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WWII Resistance Fighters, Missak and Wife Mélinée Manouchian, Laid to Rest in Paris Panthéon

Updated: Feb 22


WWII Resistance Fighters, Missak and Wife Mélinée Manouchian, Laid to Rest in Paris Panthéon

In a moving ceremony attended by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, French President Emmanuel Macron, and other dignitaries, the remains of WWII resistance fighter Missak Manouchian and his wife Mélinée Manouchian found their final resting place in the prestigious Panthéon in Paris.



The Panthéon, a revered mausoleum, houses the remains of France's most esteemed figures, including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Èmile Zola, and Marie Curie. The enshrinement ceremony, which took place on the exact 80th anniversary of their deaths, commemorated the sacrifice and bravery of the Manouchians.


During the event, Macron paid heartfelt tribute to the couple, stating, "A grateful France welcomes you, Missak and Mélinée. The France of 2024 owes you this honor." The French president highlighted the significance of Manouchian's fight for freedom and his enduring connection to his beloved Armenia, which he envisioned while walking the streets of Paris as a free man.



The coffins of Missak and Mélinée Manouchian, draped in French flags, were solemnly carried into the Panthéon by members of the French foreign legion. The Panthéonization ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, former President François Hollande, and various members of both the Armenian and French governments, along with legislative bodies and public figures.


Notably, the names of 23 of Manouchian's fellow Resistance fighters, most of whom were executed alongside him by the Nazis on February 21, 1944, will be engraved in the vault where the couple is laid to rest. Manouchian led a courageous group of foreign Resistance fighters, including Jews, in conducting attacks and acts of sabotage against German forces during the Nazi occupation of France in 1943.


Macron highlighted that Manouchian embodies the universal values of France and carries a part of the nation's greatness. The Panthéonization ceremony serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by these heroes during a tumultuous period in history.



 

Last Letters by Missak Manouchian

Source: Lettres des Fusillés, preface de Jacques Duclos, Editions Sociales, Paris. 1970;

Translated: by Mitch Abidor


Turkish-born Armenian Missak Manouchian had written poetry and edited political and literary journals before the war. Head of the Armenian section of the FTP-MOI, he was promoted to chief of the Parisian unit in 1943. His is perhaps the most famous and beautiful of all final letters. It inspired the poet Louis Aragon to write a poem about the group, which was later set to music by Leo Ferré.


-


My dear Melinée, my beloved little orphan,


In a few hours I will no longer be of this world. We are going to be executed today at 3:00. This is happening to me like an accident in my life; I don’t believe it, but I nevertheless know that I will never see you again.


What can I write you? Everything inside me is confused, yet clear at the same time.


I joined the Army of Liberation as a volunteer, and I die within inches of Victory and the final goal. I wish for happiness for all those who will survive and taste the sweetness of the freedom and peace of tomorrow. I'm sure that the French people, and all those who fight for freedom, will know how to honor our memory with dignity. At the moment of death, I proclaim that I have no hatred for the German people, or for anyone at all; everyone will receive what he is due, as punishment and as reward. The German people, and all other people will leave in peace and brotherhood after the war, which will not last much longer. Happiness for all... I have one profound regret, and that’s of not having made you happy; I would so much have liked to have a child with you, as you always wished. So I'd absolutely like you to marry after the war, and, for my happiness, to have a child and, to fulfill my last wish, marry someone who will make you happy. All my goods and all my affairs, I leave them to you and to my nephews. After the war you can request your right to a war pension as my wife, for I die as a regular soldier in the French army of liberation.


With the help of friends who'd like to honor me, you should publish my poems and writings that are worth being read. If possible, you should take my memory to my parents in Armenia. I will soon die with 23 of my comrades, with the courage and the serenity of a man with a peaceful conscience; for, personally, I've done no one ill, and if I have, it was without hatred. Today is sunny. It’s in looking at the sun and the beauties of nature that I loved so much that I will say farewell to life and to all of you, my beloved wife, and my beloved friends. I forgive all those who did me evil, or who wanted to do so, with the exception of he who betrayed us to redeem his skin, and those who sold us out. I ardently kiss you, as well as your sister and all those who know me, near and far; I hold you all against my heart. Farewell. Your friend, your comrade, your husband.


Manouchian Michel


P.S. I have 15,000 francs in the valise on the rue de Plaisance. If you can get it, pay off all my debts and give the rest to Arméne. MM

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