lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Sep 11 07:20:04 MDT 2002
NY Times, Sept. 11, 2002
Henri Rol-Tanguy, French Resistance Figure, Dies at 94
By ALAN RIDING
PARIS, Sept. 10 Henri Rol-Tanguy, one of France's most decorated
Resistance heroes, who organized the popular uprising against the German
occupation of Paris and, a few days later, joined the Gaullist general,
Philippe Leclerc, in taking the surrender of German forces stationed here,
died Sunday. He was 94.
Mr. Rol-Tanguy, a lifelong Communist, emerged as the leader of the
Communist-led Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, or Snipers and Partisans, in the
Paris region after other Resistance figures had been arrested and shot.
Working from a base in the catacombs of Paris, he called on Parisians to
take up arms against the occupiers one week before the liberation of Paris,
on Aug. 25, 1944.
President Jacques Chirac, who will lead a homage to Mr. Rol-Tanguy at the
Invalides on Thursday, described him as "one of the greatest figures of the
Mr. Chirac added: "An actor and a witness in unforgettable events has died.
But his example will live on an example of will, courage, patriotism and
love of liberty and the republic."
Born as Henri Tanguy in Morlaix, Britanny, on June 12, 1908, he left school
at 14 to become a metallurgical worker outside Paris. In 1925, still only
17, he joined the Communist Party, an affiliation that in 1936 led him to
be named secretary of the Union of Metallurgical Workers of the Paris
region. That same year, with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he
organized support for the Republican side fighting Franco's rightist rebellion.
In 1937, Mr. Rol-Tanguy joined the International Brigades fighting with the
Republicans in Spain and, the following year, was wounded in battle.
Coincidentally, a close friend, Théo Rol, was killed in combat. Two years
later, after serving briefly in the French army and escaping detention when
Germany occupied France in May 1940, Mr. Rol-Tanguy took his friend's name
as his nom de guerre.
In 1939, he married Cécile Le Bihan, who joined him in the Resistance
activities that followed. Mr. Rol-Tanguy is survived by his wife and their
four children, Hélène, Jean, Claire and Francis.
From October 1940 to August 1941, he and other Communist leaders helped
organize resistance to the occupation in the Paris region. He was then
assigned to build the underground in the Anjou area, before being recalled
to Paris in 1943. He was named first captain and then colonel of the Forces
Françaises de l'Interieur, the French Forces of the Interior, which had a
tense relationship with de Gaulle's London-based Free French Forces.
After the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, the Resistance began preparing
for the liberation of Paris, with Mr. Rol-Tanguy head of the Paris
underground. As Allied forces approached Paris, he ordered a popular
uprising. Allied forces then assigned Leclerc to lead French troops into
Paris. But Mr. Rol-Tanguy stood alongside him when the German governor of
Paris, Dietrich von Choltitz, surrendered at the Montparnasse railroad
station on Aug. 25, 1944.
A few months after the liberation of Paris, Mr. Rol-Tanguy joined the
French army with the rank of colonel and took part in the final campaigns
of World War II. He remained in the army after the war, but his continuing
membership of the Communist Party proved a complication during the cold war
and, in 1962, he was retired from the armed forces.
From 1964 to 1987, he was a member of the central committee of the French
Communist Party. He wrote numerous books about the liberation, including
"The French Communist Party in the Resistance" (1967) and "The Truth About
the Liberation of Paris" (1971). Mr. Rol-Tanguy received most of France's
medals of valor, including the Croix de Guerre and the Grand-Croix de la
Légion de l'Honneur.
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