One of the last heroes of the French resistance, Frances Daniel Cordier, has died at the age of 100.
One of only two left Friends of Liberation, an honor bestowed by the wartime leader of France, Charles de Gaulle, for those who risked their lives to liberate France from Nazi occupation, Emmanuel Macron said there would be a national ceremony to honor his memory.
When France was in danger, he and his comrades took every risk so that France would remain France. We owe them our freedom and our honor, Macron wrote in a tweet.
Cordier was the secretary of the French resistance leader Jean Moulin, who was assassinated by the Gestapo in 1943.
Born into a wealthy family in Bordeaux, Cordier admitted that he was a monarchist and with his harsh anti-Semitic words before the war when he was a member of the ultra-nationalist Franaise movement.
After the German occupation in 1940, Cordier was horrified when he heard the address on the radio from Marshal Philippe Ptain, the leader of the collaborationist Vichy government, calling on the French army to surrender, a decision he considered a shameful betrayal.
I ran upstairs and jumped on my bed and I cried. But then half an hour must have passed, I suddenly withdrew and said to myself: But no, that’s ridiculous. He (Ptain) is just an old stupid fool! We have to do something, he later recalled.
He and 16 companions immediately set sail aboard a ship from Bayonne to join De Gaulle in London, landing at Falmouth seven days later. Cordier underwent military training in the UK and then transferred to the Free French intelligence service, learning sabotage, radio broadcasting and parachuting.
He parachuted into France in 1942, at the age of 22, codenamed Bip W, and was ordered to make contact in Lyon with a man known only as Rex. The man he contacted was, in fact, Moulin, who had organized and unified the Conseil National de la Rsistance (National Council of Resistance).
For a year he was Moulins right-wing man, compiling his correspondence and making connections with other resistance leaders. Moulin died after being arrested by the Gestapo in July 1943 after being betrayed by the Nazis and tortured. He died aboard a train bound for Germany.
Cordier continued to gather and organize resistance fighters as he avoided the Germans themselves, eventually fleeing the Pyrenees where he was arrested and interned before being transferred to London in May 1944.
After the war, Cordier opened a gallery in Paris described by newspapers at the time as the most original in the French capital for promoting lesser-known contemporary artists.
He also wrote a bestselling and award-winning novel, Alias Caracalla, based on his war experiences with Moulin. His death leaves only one surviving member of the 1,038 Liberation Friends, Hubert Germain, who is also 100 years old.
In 2018, Cordier was awarded the Grand Croix of Lgion dhonneur, the highest decoration of the French state. While embellishing it, Macron told Cordier: To be face to face with you means to find yourself immediately and compellingly face to face with history.
Cordier, who was living in Cannes on the French Riviera at the time of his death, told Le Monde in 2018: I am an elderly but very, very happy old man and described his experience as not a life but a life of successive that were so different from each other.
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