four moments to remember from the national tribute ceremony to the resistance fighter

The Armenian resistance fighter, executed on February 21, 1944 by German soldiers, was buried Wednesday evening at the Pantheon alongside his wife Mélinée and a plaque bearing the names of 23 comrades in the struggle.



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Emmanuel Macron in front of the coffins of Missak and Mélinée Manouchian, at the Panthéon, February 21, 2024. (CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON / AFP)

“You enter here as a soldier, with your comrades, with your brothers in arms. (…) France, grateful, welcomes you. The resistance fighter Missak Manouchian was buried in the Pantheon on Wednesday February 21, eighty years to the day after his execution by German soldiers in 1944. The coffin of the stateless communist activist, who died for France, was carried into the temple alongside that of his wife, Mélinée, and a plaque bearing the names of 23 comrades of struggle shot on the same day, at the end of a national tribute concluded with a speech by Emmanuel Macron. Here are four sequences to remember from the ceremony.

Reading Missak’s letter to Mélinée Manouchian by Patrick Bruel

The last words of a condemned man. Among the most moving moments of the pantheonization ceremony, the reading of the farewell letter written by Missak Manouchian to his wifeon February 21, 1944, moments before being shot by the Nazis alongside his comrades.

Patrick Bruel, who read the text written by Missak Manouchian to his beloved, described on France 2 the“tremendous honor” And “privilege” to have been chosen. The artist dedicated a song to the resistance fighters executed at Mont Valérien with To the memories that we are in his album Once againreleased in 2022. He was then asked by Jean-Pierre Sakoun, president of the Unité laïque association, to join the sponsorship committee for the pantheonization of Missak Manouchian.

This letter, which has become historic, and its reinterpretation by the communist poet Louis Aragon in 1955, with the poem Stanzas to rememberhave inspired by tributes from many artists. Among them, Léo Ferré, who composed in 1959 The Red Posterin reference to the document plastered in the French streets by the Nazis to discredit Manouchian and several other figures of the Resistance.

The Red Poster, the song by Léo Ferré performed by Feu! Chatterton

“Twenty-three who shouted France as they fell.” It’s the French group Feu! Chatterton who was chosen to perform The Red Postera song composed by Léo Ferré and inspired by a poem by Louis Aragon in tribute to the resistance fighters shot at Mont Valérien.

The group has regularly covered this song in concert since fall 2021. “It was obvious: it was in the fall of 2021, right during the rise of Eric Zemmour during the presidential campaign” explained to AFP the group’s multi-instrumentalist, Sébastien Wolf. “There was a sort of correspondence with this song in our set and the political period”. The musician explained to AFP that he hoped to make an audience think “from all political sides” : “Those who made bad choices, because of the crisis, because of fear, perhaps they will understand that it is not the foreigner the problem.”

Emmanuel Macron salutes the “shadow soldier” who “wanted to be a poet”

“He who dies for universal freedom is always right in the face of History.” The President of the Republic paid tribute in a speech to Missak Manouchian and her commitment, “drunk with freedom and intoxicated with courage, enraged to defend the country that gave it everything”. Emmanuel Macron returned to the journey of the resistance fighter, survivor of the Armenian genocide and refugee in France, who “dream of universal emancipation” And “committed against fascism within the Communist International”.

“Missak Manouchian, you enter here as a soldier with your comrades, those of ‘L’Affiche’, of Mont Valérien”concluded the Head of State, for whom “the order of the night is now complete”. “Today, it is no longer the winter sun on the hill; it is raining in Paris and France, grateful, welcomes you.”

As he returned to Missak Manouchian’s journey, Emmanuel Macron’s speech was punctuated with variations around the question: “Is this how men live?”

The Head of State was here referring to another title of a poem by Louis Aragon, also set to song by Léo Ferré.

A tribute to the “French people of preference” and “of hope”

“The France of 2024 had to honor those who were France 24 times over.” During his speech, Emmanuel Macron insisted on the commitment to France of Missak and Mélinée Manouchian, but also of the 23 other resistance fighters executed on February 21, 1944.

The Head of State honored these other fighters shot at Mont Valérien, “strangers, and yet our brothers”. Recalling Missak Manouchian’s requests for French naturalization, refused twice by the authorities, he put the “French by birth” and those “of hope”engaged in the Resistance, who all “defended the Enlightenment and did not shy away”.

A way of highlighting one of the objectives of this pantheonization: “Remember that being French does not come from origin, religion, first name, but from will.”

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