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Meline Manouchean, Misak’s wife, a life of resistance and remembrance

Misak Manuchyan’s wife, also a communist resistance fighter, survived him until 1989. On Wednesday, February 21, at 6:30 p.m., their coffins were carried up several hundred meters to reach the Pantheon.

To life, to death. Armenian resistance fighter and communist Misak Manuchyan will enter the Pantheon this Wednesday, February 21. His coffin will be accompanied by the coffin of his wife, Meline, who died in 1989, who will be admitted to the temple of personalities marking the history of the French nation at the same time.

Meline Sukemyan was born in 1913 in Constantinople (now Istanbul), she came from a rich family of civil servants of the Ottoman Empire. His fate becomes tragic when, at the age of only 3, he witnesses the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide, which will take away his parents. “Landless and familyless, facing persecution and poverty,” the LCI notes, he grew up in orphanages, mostly in Greece and especially in Corinth, before being sent to Marseilles in 1926 to continue his studies. In France, the stateless young man trained as an accountant and stenographer, then settled in Paris.

His fate changed again in 1934. That year, he met Misak Manouchyan at an event of the Armenian Aid Committee of the Armenian Aid Committee. Like him, he is also a communist. and like him, of Armenian origin. A year later, in 1935, she met the young man again, and their reunion took a romantic turn when he asked her to dance. Alas, the rider walks on his feet, which angers Meline. A few months later, during the HOC meetings, he met again the unfortunate rider with “shining black eyes”, as he recounts in a testimonial book published by Éditions Parentheses. This time will be good. Both stateless, Missac and Meline have in common a total commitment to French civilization. Love grows between them, and the couple wastes no time. The marriage was celebrated in 1936. on February 22. The beginning of an alliance that was both personal and warlike.

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near the Aznavouryans

Three years later, Misak Manuchyan was imprisoned as a foreign communist, and then joined the army. Upon his return to occupied Paris in 1940, he continued his militant activities in secret, distributing anti-Nazi leaflets with his historian friend Arsen Chakaryan. But once again, his ideals catch up with those of his wife, who also decides to become actively involved in the struggle against the occupation. From 1941 to the end of 1943, between two secret operations, the couple regularly took refuge at 22 rue Navarin, near Pigalle, in a modest apartment rented by Misha and Knar Aznavour, the parents of one…Charles Aznavour.

Actions on the ground multiply. While Misak joins the snipers and supporters of immigrant labor (FTP-MOI), Meline works as a liaison agent. She bravely faces danger and helps her husband in the Resistance as much as possible. And this, despite Misak’s reluctance to put her in danger. Regardless, the communist activist refuses to stay on the sidelines, determined to make her voice heard against oppression. Therefore, he takes care of future target detection, weapons transfer and reporting.

Farewell letter

1943 On the morning of November 16, when Misak Manouchyan was to meet Joseph Epstein, head of the FTP for the Paris region, at Evry-Petit-Beur station, the two men were arrested, then tortured and imprisoned for several months. At the end of the false trial reported in the collaborationist press, Misak Manuchyan was shot in 1944. on February 21 at the castle of Mont-Valerien, at the age of 37, with about twenty of his friends. A few hours before the execution, he will say goodbye to his “dear Meline”, his “dear little orphan” in a letter. “I deeply regret that I did not make you happy, I would like to have a child with you, as you always wanted,” he wrote from Fresnes prison. “So I’m begging you to definitely get married after the war and have a child for my happiness, and to fulfill my last wish, marry someone who can make you happy.”

Meline will receive the letter, but will not respect Misak’s wish to rebuild his life. Meline will never become a mother either. The motherhood she almost experienced, however, is revealing The world. “Few people know. Meline became pregnant at the beginning of the war while working on “anti-Nazi literature” and decided to abort. The activist’s choice, which “liberates” him,” writes journalist Ariane Chemin in an article published at the beginning of February. “Finally I would be able to give myself completely to the cause for which I was fighting,” the resistance fighter even wrote.

Meline Manushyan, born at the end of the war, will honor her husband’s memory and struggle in the shadows until the end of his life, in December 1989, in France. In 1945, he went to Soviet Armenia to bring Misak’s writings there. The local authorities refused him an exit visa and he remained there for many years until he was able to return to Paris in 1964.

“They went to the ultimate sacrifice”

in the special issue of HumanityHis great niece, Katia Girakosyan, says: “My grandmother Armen was Meline’s sister. He loved Gypsy and told me lots of jokes. I had access to the big story through the small door through the intimates. (…) Stateless, they fantasized about France and immediately adopted its motto: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. They accepted his values ​​and were ready to do anything to protect them. They went to the ultimate sacrifice.” A sacrifice that is honored today. Together, Misak and Meline Manoushian became the first foreign resistance fighters and communists to enter the Pantheon. And with them, a plaque with the names of 23 comrades who died for France killed by the Germans on February 21, 1944 and in the following months.

Source: Le Figaro

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