France pays tribute to the hero of the Resistance of World War II Daniel Cordier

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                La France rend hommage jeudi à l'un des derniers Compagnons de la Libération, l'ordre de héros de la résistance le plus distingué décoré par le général Charles de Gaulle.  Daniel Cordier, qui a été secrétaire de l'emblématique chef de la résistance française Jean Moulin pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, est décédé la semaine dernière à l'âge de 100 ans.
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                                    <p>Né à Bordeaux en 1920, Cordier s'investit très tôt dans la politique avec le mouvement d'extrême droite Action Française.  Admirateur de l'ultra-nationaliste français Charles Maurras, le jeune Cordier était plongé dans des idées monarchistes, nationalistes et antisémites.  En juin 1940, lorsque l'armée française fut balayée par la Wehrmacht nazie, Cordier n'avait pas encore 20 ans. Il fut outré lorsque le maréchal Philippe Pétain appela à l'armistice avec l'Allemagne et l'adolescent décida de poursuivre le combat.

“I ran to my room because I didn’t want my parents to see me cry. I threw myself on my bed and sobbed because, for me, France could not be beaten, ”he told FRANCE 24 in December. Interview from 2017. “After these tears, I decided to do something, but I didn’t know what yet. With about fifteen volunteers, he left from Bayonne, on the Atlantic coast, first for North Africa. But the ship Cordier and his comrades boarded would eventually take them to England.

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Daniel Cordier in England in July 1940. © Museum of the Order of the Liberation
    </div>Cordier rejoint les premières Forces françaises libres, organisées par De Gaulle depuis son exil en Grande-Bretagne.  «Ce que vous devez comprendre, c'est que je suis l'enfant d'anciens combattants de la Première Guerre mondiale. Au fond, ce que nous voulions, c'était faire ce que nos parents avaient fait, ni plus ni moins», expliquait-il.

‘Devotion and courage’

After training in an infantry battalion, Cordier was assigned to the Central Bureau of Intelligence and Operations (BCRA), the secret service branch of the Free French Forces. In July 1942, he was parachuted near Montlucon in central France. A few days later, he met Jean Moulin, codenamed “Rex”, who represented De Gaulle and was a delegate of the French National Committee, the French government in exile. Moulin hired Cordier to help establish his office in Lyon.

After the arrest in June 1943 of the “boss” – as Cordier called Moulin – in Caluire near Lyon, Cordier continued his mission. Pursued by the Gestapo, Cordier fled through the Pyrenees. Interned in Spain, he returned to England at the end of May 1944. There he was appointed to lead the section responsible for dropping the BCRA agents.

Cordier received the Medal of the Cross of the Liberation on November 20, 1944 for having demonstrated “qualities of dedication and unparalleled courage”. He was credited with “tireless work throughout his long mission and never ceasing to be distinguished by his tenacious energy, his altruism, his spirit of sacrifice and his coolness”.

In Cordier’s old age, this distinction had special significance for the Resistance veteran. It was the only medal he wore each year on June 18 to commemorate de Gaulle’s 1940 appeal to his compatriots to resist German occupation, broadcast by London radio. “The only thing that was an absolute reward was being a Companion of the Liberation,” Cordier liked to say.

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The decree awarding the Cross of Liberation to Daniel Cordier.
The decree awarding the Cross of Liberation to Daniel Cordier. © Museum of the Order of the Liberation
    </div><strong>'La liberté est le soleil de la vie'</strong>

Cordier gave up his early far-right ideas – later writing about his shock and “unbearable shame” during the war upon seeing an old man and child in Paris adorned with the yellow stars that labeled them Jews – and became a socialist humanist.

After the war, Cordier devoted his life to his painting and started collecting contemporary art. In the early 1980s, he became a historian to defend the memory of Jean Moulin. In 2009, he published an autobiographical story entitled “Alias ​​Caracalla” which he considered as a tribute “to all the dead”.

Regularly called upon to participate in conferences or meet schoolchildren, Cordier still does not consider himself a role model. “I did what I believed in. I fought throughout the four and a half year war. I did everything I was asked to do, ”he said with humility.

Seventy-five years after the end of World War II, Cordier would say that “freedom is the sun of life”. “We must remain free throughout our existence. No one can afford to change our lives, to impose another vision, ”he said. “We fought for freedom for almost five years. If I had to start over, I would do it again immediately. This is the one aspect of my life that I’m sure I would do again right away.

A remaining “liberation companion”

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute shortly after news of Cordier’s death announced, announcing plans for Thursday’s tribute ceremony. “Daniel Cordier, member of the Resistance, secretary of Jean Moulin, has died. When France was in peril, he and his companions took all the risks so that France remained France. We owe them our freedom and our honor. We will pay them a national tribute, ”Macron wrote on Twitter.

After the death of Pierre Simonet on November 5 and Cordier’s death on November 20, there is only one living companion left of the Liberation – and Hubert Germain is also 100 years old. Some 1,038 people, including six women, obtained the title, as did 18 military units and the five French municipalities of Nantes, Grenoble, Paris, Ile de Sein and Vassieux-en-Vercors, the latter being the site of a brutally suppressed Resistance uprising. by the Nazis.

It was decided that the last of the “companions” to die would be buried at Mont Valérien, the main place of execution of resistance fighters and hostages by the Germans during World War II. The site, just west of Paris, houses the Combatant France Memorial, inaugurated by De Gaulle in 1960.

This article has been translated from the original into French.

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