Shalom Life | May 30, 2015

France Pays Tribute to Four Nazi Resistance Fighters

Emotional ceremony held to honour 70th anniversary of the end of World War II

By: Nathan Burley

Published: May 29th, 2015 in News » World

Photo: Four French Nazi resistance fighters honored at Pantheon Mausoleum

Credit: CTV


Four French citizens who each played a significant role in the resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II were honoured Wednesday in a ceremony that took place at the illustrious Pantheon mausoleum.

The Pantheon was once a church dedicated to St. Genevieve but now stands as a secular monument to esteemed French citizens such as Voltaire and Victor Hugo. As reported by Israel National News, two men and two women - Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion, Pierre Brossolette and Jean Zay were each inducted for their brave contributions to the Nazi resistance. Coffins that were ceremoniously carried into the Pantheon did not hold their actual remains as their families wished for their bodies not to be disturbed.

The BBC wrote of the inductees and their contributions to the resistance,

Tillion, who died in 2008, and de Gaulle-Anthonioz, a niece of former French leader Charles de Gaulle who died in 2002, were caught and deported to the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany.

Brossolette, a radio journalist who broadcast on the BBC during the war, committed suicide after being arrested and tortured in 1944.

Zay, who was minister of education before the war, was killed in 1944, having tried to set up a government-in-exile in north Africa.

Tillion and de Gaulle-Anthonioz are only the second and third females Pantheon inductees after scientist, Marie Curie who was interred in 1995.

In addition to honouring the 70th anniversary of World War II’s conclusion, the ceremony was important in response to the unsettling rise of anti-Semitism in France over the past year or two. President Francois Hollande, who is facing record lows in his popularity gave an impassioned speech directed at the recent intolerance that has been plaguing his country.

The four honourees, said Hollande, "embody the spirit of the Resistance. Faced with the occupation, with submission, they gave the same response: they said 'no', immediately, firmly, clearly," He noted that 70 years after the war there has been a resurgence of malice towards “free thinkers.”

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