France’s most prominent female resistance fighter, Cécile Rol-Tanguy, has died at the age of 101 years old
FRENCH Resistance heroine, who helped lead an uprising against the German occupation of Paris, died on May 8 at her home in Monteaux. She was 101 years old.
Ms Rol-Tanguy joined the Resistance at age 21 after the Nazis moved into Paris.
She acted as a clandestine liaison officer for her husband, Henri Rol-Tanguy, a prominent Communist and a colonel of the Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur, who worked alongside Gen Charles de Gaulle’s London-based Free French Forces.
In August 1944, hidden in the catacombs of Paris, she helped her husband organise the uprising. On Aug. 19, she put up posters calling for immediate revolt against Hitler’s occupying forces: “France is calling you! To arms, citizens! To arms!”
A week later, Paris was liberated and General de Gaulle drove triumphantly down the Champs-Élysées. Ms Rol-Tanguy was the only woman he invited to a reunion to thank the Resistance, held on Aug 26 in Paris’s City Hall.
Marguerite Marie-Cecile Le Bihan was born on April 10, 1919, in Royan, a resort on the French Atlantic coast. Her parents moved to a Paris suburb when she was a year old.
She left school at 16 and joined Jeunes Filles de France, a Communist Party organisation that fought for gender equality.
That same year she started doing secretarial work for the Paris metallurgical workers union. There she met Mr Rol-Tanguy, a foundry worker and union official.
When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Mr Rol-Tanguy fought alongside the Spanish Republicans against Franco’s right-wing rebellion.
She is survived by their four children, Hélène, Jean, Claire and Francis, and a number of grandchildren. Mr Rol-Tanguy died in 2002.
Ms Rol-Tanguy was emblematic of the role women played in the Resistance.
In 2014, she agreed to accept the medal recognising her as a grand officer of the Legion of Honour, the highest distinction in France, in the name of all women Resistance fighters.