Macron sheds tears for French Resistance hero on Armistice Day
French President Emmanuel Macron pays tribute to the French flag drapped coffin of Hubert Germain - the last surviving Liberation companion - during a burial ceremony in the crypt of the French resistance memorial of the Mont Valerien in Suresnes, near Paris, on November 11, 2021. (Christophe PETIT TESSON / POOL / AFP)
(AFP) - President Emmanuel Macron shed tears as he paid a final homage to Hubert Germain, the last French Resistance hero recognised by Charles de Gaulle from World War II who died last month.
Macron led a special Armistice Day ceremony for Germain in central Paris before his body was interred in France's war memorial at Mont-Valerien outside the French capital.
Germain, the last surviving Resistance fighter honoured by late Free France leader de Gaulle as a Companion of the Liberation, died aged 101 in October.
His coffin draped in the French flag was carried up the Champs-Elysees on an armoured vehicle to the Arc de Triomphe, where Macron and visiting American Vice President Kamala Harris paid their respects.
"Everyone knew that the day would come when we would have to say farewell to the last Companion. That day has come," said Macron, asking: "Would we be here without Germain?"
Germain, the son of a general in France's colonial army, was in his late teens when he fled to Britain after France's capitulation where he joined up with de Gaulle who was organising resistance to the German occupation.
He went on to fight in key battles at Bir-Hakeim in Libya, at El Alamein in Egypt and in Tunisia, as well as in the invasion of German-occupied France in 1944 which liberated the country.
The Paris-born fighter was one of 1,038 people decorated with the Order of the Liberation for their heroism by de Gaulle, who would go on to become president of France and is the founder of the current constitution.
- Tears and symbolism -
Germain, who became an MP and minister, was buried in a special crypt reserved for Resistance fighters at Mont Valerien, a former fortress west of Paris where German troops used to execute opponents.
Standing alone as a chorus sang the Marseillaise and the coffin was brought towards him, Macron could be seen with his eyes full of tears which he dabbed with a white tissue.
He then laid a Cross of Lorraine, the symbol of the resistance, fashioned out of wood from Notre-Dame cathedral on his coffin, in accordance with Germain's wishes.
France holds a ceremony ever year at the Arc de Triomphe on Armistice Day, a public holiday to mark the armistice signed to end World War I.
Harris' presence at the event is seen as a symbol of the historic strength of France-US relations after a bruising row caused by a cancelled submarine contract.
© Agence France-Presse