Sarkozy pays trib­ute to French re­sis­tance hero

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY MARTIN BRIGHT

THE FRENCH re­sis­tance hero Ray­mond Aubrac died last week at the age of 97 in a Paris hospi­tal. Born Ray­mond Sa­muel in 1914 into a mid­dle-class Jewish fam­ily of shop­keep­ers, Mr Aubrac grew to promi­nence with his wife Lu­cie as one of the lead­ers of the left-wing Lib­er­a­tion group. His par­ents were later de­ported and killed in Auschwitz.

He was present at the meet­ing in the Caluire area of Lyon on 21 June 1943 when fel­low re­sis­tance leader Jean­moulin was cap­tured and later killed by the Gestapo. Mr Aubrac him­self was seized and tor­tured by the no­to­ri­ous “butcher of Lyon” Klaus Bar­bie. He later es­caped in a raid or­gan­ised by his wife, an episode which was later made into a film by Claude Berri, star­ring Daniel Auteil as the young re­sis­tance hero.

The “Caluire Af­faire” re­mained the sub­ject of huge con­tro­versy in France and it re­mains un­known who be­trayed those meet­ing in Lyon to the Gestapo. Through­out their lives, Ray­mond and Lu­cie Aubrac, who died in 2007, had to fight ru­mours that the cou­ple had been traitors to the re­sis­tance. These reached a head in 1990 when Jac­ques Verges, who rep­re­sented Klaus Bar­bie at his trial, sug­gested that Mr Aubrac had be­trayed Jean Moulin to the Nazis.

Fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of a book in 1997, Aubrac, Lyon 1943 by Ger­ard Chauvy, which made the same claim, the Aubracs sub­mit­ted them­selves to a five-hour grilling by panel of his­to­ri­ans con­vened by the news­pa­per Lib­er­a­tion. They emerged bruised from the ex­pe­ri­ence, but with their rep­u­ta­tions in­tact.

Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy and So­cial­ist leader Fran­cois Hol­lande both paid trib­ute to one of the last great fig­ures of the re­sis­tance, who worked up un­til his final days vis­it­ing schools to ed­u­cate young peo­ple about the dark­est pe­riod of French his­tory. Mr Sarkozy said he was one of the “he­roes of the shad­ows who saved the hon­our of France”.

In later life, Mr Aubrac be­came a cam­paigner for the im­mi­grants and the dis­pos­sessed in France and was deeply in­volved in the Pales­tinian cause.

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