farmers, she has a twin brother, Catulle; an older brother, Sébastien, who will be drafted as a combatant; and two little sisters, Lucie and Émilie.

  • Occupation:

    Student

Biographical elements of the character
Elements of the historical context
  • June 28, 1914

    The public elementary school of Saint-Jans-Cappel, on the French side of the border with Belgium.
    End of the school year and the last civics class.

  • The Triple Entente allies the Great Britain, France, and Russia; the Triple Alliance allies Italy, Germany, and Austria-Hungary, even though Italy is officially neutral. The “Sacred Union” allies disparate political parties in France.

    By the Treaty of Sedan of 1870, Alsace and Lorraine are ceded to Wilhelm II of Germany.

  • August 1, 1914

    The campaign at the foot of Mont Noir, Franco-Belgian border.
    Margot and twin brother Catulle help in the fields. Margot is reminiscing about past summers spent with her friend, Marguerite de Crayencour, when the church bells begin to ring.

  • Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987, writer).

    Church bells ring to herald mass mobilization on August 1, 1914.

  • August 20, 1914

    The church at Saint-Jans-Cappel, French side of the border with Belgium.
    Arrival of Belgian refugees fleeing German atrocities against civilians.

  • The flight of Belgian civilians from the German army. The unexpected resistance of the Belgian army is punished by harsh German reprisals.

  • September 19, 1914

    Woods on top of Mont Noir, French-Belgian border.
    From their secret viewpoint, Margot and Catulle watch German soldiers swarm over the Belgian plain.

  • The armies’ “race to the sea.”

  • November 2, 1914

    The Wyckersloot farm, French side of the border with Belgium.
    Margot and her mother look at the desolation around them after the German troops have passed through, pillaging farms on their way. The men are at the front; all the farm work is left to the women and children.

  • Daily life on the home front, in regions affected by the battles. The aftermath of the bombing of Reims Cathedral by the German army, as reported by Albert Londres (first published in Le Matin on September 29, 1914).

  • March 13, 1917

    Rue de Berthen, Saint-Jans-Cappel, French side of the border with Belgium.
    British soldiers distribute firewood. There are many restrictions.

  • Rationing, shortages. Soldiers on leave.

  • April 16, 1918

    The Wyckersloot farm, French side of the border with Belgium.
    Margot meets Ernst in the farmyard and accompanies him into the kitchen. Ernst’s commanding officer is already there, received coldly by Margot’s mother. 

    CRISS-CROSSING A LIFE

  • The difficult relations between German troops and the civilian population in occupied France.

  • November 11, 1918

    Cellar of the Wyckersloot farmhouse.
    The family is sheltering here during the last fighting before their liberation by the Canadians.

  • Children in the war. The ceasing of hostilities and the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918.