France's last surviving WWII Resistance hero dies aged 101: minister

·2-min read
Germain took part in key battles in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia (AFP/CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)

The last survivor out of over 1,000 people who were awarded the highest bravery order by Charles de Gaulle for their role in French Resistance forces during World War II has died aged 101, France's defence minister announced on Tuesday.

"I want to inform you that Hubert Germain, the last surviving member of the Order of the Liberation, has died," Florence Parly told French lawmakers.

"It's an important moment in our history," she added.

Germain was among 1,038 decorated with the Order of the Liberation for their heroism by Resistance leader and later president de Gaulle.

He decided to join the resistance as he was shocked by French collaborationist leader Philippe Petain's call to lay down arms against the Germans.

As a member of the French Free Forces and the Foreign Legion, Germain took part in key battles at Bir-Hakeim in Libya, El Alamein in Egypt, and in Tunisia.

He then participated in the decisive French-led assault on Mediterranean beaches in August 1944, setting foot on home soil for the first time in years.

He fought for the liberation of the southern city of Toulon, the Rhone Valley and Lyon in central France, moving to the Vosges mountains and Alsace in the east, and ended the war in the southern Alps.

Out of the over 1,000 Resistance heroes, a third died in combat and 80 percent of the survivors were wounded in action.

Of the last three survivors, Edgard Tupet-Thome died aged 100 in September 2020 and Daniel Cordier died, also aged 100, in November that year.

In his last public appearance, Germain met President Emmanuel Macron in June this year as they marked de Gaulle's historic call to defy France's Nazi occupiers despite the country's capitulation.

Germain was helped from his wheelchair to accept a red sash from Macron, who embraced his cheeks, and then saluted the president before putting on his military cap.

"Eighty-one years on, General de Gaulle's call still resonates. The flame of the resistance will not be extinguished," Macron wrote on Twitter after that ceremony.

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