20 May 2015

Guy Môquet

Many stations on the Paris Métro are designed in a way to reflect the places they represent. The Louvre station obviously comes to mind as a special kind of subway station.

Our nearest métro station is Guy Môquet, a station on line 13. It is situated on the border of the 17e and 18e arrondissements and it is down the street from our apartment on rue Marcadet.

At first, Guy Môquet was just the name of a station to me. Yet another name that didn't mean much; something important to somebody sometime, but not necessarily to me. One day I read the mural in the station tunnel and I realized there was something special about this very real person named Guy Môquet.

Guy Môquet was a member of the French Resistance and he was killed, partly because he was a member of the Resistance, and partly because of his political beliefs.

During the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, Guy Môquet was taken hostage and later executed by firing squad in retaliation for attacks on the German military by the Resistance.

He was born on 26 April 1924 in the 18e arrondissement of Paris, somewhere near our apartment. He was a member of the Communist Youth Movement, and was denounced by the French government of the day, collaborators with the Nazis. Communist youth and party members were key members of the Resistance even when many others acquiesced.

On 22 October 1941, he and 26 other prisoners, all Communists, were executed. It was a statement by the Nazi regime, and by the French Government too. Guy Môquet was the youngest at only seventeen years. Before being shot he wrote a letter to his parents which has become famous throughout France, especially when taken in the context of his political beliefs.
Ma petite maman chérie,
mon tout petit frère adoré,
mon petit papa aimé,
Je vais mourir!
Ce que je vous demande, toi, en particulier ma petite maman, c'est d'être courageuse. Je le suis et je veux l'être autant que ceux qui sont passés avant moi. Certes, j'aurais voulu vivre. Mais ce que je souhaite de tout mon coeur, c'est que ma mort serve à quelque chose. Je n'ai pas eu le temps d'embrasser Jean. J'ai embrassé mes deux frères Roger et Rino.
Quant au véritable je ne peux le faire hélas ! J'éspère que toutes mes affaires te seront renvoyées, elles pourront servir à Serge, qui je l'escompte sera fier de les porter un jour.
A toi, petit Papa, si je t'ai fait, ainsi qu'à petite Maman, bien des peines, je te salue une dernière fois. Sache que j'ai fait de mon mieux pour suivre la voie que tu m'as tracée.
Un dernier adieu à tous mes amis et à mon frère que j'aime beaucoup. Qu'il étudie bien pour être plus tard un homme.
17 ans et demi! Ma vie a été courte! Je n'ai aucun regret, si ce n'est de vous quitter tous.
Je vais mourir avec Tintin, Michels.
Maman, ce que je te demande, ce que je veux que tu me promettes, c'est d'être courageuse et de surmonter ta peine. Je ne peux pas en mettre davantage.
Je vous quitte tous, toutes, toi Maman, Serge, Papa, je vous embrasse de tout mon cœur d'enfant.
Votre Guy qui vous aime.
Dernières pensées: "Vous tous qui restez, soyez dignes de nous, les 27 qui allons mourir!"

My darling little Mummy,
my adored little brother,
my much loved Daddy.
I am going to die!
What I ask of you, especially you Mummy, is to be brave. I am, and I want to be, as brave as all those who have gone before me.Of course, I would have preferred to live. But what I wish with all my heart is that my death serves a purpose. I didn't have time to embrace Jean. I embraced my two brothers Roger and Rino.
As for my real brother, I cannot embrace him, alas! I hope all my clothes will be sent back to you, they might be of use to Serge, I trust he will be proud to wear them one day.
To you, my Daddy to whom I have given many worries, as well as to my Mummy, I say goodbye for the last time. Know that I did my best to follow the path that you paved for me.
A last farewell to all my friends, to my brother whom I love very much. May he study hard to become a man later on.
Seventeen and a half years! My life has been short. I have no regrets, if only that of leaving you all. I am going to die with Tintin, Michels.
Mummy, what I ask you, what I want you to promise me, is to be brave and to overcome your sorrow. I cannot write any more.
I am leaving you all, Mummy, Serge, Daddy, I embrace you with all my child's heart.
Your Guy who loves you.
 A last thought : "All of you who remain, be proud of us, the 27 who will die!"
Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2015.

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