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World Death of Henri Ecochard, hero of the Free French Forces, and of Frida Wattenberg, figure of the Jewish Resistance

01:50  07 april  2020
01:50  07 april  2020 Source:   leparisien.fr

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Frida Wattenberg , a figure of the Jewish resistance , died after being infected with the coronavirus, reported the Paris Holocaust Memorial. Born on April 7, 1924 to Polish Jewish parents, Frida Wattenberg was to celebrate her 96th birthday. She grew up in the Parisian Jewish neighbourhood

Free France and its Free French Forces ( French : France Libre and Forces françaises libres) were the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War and its military forces

The coronavirus got the better of two heroes of the Second World War, two tireless fighters.

Le Parisien © AFP / Order of the Liberation. Le Parisien

"He will not have the funeral ceremony he deserves": Henri Ecochard, hero of the Free French Forces, was carried away Friday, at 96, by the Covid-19 , just like Frida Wattenberg, figure of the Jewish Resistance. "He had been in an Ehpad (from the Paris region, note) for barely a month, was starting to get better after major health concerns at the start of the year, the Covid had the last word," said his son, Cyril Ecochard.

Nonagenarian, Henri Ecochard still testified tirelessly of his commitment against Nazism. "He had all his head, could have benefited a little more. One of his dreams was to live to be 100 years old, "says his son.

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Like many of his brothers in arms of the Free French Forces, he lived an extraordinary youth. At just 17, he abandoned everything, high school, family, and embarked on a Polish tuna boat in La Rochelle to reach London.

"He didn't speak a word of Polish, not a word of English. He was recovered on the high seas, joined de Gaulle, was trained "in handling weapons," says Cyril Ecochard. He then went on to the military campaigns, in Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya ...

The "Ecochard list", a reference for historians

In June 1943, he learned to fly observation planes, for adjusting fire shots artillery. In 1944-45, he participated in the Landing of the First Free French Division in Provence then in the French Campaign which led him to Germany.

After the war, the former resistance fighter made his career with the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell. Once retired, he drew up the list of all the elders of Free France (60,000 names), which has become a reference for historians under the name of "Ecochard list".

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Henri Ecochard has also testified with passion to high school and college students. "He always had this flame inside him to remember, to explain to young people that it was necessary to fight, to follow good leaders, to have values ​​in life," said his son.

Military or ordinary civilians would have liked to pay him a last tribute. His funeral will be limited to no more than twenty people, an epidemic requires. "He was very humble, he will have a funeral in humility," observes Cyril Ecochard.

“Tireless combatant”

The same Friday, April 3, Frida Wattenberg also succumbed to the coronavirus, four days before her 96th birthday, announced the site of the Shoah Memorial .

- © Supplied by Le Parisien - Frida Wattenberg photographed 1999./AFP- Memorial de la Shoah-Evvy EISEN

In autumn 1940, aged just 16, she joined the Gaullist cell of the Lycée Victor-Hugo in Paris and participates in the collage of posters in the classes to call young people to the Resistance.

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In 1943, she joined the Jewish Resistance in Grenoble, in the Italian occupation zone, and helped to bring children to Switzerland. She then joined the Jewish Army (AJ), another resistance organization, in Toulouse.

After the Liberation, she worked for the Protection of Jewish Children (OPEJ) which takes care of children whose parents died in deportation, and campaigned for the creation of the State of Israel.

"Woman of heart and tireless fighter" according to the Holocaust Memorial, Frida Wattenberg has also long testified with students and contributed to research on Jewish Resistance in France.

Another victim of the coronavirus, Rafael Gómez Nieto, last survivor of the "Nueve" - the first column, consisting mainly of Spanish Republicans, to have entered occupied Paris on August 24, 1944 -, died on March 31 in Strasbourg.

But for all the witnesses of this time, the time remains for mobilization. "France has seen others, once again it will triumph over adversity", assured the Compagnons de la Liberation Daniel Cordier , Hubert Germain and Pierre Simonet in their appeal of March 17, 2020.

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