French WWII resistance hero Raymond Aubrac dies aged 97


Raymond Aubrac spoke to the BBC's Hugh Schofield in January this year

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One of the leading figures of the French resistance against the Nazis, Raymond Aubrac, has died aged 97, his family says.

His daughter said he had died at Val de Grace military hospital in Paris on Tuesday evening.

Raymond Aubrac and his late wife Lucie became important members of Jean Moulin's underground Resistance movement in 1942.

Aubrac was arrested in June 1943 with Moulin, who died after torture.

In a recent BBC interview, he described how their arrests by the Gestapo at a doctor's surgery in the suburb of Caluire in Lyon had come as "a shock but not a surprise".

Jean Moulin, who had been sent by Gen Charles de Gaulle to organise the underground resistance to Nazi occupation, was tortured, taken to Paris and later died on a train to Berlin.

Start Quote

His escape, thanks to the courage of his wife Lucie Aubrac, has entered into the legend of Resistance history”

End Quote Nicolas Sarkozy French President

But Raymond Aubrac escaped when a group of fighters including his wife attacked a lorry moving him and other members of the Resistance from jail in Lyon.

Born as Raymond Samuel in 1914, Aubrac was Jewish.

He studied engineering and married Lucie Bernard after war broke out. After his escape from jail, the couple reached London in February 1944.

Their story and their Resistance work with Jean Moulin became legendary in France and the couple gave a number of talks to schools and colleges about their experience.

After France was liberated, Aubrac was given the task of supervising reconstruction efforts in the port city of Marseille. From 1964-75 he served as a director at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Raymond Aubrac (C) with Lucie and President Chirac in March 2000 Raymond and Lucie Aubrac with President Chirac (R) in March 2000

He twice gave evidence after the war against Rene Hardy, a fellow Resistance member who was accused of betraying his colleagues but was later acquitted.

In 2010, he travelled to London with President Nicolas Sarkozy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Gen de Gaulle's appeal to the French people after the country had fallen to the Nazis.

Raymond Aubrac remained politically active until he died and gave his backing to Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande.

In tribute, President Sarkozy described him as an "heroic figure" whose "escape, thanks to the courage of his wife Lucie Aubrac, has entered into the legend of Resistance history".

Centrist presidential candidate Francois Bayrou praised him as a "major emblematic figure".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    A great individual and a ferociously energetic man. France has lost a remarkable son.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.


    Maybe "The French" simply don't like you. I don't think you should assume they dislike us too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    @79. The-Smythe
    But that's not what you said before. You were implying that the French were just purposefully unfriendly/ungrateful to the British. Of course there are some rude grumpy people who live in Paris. But don't tell me London or any other large cities are any different. The typical cliche in France being that even Parisians hate Parisians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    64. Sybarite

    Does your ego know no boundaries? This HYS is not about you or your opinions or how well they may or may not be scored.

    It is about the passing of a hero, for the likes of whom we should all gives thanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    @72 The-Smythe
    As someone who used to spend a lot of time in France and lived with a French girl for a number of years, I can assure you the French don't hate us, they just think we're a little bit strange, not surprising really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I can only speak of my own experiences, especially in Paris, but there seems to be an underlying resentment towards us even if you try to speak French, not true of all French people I'm sure. I've done battlefield tours and the Belgians are 10 times more friendly. The war memorials are magnificent but built by the countries they represent and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    73. Little_Old_Me
    . . .this man and others like Violet Szabo, who along with several of her female colleagues, was captured tortured, interned in Ravensbruck concentration camp and then executed whilst kneeling with a shot to the back of the head, all before her 24th birthday, deserve rather more respect than your very dismissive post

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    72. The_Smythe
    In addition to Mr Furniture;s comments I find your "that's gratitude" comment rather odd as you base it on your own opinion that the Germans think more os us than the French do. What research did you do into this, or did you base it on the "everyone knows" principle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    @ 72. The_Smythe
    Sigh... This annoys me so much. Unlike your paranoid mind or tabloid press would have you believe, the French don't dislike the British at all. Having lived in France for over 20 years, let me assure you the whole Britain vs France rivalry doesn't extend much further than in sports. They also have gigantic memorials for British, American and Canadian Soldiers...

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I say this with an abiding respect for the man & his actions, but doesn't he remind you of 'It is I, Leclerc" from Allo Allo?

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    55.coastwalker - "Its hard to believe that today's entitlement generation would show the bravery and selflessness that people like this demonstrated only a few short years ago."

    Oh do grow up - which generations are currently fighting/have recently been fighting in Afghaistan, Iraq, Libya, the Falklands etc.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Germany invaded France on 10 May 1940, by 14 June 1940 Paris had fallen and the French surrendered on 22 June signing an armistice. Hardly their finest hour so nice to know there were some like this gentleman trying to fight back instead of just giving up or collaborating like the Vichy. Funny how now the Germans like the Brits a lot more than the French do. That's gratitude!

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    A true hero my thoughts are with his family at this moment VIVE LA FRANCE

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    A genuine hero - a rare thing these days.

    His example shone a light on the murky moral mess that was Vichy-era France, when so many of his countrymen supported Petain.

    His death diminishes France a little bit more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    The views below seem to sum up what is suffocating the news of late – terrorism. Can we stop trying to relate every article or story back to some hidden agenda. The guy was a true hero who fought against tyranny and oppression and please don’t try to dilute what this man did by uttering the cheap words by the words such as ‘one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter’…its boring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Now that was a real hero.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    66.Mike Solomons - "I seem to have upset some people with my post at No. 42 regarding the financial power of Germany.

    Don't shoot the messenger......"

    Ot's not so much what you said but the way you said it, so yes, do shoot the messanger.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    I seem to have upset some people with my post at No. 42 regarding the financial power of Germany.

    Don't shoot the messenger.

    Germany is becoming very powerful and has bullied Greece and put pressure on others. Today's heroes will not be like M. Aubrac, they will be politicians and bankers, protecting our country from financial pressures.

    I just hope they will be as successful as M. Aubrac

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Not much to say than my condolences to his Family, and to France with the loss of a true Frenchman!


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