Sarkozy pays tribute to French resistance hero
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.