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Danielle Mitterrand
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First Lady
    (October 29, 1924-November 22, 2011)
    Born in Verdun, France
    Birth name was Danielle Emilienne Isabelle Gouze
    Wife of French President Francois Mitterrand
    Founded the human rights group France Libertes (1986)
    She frequently skipped official functions.
    As First Lady, she spoke out about human rights issues in countries the French were trying to maintain or establish relations with, creating headaches at the Foreign Office.
    She said in an understatement, 'I often found myself at odds with the diplomats.'
    Despite her human rights advocacy, she embraced Cuban dictator Fidel Castro on the steps of the presidential palace.
    At seventeen, she joined the French Resistance as a nurse.
    Her and Francois's oldest son Pascal died in infancy.
    She said her husband's infidelity was 'neither a discovery nor a drama.'
    She invited her husband's long-term mistress and their daughter to his funeral and comforted the daughter when she started crying.
    Asked why she did not stick to tradition as First Lady, she replied, 'There is no traditional role. Each woman acts according to her own conscience.'
    Saddam Hussein tried to have her killed with a car bomb in retaliation for her outspoken support of Iraq's Kurdish minority (July 6, 1992).

Credit: C. Fishel

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