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France names Resistance fighters, two women, to Pantheon

AFP

French President Francois Hollande pays his respects to Resistance fighters during a ceremony at the Mont Valerien memorial in Suresnes, France, on February 21, 2014French President Francois Hollande pays his respects to Resistance fighters during a ceremony at the Mont Valerien memorial in Suresnes, France, on February 21, 2014

French President Francois Hollande pays his respects to Resistance fighters during a ceremony at the Mont Valerien memorial in Suresnes, France, on February 21, 2014French President Francois Hollande pays his respects to Resistance fighters during a ceremony at the Mont Valerien memorial in Suresnes, France, on February 21, 2014

French President Francois Hollande on Friday ordered the remains of four Resistance fighters moved to the Pantheon, including those of two women, after outcries over the domination of men at the monument.

Hollande said the remains of the two women, Germaine Tillion and Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz, and two men, Pierre Brossolette and Jean Zay, would be transferred to the mausoleum for distinguished French figures in May 2015.

The four "embodied the values of France when it was on its knees," Hollande said at a ceremony at the Mont-Valerien Resistance memorial outside Paris.

"I wanted for the spirit of the Resistance to be hailed," Hollande said, describing the four as "examples for the nation".

He said he hoped Tillion and de Gaulle-Anthonioz would represent the contributions of all women "who were part of the army of shadows" of the Resistance to Nazi occupation.

Of the some 70 people interred at the neo-Classical mausoleum in Paris only one is a woman there for her own achievements -- Nobel prize-winning scientist Marie Curie.

The only other woman is Sophie Berthelot, the wife of chemist Marcellin Berthelot.

Pressure had been building on Hollande to start addressing the imbalance, with feminist groups pushing to have more women named to the Pantheon and holding protests in front of its massive portico.

Tillion, an ethnologist who died in 2008 aged 100, was a founding member of a famed Resistance cell of intellectuals and academics.

She was sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp for women, escaped and eventually wrote an account of her time there.

De Gaulle-Anthonioz, a niece of General Charles de Gaulle, was another Resistance member who was sent to Ravensbruck and also wrote a memoir of that time.

She later headed up ATD-Quart Monde, a prominent French rights and anti-poverty group, and died in 2002 aged 81.

Brossolette was a journalist and key Resistance intelligence organiser, while Jean Zay was an education and arts minister assassinated by pro-Vichy militia.

In a report last year, France's Centre for National Monuments (CMN) urged Hollande to name more women to the Pantheon, where the remains of such greats as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Victor Hugo are interred.

CMN chief Philippe Belaval said in October that he had urged Hollande to only name women to the Pantheon during his tenure "because the gender imbalance is very wide."

A poll conducted on the CMN website saw 1,200 suggestions made for new nominees to the Pantheon, with most of the top nominees women.

Among them were Olympe de Gouges, the revolutionary co-author of a declaration of women's rights who was guillotined in 1793, anarchist Louise Michel and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir.

In his report, Belaval said more needed to be done to modernise and attract visitors to the Pantheon.

About 700,000 people tour the mausoleum every year, far fewer than the number that visit top Paris attractions like the Notre Dame Cathedral, which receives more than 13 million visitors annually.

Date created : 2014-02-21