Pierre Brossolette

My mission tonight is to pay homage to those who enabled France to have a present and a future, the dead of Fighting France.

Of all the countless dead in our long and glorious history, they more than the rest will always embody the spirit of pure sacrifice… Stowaways on the last ships that left downtrodden France, humble fishermen braving English Channel storms on boats, sailors and colonials escaping from torpedoed convoys, daredevils who trudged across the Pyrenees, prisoners who broke out of the enemy’s camps, inmates who escaped from the jails of treason…

And over there, in the night of martyrdom and captivity, the pitiful voices answering them, the voices of those who died underground fighting for France, a ceaselessly decimated elite that is being ceaselessly reborn, the members of our networks and groups, hostages massacred in Paris and Châteaubriant, shot as their lips, which remained sealed under torture, opened to cry out ‘Long live France’ at the moment of execution.

They do not ask each other what they were yesterday. Under the Cross of Lorraine, the socialist of yesterday does not ask the comrade who falls if he was a conservative. In the homeland’s fraternal soil, Estiennes d’Orves and Péri do not ask each other if yesterday one was a Royalist and the other a Communist. Companions of the same Liberation, Father Savey does not ask Lieutenant Dreyfus which God his forefathers prayed to. From the Arctic gales to the desert winds, from the ossuaries of France to the cemeteries of the sands, they profess a single faith, their faith in a France that is torn but unanimous.

Colonels at 30, captains at 20, heroes at 18, Fighting France has been a long dialogue between youth and life. The dead of Fighting France have erased the wrinkles that lined the homeland’s face; wiped away the tears of helplessness she shed; redeemed the faults whose weight bowed her down. On this anniversary of the day General de Gaulle summoned them to the sacred banquet of death, they ask us not to feel sorry for them, but to continue. What they expect from us is not grief, but an oath. Not sobs, but action.

“Homage to the dead of Fighting France”, speech delivered at Albert Hall (London), 18 June 1943