“Manouchian carries a part of our greatness”, Macron said in the statement issued by the Élysée Palace, adding the French-Armenian poet and communist embodied France’s “universal values” of liberty, equality and fraternity.
According to the wishes of his family, his wife Mélinée will join him in the mausoleum, although she will not receive the “pantheonisation” of her husband – the rare tribute reserved only for those who have played an important role in French history.
Manouchian arrived in France in 1925 as a stateless refugee after fleeing violence in Armenia, and joined the country’s communist Resistance movement during World War II. He led a small group of fighters that carried out a string of attacks against occupying Nazi forces in 1943.
Arrest and red poster campaign
In 1944, the group, which included a number of Jews, was put out of action when 23 of its members were rounded up and sentenced to death by a German military court.
Manouchian was shot by the Nazis on February 21, 1944.
The collaborationist Vichy regime later tried to discredit the group and defuse the anger over the executions in an infamous red poster depicting the dead fighters as terrorists.
By entering the Pantheon, Manouchian will become both the first foreign and communist Resistance fighter to be awarded the honour.
In his tribute, Macron also pointed to the “bravery” and “quiet heroism” of Manouchian and other foreign Resistance fighters.
Other major French figures to be reburied in the Pantheon, which sits on a hill in Paris’s Left Bank, include Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Marie Curie.
On Sunday, Macron will decorate Robert Birenbaum—part of the foreign Resistance fighter group alongside Manouchian—at the Mont Valerien site where Manouchian and other resistants were executed by the Nazis.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
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