President Emmanuel Macron will bring Missak Manouchian, a Resistance figure of Armenian origin, into the Pantheon, thus saluting his “bravery” and his “quiet heroism”announced Sunday the Elysée in a press release. “Missak Manouchian carries part of our greatness”he “embodies universal values” of liberty, equality, fraternity in the name of which he “defended the Republic”declares the Presidency of the Republic.
Military leader of a group of foreign resistance fighters in the Paris region, this survivor of the Armenian genocide was arrested in November 1943 and shot by the German army, at the age of 37, on February 21, 1944 at Mont-Valérien. He becomes the first foreign and communist resistant to enter the Pantheon. Since 2017, Emmanuel Macron has already pantheonized Simone Veil, Maurice Genevoix and Joséphine Baker.
Missak will enter the Pantheon “accompanied by Mélinee”, his wife of Armenian origin, resistant like him, who survived him 45 years and rests at his side in the cemetery of Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne), specified the presidency. It was the wish of the family, as for Simone Veil and her husband Antoine, who entered the Pantheon in 2018. The Manouchian couple thus remain united in death, even if Mélinée is not herself pantheonized.
83rd anniversary of the Appeal of June 18
This announcement coincides with the 83rd anniversary of the Appeal of June 18, which the President will commemorate as every year in the morning at Mont-Valérien, near Paris, where a thousand resistance fighters and hostages, including Missak Manouchian, were executed by the German Army during the Occupation.
A survivor of the Armenian genocide, stateless, a refugee in France in 1925, Missak Manouchian joined the communist resistance in 1943 where he distinguished himself at the head of a very active network before being arrested and shot by the Germans on February 21, 1944. Celebrated by Aragon and Léo Ferré, Missak Manouchian also entered the collective memory with “The Red Poster”plastered all over Paris by Nazi propaganda during his trial to designate his group for punishment.“The Red Poster” is also the title of a film released in 1976 which immortalized the history of the Manouchian group on screen.
Before him, eight members of the Resistance have already been honored since the transfer of the ashes of Jean Moulin in 1964, including four – Pierre Brossolette, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion and Jean Zay – under François Hollande in 2015.
“I am sure that the French people and all freedom fighters will be able to honor our memory with dignity”wrote Missak to Mélinée, just before dying, also proclaiming to have “no hatred against the German people”.
The pantheonization of Missak Manouchian was ardently desired by the French left, in particular the Communist Party.
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“For us, the main thing is that it is a foreigner who died for France who enters the Pantheon”underlines the communist senator Pierre Ouzoulias, whose grandfather, Albert, was the leader of Missak Manouchian in the Resistance. “It says a lot about what the French Nation is”it’s a “strong message of integration for young people today”he told AFP.
92 resistance fighters and foreign hostages “died for France”
At the same time, 91 resistance fighters and foreign hostages shot like him at Mont-Valérien are also recognized “died for France”. At Mont-Valérien, the Head of State must collect his thoughts in the middle of the morning in the clearing of the Fusillés, where resistance fighters and hostages were executed.
He will decorate a former resistance fighter, Robert Birenbaum, who, like Missak Manouchian, came from the Francs-tireurs et partisans – Immigrant workforce (FTP-MOI) group. Georges Duffau-Epstein, son of resistance fighter Joseph Epstein who was arrested with Missak Manouchian during a clandestine meeting, will also be present.
The president will be accompanied by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, Minister for the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Thierry Burkhard.
The Head of State will then hear the Appeal of June 18 and the Song of the Partisans before a time of meditation in the crypt of Mont-Valérien, where 16 resistance fighters, officers and soldiers who died for France in 1939-45 are buried. as well as Hubert Germain, the last Companion of the Liberation.
The tribute paid on Sunday is part of a long memorial sequence around the 80th anniversary of the end of the Second World War which will continue in 2024 with the Normandy landings and the Liberation of Paris.
The World with AFP