The Christmas holiday season, as jovial and peaceful as it is, can evoke terrible memories for some. Indeed, the dramas, family or not, which occur during the festivities will be painfully reminded to the victims or their loved ones each year. In the case of little Germaine, New Year’s Eve 1911 turned out to be traumatic. Exactly 111 years ago, when she was only 4 years old, the drama of her life unfolded on Christmas Eve.
On December 24, while she was already sleeping peacefully, her father died and her mother was arrested by the gendarmes. Marguerite Dauget, mother of the little one, was sentenced on May 1, 1912 to the assizes to 2 years in prison, suspended for the events that occurred during that famous Christmas night. The circumstances of her husband’s death were reported at the time by daily newspapers fond of sordid news items, as reported today by Le Parisien.
The parents of this little girl, Marguerite and Gaston, lived in a modest apartment in Aubervilliers at the time of the events. On New Year’s Eve, they spend a harmonious family dinner before putting their daughter to bed, a priori happy and looking forward to the next day. They had indeed broken their piggy bank to please the little one for Christmas, and the gifts were waiting for her at the foot of the tree.
An argument then broke out between the two parents, for a trivial reason according to the newspapers of the time. The tone rises, and for good reason: Marguerite accuses her spouse of cheating on her with their neighbor, and of not bringing all of her salary back to the family home. Gaston then slaps his wife violently, and throws porcelain plates in her face. He gives her a knife, daring her to use it. The victim of violence complies, after a brief hesitation. She touches her husband in the heart.
Gaston collapses, blood spurts out. Marguerite panics, and cannot believe that she has committed the irreparable. After several minutes of daze, she went to the Quatres Chemins police station to report the scene to the gendarmes. The commissioner goes to the victim’s home and certifies his death. The scene is morbid: the gifts intended for the little one are strewn on the ground and bathed in the blood of her father.
Marguerite will therefore be sentenced a few months later to two years of suspended criminal imprisonment. The murder of her husband was due to “the drunkenness of the two spouses” according to a newspaper of the time. As for his life after the fact, very little information has remained in the annals. We know that she remarried in 1942 and died on January 15, 1973.
More than a century later, a contextual element is striking when reading the daily newspapers of the time, due to its extreme trivialization.
Gaston, a 29-year-old bronze erector, was very far from the ideal husband – to put it mildly. They had been married for 5 years, and arguments were frequent. Le Petit Parisien reported at the time: “The union was far from perfect. The wrongs were apparently reciprocal.”
However, we also learn that the father of the family had “the gesture easier than the speech”, and that he “preferred to close the conversations with a few violent and sometimes very loudly administered cuffs.” A daily context of extreme violence, therefore.