One of the last remaining French Resistance heroes in France, Daniel Cordier, died at the age of 100.
One of the two left Companions of Liberation, An honor bestowed by the French wartime leader in exile, Charles de Gaulle, to those who risked their lives to liberate France from Nazi occupation, Emmanuel Macron declared that there would be a national ceremony to honor his memory.
“When France was in danger, he and his colleagues took all the risks to keep France being France. We owe them our freedom and our honor, ”Macron wrote in a tweet.
Cordier was secretary to the great leader of the French resistance, Jean Moulin, who was assassinated by the Gestapo in 1943.
Born into a wealthy family in Bordeaux, Cordier admitted he was a royalist and, in his own words, “fiercely anti-Semitic” before the war when he was a member of the ultra-nationalist Action Française.
After the German invasion in 1940, Cordier was dismayed to hear the radio address of Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of the collaborationist Vichy government, in which he called on the French army to surrender, a decision he considered a shameful betrayal.
“I ran upstairs, threw myself on my bed and cried. But then it must have been half an hour later, all of a sudden I got up and said, ‘But no, this is ridiculous. He (Pétain) is just an old fool! We have to do something, ”he later recalled.
He and 16 friends immediately set out on board a ship from Bayonne to join de Gaulle in London, landing at Falmouth seven days later. Cordier underwent military training in the United Kingdom and was later transferred to the secret intelligence service of the Free French, learning sabotage, radio broadcasting and parachuting.
He was parachuted into France in 1942, at age 22, under the code name 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 Résistance.
For a year he was Moulin’s right-hand man, drafting his correspondence and liaising with other resistance leaders. Moulin died after being arrested by the Gestapo in July 1943, after being betrayed and tortured before the Nazis. He died aboard a train to Germany.
Cordier continued to meet and organize Resistance fighters while eluding the Germans themselves, eventually fleeing over 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 of the time as the “most original” in the French capital for its promotion of previously little-known contemporary artists.
He also wrote a successful and award-winning novel, Alias Caracalla, based on his wartime experiences with Moulin. His death leaves only one surviving member of the 1,038 Companions of Liberation, Hubert Germain, who is also 100 years old.
In 2018, Cordier received the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur, the highest decoration of the French state. While awarding him, Macron told Cordier: “To be face to face with you is to find oneself immediately and convincingly 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 a very, very happy old man,” describing his experience not as a life but as a “succession.” lives so different from each other ”.
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