Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Arsène Tchakarian, Last Survivor of Resistance Group Manouchian (l’Affiche Rouge) Dies at 101.

leave a comment »

Affiche Rouge

“L’affiche Rouge.”

L’ancien résistant Arsène Tchakarian, le dernier survivant du groupe Manouchian, est mort

Le Monde

Avec la mort d’Arsène Tchakarian le samedi 4 août à l’âge de 101 ans, disparaît le dernier survivant du groupe Missak Manouchian, dont 22 membres furent exécutés par les nazis le 21 février 1944 au Mont-Valérien. Après le décès d’Henri Karayan, le 2 novembre 2011, à Paris, à l’âge de 90 ans, celui d’Arsène Tchakarian renvoie la mémoire et la relation précise de cet épisode, à la fois magnifié et propice à certaines polémiques, à la seule responsabilité des historiens.

The report below appears via Deutsche Welle.

The last survivor of a famous group of immigrant workers that fought against the Nazi occupation of France during World War II died on Saturday at the age of 101, French media reported.

Arsene Tchakarian, a tailor of Armenian origin, passed away at a hospital near his home in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine, where he had lived since 1950.

He had dedicated his life to fighting “facism,” French paper Le Figaro reported.

After fighting in the legendary resistance group Manouchian, Tchakarian’s historical and memorial tasks occupied him for the rest of his long life. He turned his home in an archival center, spoke at colleges and schools about the Nazi occupation of France, and campaigned for the recognition of the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians as a genocide.

“I’m sort of the last of the Mohicans, as they say,” Tchakarian said, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.

..

By 1942 he had joined the Manouchians, a small resistance group made up of foreigners and named after its leader, the Armenian poet and communist Missak Manouchian.

“They were immigrants who had come from countries that were becoming fascist, like Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria,” Tchakarian said, according to the German News Agency. “From all those countries, there were immigrants who were kind of hunted out.”

The Manouchian group carried out an intense campaign of resistance activities against the Nazi German occupation of France that included attacks and acts of sabotage such as assassinations and train derailments.

In 1944, 23 members of the group were rounded up and sentenced to death by a German martial court in a highly publicized trial.

The ‘Affiche Rouge’ poster campaign aimed at turning public sentiment against the resistance fighters of the Manouchian group

After the execution of Tchakarian’s fellow group members, Nazi German authorities and French officials in the collaborationist Vichy government hung up infamous red posters, known as the “Affiche Rouge,” denouncing the members of the Manouchian group as “the army of crime” in an attempt to sway public opinion against the resistance fighters.

Tchakarian managed to escape to Bordeaux and was taken into hiding by fellow resistance members. He remained active in the resistance until the war’s end.

After the war, he turned his focus to history, writing multiple memoirs, and fighting for recognition of the Armenian genocide.

DW.

There is a comprehensive Wikipedia entry in English on L’Affice Rouge.

In mid-November 1943, the French police arrested 23 members of the Communist Francs-Tireurs et Partisans de la Main d’Oeuvre Immigrée (FTP-MOI), who were part of the French Resistance.[1] They were called the “Manouchian Group” after the commander, Missak Manouchian. The group was part of a network of about 100 fighters, who committed nearly all acts of armed resistance in the Paris metropolitan region between March and November 1943.[2]

Its membership included 22 men: eight Poles, five Italians, three Hungarians, two Armenians, a Spaniard, and three French; and one woman, who was Romanian. Eleven were also Jewish.[3]

After having been tortured and interrogated for three months, the 23 were tried by a German military court. In an effort to discredit the Resistance, the authorities invited French celebrities (from the world of the cinema and other arts) to attend the trial and encouraged the media to give it the widest coverage possible. All but one of the Manouchian Group’s members were executed before a firing squad in Fort Mont-Valérien on February 21, 1944. Olga Bancic, who had served the group as a messenger, was taken to Stuttgart, where she was beheaded with an axe on May 10, 1944.

In the spring of 1944, the Vichy authorities launched a propaganda campaign, designed to discredit the Manouchian Group and defuse public anger over their execution. They created a poster, which became known as Affiche Rouge, due to its red background. It featured ten men of the group, with nationality, surnames, photos and descriptions of their crimes. The Germans distributed an estimated 15,000 copies of the poster.[4] Along with these posters, the Germans handed out flyers that claimed the Resistance was headed by foreigners, Jews, unemployed people and criminals; the campaign characterized the Resistance as a “foreigners’ conspiracy against French life and the sovereignty of France”:

Si des Français pillent, volent, sabotent et tuent…

Ce sont toujours des étrangers qui les commandent. Ce sont toujours des chômeurs et des criminels professionnels qui exécutent. Ce sont toujours des juifs qui les inspirent. C’est l’armée du crime contre la France.

Le banditisme n’est pas l’expression du Patriotisme blessé, c’est le complot étranger contre la vie des Français et contre la souveraineté de la France.”[5]

Although the poster attempted to depict the group as “terrorists”, the campaign seems to have had the effect of highlighting the feats of people whom the general public saw as freedom fighters.[5] Legend has it that supporters scribbled the words MORTS POUR LA FRANCE (They died for France – the phrase used on official monuments to soldiers of France who died in combat) and put flowers beneath some of the posters.

In 1975, Philippe Ganier Raymond claimed that there was no historical record of such activity.[6] More recent research has in fact confirmed that such additions occurred.[5]

The story was put into verse by Aragon which is sung by  Léo Ferré.

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2018 at 11:19 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: