The Head of State attended this Friday, June 18, the military ceremony at the Mont Valérien memorial near Paris, the main place of execution of resistance fighters and hostages in France by the German army during World War II. He will later fly to Berlin for a working dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In the presence of the Prime Minister and several members of the government, he notably elevated Léon Gautier, 98, to the rank of Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, and decorated with the military medal four active men who distinguished themselves in external operations, particularly in the Sahel.
Previously he received at the Élysée Léon Gautier and Colette Marin-Catherine, “tireless witness of the merits of his deported resistance brother” and former resistance member herself, “two personalities marked by their concern for transmitting the memory of the Resistance and of its values ”, according to the Élysée. The 92-year-old resistance fighter, made famous by the 2021 Oscar-winning documentary “Colette”, received the resistance medal for her brother posthumously.
After the decorations, the president then approached Hubert Germain, bowing and shaking the hands of the centenarian wearing his green beret and seated in his wheelchair in front of the immense Cross of Lorraine adorning the wall of the monument. They then gathered in the crypt where the last of the Order of the Liberation, resistance from the first hour who left for London at the end of June 1940, will be buried.
The day after his arrival in London on June 17, 1940, De Gaulle called on French soldiers, engineers and workers to join him in continuing the fight against Nazi Germany, despite the armistice requested by Marshal Pétain. “Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished,” he declared, concluding his famous radio intervention, which very few French people had heard at the time.
The appeal of June 18 and its legacy are praised by the entire political class on this last day of the electoral campaign before the first round of regional and departmental elections on Sunday. “Never give up, never resign yourself, even when the worst seems certain: the appeal of June 18 continues to inspire our political action,” tweeted the president of the National Rally Marine Le Pen. For Xavier Bertrand, president (ex-LR), “whatever happens, the flame of the French Resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. “
“Strength of soul”
A legionary during World War II, Hubert Germain fought in Syria, Libya where he took part in the battle of Bir Hakeim, in Egypt, in Italy, in Provence, in the Vosges and in Alsace. Wounded and decorated by General de Gaulle at the end of June 1944 in Italy, the veteran is now a resident of the Invalides. Only 1,038 people received the title of Companion of the Liberation.
“We owe it to ourselves to be inspired by this strength of soul”, the Head of State told him on June 18, 2020: “Your courage, your virtue in the Roman sense of the term, are a source of pride for our country and for us. still inspire ”.
The 177 marines of the Free French Forces of the Kieffer commando, integrated into the Royal Marine Commando N ° 4, are the only Frenchmen in uniform to have taken part in the Allied landings. Bearing the name of Lieutenant-Commander Philippe Kieffer, who had formed this group of volunteers, the commando, trained in Scotland, landed on June 6, 1944 at Sword Beach.
During the visit of the crypt, Prime Minister Jean Castex exchanged outside with several young children descended from resistance fighters, who wore the decorations of their ancestors, discussing with them their memory and the importance of transmitting this memory, a political will of President Macron as the last direct witnesses of the war disappear.
During this time also, while making the V of victory, Colette Marin-Catherine had slipped to the camera: “We will have them, it is the victory. Thank you my little ones ”.
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