Issued on: 26/11/2020 – 21:02
President Macron paid tribute today to Daniel Cordier, one of the last French Resistance fighters who risked their lives to help liberate France from the Nazis.
Cordier who died on Friday at the age of 100, was one of only two remaining Compagnons de la Libération, a group of 1038 people who had put their lives in danger to free France from the occupation, and were later given the title by President De Gaulle.
The only remaining living Compagnon, 100 year old Hubert Germain joined today’s solemn ceremony in Paris, wearing full uniform and seated in a wheelchair as the choir of the French army sang La Marseillaise.
As Emmanual Macron addressed those gathered in the courtyard of Les Invalides, he reminded his audience that Cordier had been ready to die for France, at the age of only 19.
“The flame that you and your companions lit will never die away,” he declared before promising “I will make sure of it.”
Former president François Hollande attended the ceremony as well as the ministers for the armed forces and Veterans, among only 30 people permitted in line with Covid restrictions.
Macron looked back at Cordier’s life, describing him as a “free Frenchman” and remembering how he had joined the Resistance in 1940, shocked by Pétain’s surrender to the Germans and determined to fight back.
Cordier became part of the secret intelligence service in London until 1942 when he was parachuted back into France, to work as secretary to General De Gaulle’s representative in France, Jean Moulin.
He became Moulin’s right-hand man and built a tremendous bond with him until Moulin’s arrest and torture by the Gestapo in July 1943. After his death Cordier was also targeted and so continued to work in the intelligence service of the Resistance from London.
President Macron met Cordier on several occasions told those at the ceremony today that even at the end of his life, Cordier’s eyes filled with tears at the mention of Jean Moulin, the mentor to whom he remained deeply attached.
In his later years Cordier became a historian and penned a mammoth, minutely researched portrait of Moulin in 3 volumes, defending his great hero against accusations by some historians that he had been a communist agent.
Cordier was a gifted writer and his memoirs of the war years, written in 2009 and enigmatically titled Alias Caracalla, were awarded the Prix Renaudot.
Throughout his long life his politics changed drastically. He had been raised to have anti-Semitic ideas by his stepfather but as he grew older and through his association with Jean Moulin, he abandoned his earlier attitudes, telling a journalist in 2010, according to Le Figaro newspaper, ‘that anti-Semitism will always be the shame of my life.”
He was a key supporter of the Centre Pompidou, having become a successful art dealer after the war and in debate ahead of the 2013 law legalizing gay marriage, he was a vocal supporter, after feeling forced to hide his own homosexuality for decades.
Today Emmanuel Macron ended the short ceremony in the cold November courtyard of the Invalides with a simple message, saying “Adieu Caracalla, Merci.”