They were 177 young men volunteering to free France alongside the allied troops on D-Day. In a speech to mark the 1945 Allied victory on Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945, President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to the Kieffer Commando. (Story: FR3)
President Nicolas Sarkozy, leading ceremonies Thursday to mark the 1945 Allied victory over Nazi Germany, said the "true" wartime France was that of resistance and not collaboration.
"We are not celebrating a military victory, we are above all celebrating a moral victory," he said at the commemoration held on one of the D-Day landing beaches near the northern town of Ouistreham.
The May 8 commemorations are usually held in Paris, but Sarkozy chose to move this year's event to Ouistreham, near where a small French commando force led by Commandant Philippe Kieffer landed in June 1944 on a beach codenamed Sword Beach.
"No fault, no crime should be forgotten, but France ... the France which we can teach to our children to be proud of, the true France was not that of Vichy (the French regime which collaborated with the occupying Nazis) ... it had the voice of General de Gaulle," he said in a speech.
"The true France, the eternal France, it had the courage of Jean Moulin ... Commandant Kieffer" and many other wartime resistance leaders, he told assembled war veterans, government ministers and ambassadors of Allied nations.
Sarkozy used the occasion to announce the creation of a new French elite marine force to be called the Kieffer Force.
Date created : 2008-05-08