special edition

France: the Manouchian couple enters the Pantheon during a ceremony in honor of the resistance fighters

For the first time, foreign resistance fighters enter the Pantheon. Eighty years after being shot by Nazi Germany, Missak Manouchian enters the temple of the nation's greats, accompanied by his wife Mélinée and their brothers in arms, communist resistance fighters during the Second World War.

This photo shows the pedestals where the coffins of Missak Manouchian and his wife Mélinée Manouchian will be installed before the start of the state ceremony for their induction into the Pantheon in Paris on February 21, 2024. © CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON / AFP

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I die on the verge of victory

 .” Eighty years to the day after his execution by the Nazis, the 

resistance fighter Missak Manouchian, communist, poet and stateless person

of Armenian origin, joined the Pantheon this Wednesday evening, for a final recognition of the Nation. Side by side with his wife, Mélinée, resistance fighter and survivor like him of the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, he began his final procession over a few hundred meters to the temple of the great men of the Republic.

By the end of the afternoon, the public was already present along rue Soufflot, which leads to the Pantheon.

The ceremony in their honor began at 6:30 p.m.

, and ended around 8 p.m. The two coffins, draped in the colors of France and carried by soldiers of the Foreign Legion, were carried by soldiers of the Foreign Legion towards the monument, inside which President Emmanuel Macron paid them a final tribute before before they reach the crypt.

The black and white portrait of the pantheonized communist was projected on the facade of a Pantheon illuminated with the colors of the

French flag

– blue, white, red – especially for the occasion. The coffins of the resistance couple stopped three times, to mark the three key moments in Missak Manouchian's life: the Armenian genocide, her arrival in France, and finally, her commitment to the French resistance, says our special correspondent,

Baptiste Coulon

LIVE | Missak Manouchian and her resistance comrades enter the Pantheon. https://t.co/5Plu9YteQo

— Élysée (@Elysee) February 21, 2024

My dear Mélinée, in a few hours, I will no longer be in this world

At the first stop, 90 children from the choir of the popular mastery of the comic opera of Paris performed “They fell,” a song by Franco-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour, whose main theme is the Armenian genocide. At the second stop, four actors read extracts from texts from Missak Manouchian's notebooks in which he recounts his love of France, its culture and its language. 

Finally, at the third stop, it was Missak Manouchian the resistance fighter who was mentioned. “The Song of the Partisans” is sung by the choir of the French army: the interpretation of “L’Affiche rouge” by the group Feu Chatterton, a cover of music by Léo Ferré, which takes up the last words of Missak Manouchian addressed to his wife in a final letter a few hours before being shot. “

My dear Mélinée, my beloved little orphan. In a few hours, I will no longer be in this world

”: the first words of his letter to his beloved, read by Patrick Bruel, pierced the silence, at nightfall, in a strikingly emotional moment.

The names of the 23 comrades-in-arms engraved 

At the foot of these coffins, a black and white photo of Missak and Mélinée Manouchian. Giant screens then broadcast a visual representing the 23 members of the Manouchian group, whose names were listed one by one, in a very solemn manner. Like the Manouchian couple, most were not French. They were Polish, Hungarian, but also Romanian, Spanish and even Italian... Shot with Missak Manouchian on February 21, 1944 at Mont-Valérien, these 23 companions entered the Pantheon in a more symbolic form: their names will be engraved in the vault where the Manouchians are going to rest.

View of the coffins of Missak Manouchian, who became a figure of the Resistance during the Second World War, executed at Mont-Valérien in February 1944, and of his wife Mélinée Manouchian, covered with the French flag, placed in front of the Red Poster before the ceremony The induction of Missak Manouchian into the Pantheon, where the great figures of French history are honored, in Paris, February 21, 2024. © REUTERS - SARAH MEYSSONNIER

Also read: Missak and Mélinée Manouchian, symbols of foreign resistance in France

Tribute to 23 foreigners, our brothers nonetheless

,” exclaimed the national secretary of the Communist Party, Fabien Roussel, arriving in the rain for the tribute. “

 Finally the communist resistance enters the Pantheon

,” he said, thanking Emmanuel Macron for this gesture. They thus joined Jean Moulin and the Gaullist resistance, pantheonized since the 1960s.

A “

French preferably

Is this how men live? 

», insisted Emmanuel Macron around 7:45 p.m., inside the building, during a tribute paid to the freedom fighter, invoking the words of Léo Ferré's song and the title of Louis Aragon's poem of the same name. The president praised the memory of a “

preferably Frenchman

”. Because Missak Manouchian, born into an Armenian family, died stateless after having applied twice and unsuccessfully for French nationality. Honoring him, his wife and his comrades, is for the Head of State, according to the Élysée, a way of showing that being French is not due to origin or religion, but to will.

Eighty years after his farewell letter in which Missak Manouchian said he was certain that “

the French people and all the freedom fighters [would] honor our memory with dignity 

”, it is done. The Head of State signs his fourth pantheonization there, after those of the writer Maurice Genevoix, Simone Veil and the music hall star Joséphine Baker. He also announced that of Robert Badinter, who died on February 9.


Special edition 6:30 p.m.-7 p.m. - Induction ceremony of Missak Manouchian into the Pantheon


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