France Acknowledges Role of Foreigners in Resistance to Nazi Occupation

France: towards a better recognition of the role of foreigners in the resistance to the Nazi occupation

The recognition of Szlama Grzywacz as a “dead for France” by the French state on Saturday February 18 is a further step in recognizing the role of foreigners in the Resistance. This recognition was made on the occasion of a symposium organized at the Senate on the role of Armenians, Poles and Spaniards in the French Resistance.

The recognition of Szlama Grzywacz is seen as a hopeful step towards the pantheonization of Missak Manouchian, an iconic figure of the resistance and leader of a group of 25 resistance fighters executed on February 21, 1944 at Mont-Valerien. Of the 25 men shot, 22 including Manouchian himself belonged to the organization FTP-MOI (Francs-tireurs et partisans – immigrant labor).

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Jean-Pierre Sakoun, president of the association La├»que Unit, at the origin of the symposium, welcomes the recognition of Szlama Grzywacz and hopes that it will open the way to the pantheonization of Missak Manouchian. He signed a forum in the daily Release with the historian Denis Peschanski, specialist in the occupation, entitled “Behind the pantheonization of Missak Manouchian, the shadow army of foreigners who died for France”.

The recognition of Szlama Grzywacz is seen as an act that reinforces the idea that Missak Manouchian, representative of all the foreigners who died for France, has his place in the Pantheon. Jean-Pierre Sakoun believes that a Frenchman is someone who decides to be, and deciding to be French means deciding to defend liberty, equality, fraternity, universalism, language and literature, the authors of this country, and all our ideals which make us a country a little bit particular. We await with hope the announcement of this entry into the Pantheon.

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