Hubert Germain, last of the elite group of decorated French fighters, dies at 101

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The French president’s office announced the death in a statement Tuesday, saying Germain “embodied a century of freedom”. He did not disclose details of his death

File photo of Hubert Germain, a French resistance fighter from World War II, attending a funeral ceremony for Edgard Tupet-Thome, at the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris. PA

Paris: Hubert Germain, the last of an elite group of decorated French fighters who helped liberate France from Nazi control during World War II, has died. He was 101 years old.

The French president’s office announced the death in a statement Tuesday, saying Germain “embodied a century of freedom”. He did not disclose the details of his death.

Born in Paris on August 6, 1920, Germain took his entrance exam to the École navale de France in June 1940, just after the surrender of the French state to the Nazis.

“By getting up from his examination table, he preferred to hand over a white paper rather than to give a blank check to France which had gone to bed, which had yielded to resignation and renunciation”, indicated the presidency. Emmanuel Macron in a press release.

Just before his 20th birthday, Germain fled to London with a ship carrying Polish troops to join the Free French force of General Charles de Gaulle. Wounded in Italy during the war, Germain also fought in Egypt, Libya and present-day Syria, and took part in the Allied “Landing of the South” on the coast of Provence in 1944.

He was decorated by de Gaulle with the esteemed Order of the Liberation, an honor bestowed on 1,038 people celebrated as “Companions of the Liberation”. Germain was their last surviving member, according to the Museum of the Order of the Liberation.

“With the departure of the last representative of this twentieth century chivalry, a page in our history is turning,” Defense Minister Florence Parly said on Tuesday.

Other scattered members of the French anti-Nazi forces still survive, although their numbers are rapidly declining.

After the war, Germain was mayor, legislator and government minister, and participated in war commemorations until he was at least 99 years old, dressed in his uniform weighed down with medals.

A commemorative ceremony took place on Friday at the Invalides monument in Paris. Germain will be buried at the Mont-Valérien memorial west of Paris on November 11, when France celebrates Armistice Day.


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