France honors four with burial in Pantheon | News | DW | 28.05.2015
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France honors four with burial in Pantheon

France honored four people who resisted the Nazis during World War II by inducting them into Paris' Pantheon mausoleum, a final resting place for heroes of the French Republic.

In his speech at the Pantheon where four heroes of the reistance were buried, President Francois Hollande linked the heroes of World War II to the Paris attacks in January.

"The French stood up on January 11 because they are never afraid of defending freedom," Hollande said in a reference to the more than a million people who gathered in the streets of Paris and other French cities following the attacks on the satire newspaper Charlie Hebdo. "Every generation has a duty to remain vigilant, a duty to resist."

Four coffins which represent the two women and two men - Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Germaine Tillion, Pierre Brossolette and Jean Zay were to be interred on Thursday in the Pantheon. They had been escorted through Paris streets on Tuesday for public viewing and the ceremony on Wednesday.

Though the names were designated last year, the ceremony seeks to emphasize France's fundamental values of liberty, equality and fraternity.

The women's induction is symbolic as their coffins only contain soil from their gravesites, because their families didn't want the bodies exhumed. However, their inclusion is meant to send a message that women, too, made French history.

Special lives, big discrepancy

There has only ever been one woman who has been honored with a spot in the Pantheon: Marie Curie, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist. Another woman was buried there, Sophie Berthelot, but only because she was the wife Marcellin Berthelot, a politician.

Constance Riviere, the French president's adviser on the matter said, Hollande had chosen to honor people who had "exemplary lives,"

"They all stood up extremely young (against the Nazis)... they all represent France's pride."

President Hollande repeatedly invoked the legacy of the four fighters to call for a defense of diversity. "Do not bend. Do not fall back. That is the unquenchable spirit of the Resistance."

av/rc (AP, DPA)

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