Fort of Mont Valérien was built starting in 1841 in Suresnes, near
Paris, overlooking the Bois de Boulogne wood. It was here, during
the occupation – from 1940 to 1944 – that the Germans
executed about a thousand hostages and prisoners. They had been
brought there in a truck from other locations to be shot, were locked
up inside an unused chapel, and were later taken to a clearing a
hundred yards down from there. The bodies were then dispersed throughout
the Paris-area cemeteries.
Seven Companions of the Liberation were shot at Mont valérien
Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves
then end of the war, on the 18th of June of 1945, General De
to consecrate this place himself during a ceremony dedicated to
those who were massacred there: preceded by two hundred Companions of the Liberation, General
De Gaulle entered the Fort with the flame carriers. Accompanied
by Admiral Thierry d'Argenlieu, he
stopped for a moment of prayer in the old blockhouse where so many
condemned marched towards their death. Upon exiting, he leaned over
the bronze bowl and lit the flame that is the symbol of the Resistance,
which is never to go out.
Provisional Government of the French Republic ruled that a war memorial
was to be erected, dedicated to the War of 1939-1945. Mont Valérien
stood out as one of the most appropriate places for the Nation to
pay homage to its Sons. Upon the initiative of Henri Frenay
a great ceremony
took place on November 11th of 1945. The bodies of fifteen combatants
symbolizing the campaign of 1939-1940 – the Free French Movement,
the Resistance Movement and the Deportation – were placed
under the Arc de Triomphe during a solemn military parade, and then
taken to a temporary crypt at Mont Valérien.
1952, a sixteenth body, that of a French Resistance fighter in Indochina
killed by the Japanese was joined to be group (see the of
sixteen Men who died for France buried at Mont-Valérien).
Each year thereafter, on June 18th, an identical
ceremony was organized by the Chancellery
of the Order of the Liberation in the presence of General De
The "France Combattante" Memorial
"France Combattante" Memorial
When General De Gaulle became President
of the Republic, he decided to materialize the Will of the Nation
expressed after the Liberation by ordering that a Memorial be built
at Mont Valérien dedicated to "France Combattante".
monument was erected near the clearing where the executions took
place, on an esplanade measuring more than 10,000 m2.
It has sixteen bronze high reliefs, the work of several different
sculptors, representing allegories that are a reminder of the heroic
acts of the fighters. In the center, on a bronze square, stands
a Cross of Lorraine that is 12 meters tall, with an eternal flame
burning in front of it. Under the cross are two bronze doors: one
of these leads to a course of Memories, and the other leads to the
burial crypt carved out of the bedrock.
The Memorial was inaugurated by the President
of the Republic June 18th, 1960. The eve of the inauguration, at
night during a sumptuous ceremony, the coffins of the sixteen fighters
were transferred to the crypt. The sixteen tombs in vaults carved
out of the ground surround an urn containing the ashes of unknown
deportees. Vault No. 9 is empty – it is reserved for the last
Companion of the Liberation.
Ceremony of the transfer of 16 coffins to
of the France Combattante Memorial, on June 17th, 1960.
commemorative ceremony on June 18th, 2005
Mont Valérien ceremony is the most outstanding annual event organized
by the Chancellery. Attendees include the most important figures
of the National Government, the Companions of the Liberation, their
families and the families of deceased Companions, representatives
of the the Companion of the Liberation
the the Companion of the Liberation
units. On June
18th, 2005, almost 1,000 people were present at this event.
June 17th, 2006, there was a mass dedicated to the memory of General
De Gaulle at the church of Saint-Louis-des-Invalides, to which the
various authorities were invited. The actual ceremony at Mont Valérien
took place the afternoon of the 18th of June from 18 to 19 p.m..
ceremony is always carried out in the same exact way. First of all,
the invited guests and the government representatives arrive and
position themselves according to protocol. Then the President of
the Republic reviews the troops and is then lead to his spot by
the Chancellor. The Chancellor then revives the Flame using a torch
with the flame from the Arc de Triomphe. After a minute of silence,
the text of the Appeal of June 18th is read. Then
the President of the Republic, accompanied by the Chancellor, enters
the crypt, takes a moment of prayer and signs the Visitors’
Book. Upon coming out, the President greets those present, including
the Companions of the Liberation, before the Chancellor leaves.
Chancellery / Activities
of the Chancellery
Last updated: 28 July 2006
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