Hubert Germain, last elite French resistance fighter, dies France
Hubert Germain, the last official French resistance hero, has died at the age of 101.
he was the The only surviving 1,038-strong member of the Liberation Order, the highest bravery rank in France, chosen by the wartime state hero, General Charles de Gaulle.
Germain last appeared publicly in June in a wheelchair alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, at a ceremony to commemorate the moment many considered resistance to the Nazi occupation to begin – with De Gaulle’s radio broadcast from London on June 18, 1940.
The son of a general in the French colonial army, he exited the entrance examination to the French Naval College shortly after France fell to the Germans in the summer of 1940.
“I’m going to war,” he told the shocked examiner.
Standing 1.90 meters (6 feet 3 inches) tall, he boarded a ship carrying Polish soldiers to England, where he arrived on June 24, 1940.
His shock at General Philip Petain’s call to lay down his arms led him to make a decision that many at the time thought was hasty and reckless.
He said that he would never forget his first meeting with de Gaulle.
He paused for a moment and looked at me and said, ‘I’ll need you.
“When you’re 18 in the middle of a public catastrophe, it’s something that moves deeply.”
As a member of the French Free Forces and the Foreign Legion, he fought major battles in North Africa at Bir Hakim in Libya, El Alamein in Egypt, and in fierce battles in Tunisia with the Afrika Korps led by German General Erwin Rommel.
He then took part in the decisive French-led landing on the country’s Mediterranean shores in August 1944, setting foot on home soil for the first time in four years.
He later remembers falling into the sand and “crying like a baby”. I have returned to my country.
He then helped liberate the main southern port of Toulon and the valley of the Rhone and Lyon in central France, before striking it with the retreating Germans in the Vosges and Alsace mountains in the east. He was in the Southern Alps when Germany surrendered.
After the war, Germain was appointed adjutant to General Pierre Koenig, commander of the French forces occupying Germany, before being demobilized in 1946.
He soon moved into politics and was mayor of de Gaulle for Saint Chiron, south of Paris, before becoming an MP in 1962 and serving as Minister of Posts and Telecommunications from 1972 to 1974.
Germain will be buried alongside other members of the elite rank at Mont Valerian, the military fortress west of Paris where the Nazis executed more than 1,000 resistance fighters and hostages.