Alejandro Vela

Alejandro Vela
Mentor: Dr. Gayle Zachmann
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"I have consistently pursued my interests of Jewish Studies, French, and History throughout my undergraduate career, working towards graduating in a field that includes these topics and aiming to include them as a way to improve my career in the future. My undergraduate career has instilled in me a passion for these topics and I knew I would want to incorporate these subjects into my undergraduate thesis. The University Scholars Program was the perfect opportunity for me to pursue these topics and conduct research abroad on reprisal attacks during the Second World War in France. Being able to visit the places and talk to the people involved with the particular town I am researching was extraordinary and one of the best opportunities I have ever had."


French, History, International Studies


Certificate in Holocaust Studies

Research Interests

  • World War II
  • Holocaust
  • French Resistance

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program 2016


  • French Club
  • Navigators International



Hobbies and Interests

  • Reading
  • Soccer
  • Video Games
  • History

Research Description

Resistance, Reprisals, and Elsa Triolet
"There are arrests, tortures, executions by the thousand. The danger lies not in doing this or that, but in happening to be on the spot where a raid occurs...Those who fight, and those who help the fighters, and those who tremble—all of us are waiting” (my italics). Just as the French resistance appealed to pre-World War II ideals of the French revolution: liberté, égalité, and fraternité, Elsa Triolet (1896-1970) attempts to unify the French and to reinforce resistance to an occupier and a government infamous for exclusionary practices. As a Jewish immigrant, a writer, and a member of the French resistance, Elsa Triolet fought for an inclusive society, and the liberty and religious freedom associated with the values of the French revolution. In the above quote from “Le Premier accroc coûte deux cent francs,” the final text in the Goncourt Prize winning four tale collection (of the same name) composed clandestinely during the occupation, she desperately seeks to unify an “us” through a story that documents a savage reprisal in Saint-Donat, France. Precipitated by the Allied landings and acts of resistance in the area, the reprisal ravaged the city and surrounding area; rape, murder, and destruction left the city devastated. While Triolet alludes to waiting and what is known as French “attentisme,” I plan to show her text may function as an act of resistance.