1942: Boris Vilde, linguist

On this date in 1942, Estonian linguist and ethnographer Boris Vilde was shot with his French Resistance circle at Fort Mont-Valerien.

St. Petersburg-born, Estonian-raised, the young scientist came to Paris at age 25 (French link) with his life in a backpack.

In the eight short years remaining to him before he gave his life for his adopted land’s anti-Nazi resistance, Vilde cofounded the Paris Musee de l’Homme. (When visiting, be sure to look for the skull of Suleiman al-Halabi, a Syrian executed for assassinating one of Napoleon’s Egyptian officers in 1800.)

It says here that Vilde even imported the French word “resistance” into Estonian.

Boris knew whereof he spoke.

His Musee de l’Homme group recruited scientists and intellectuals and published anti-fascist propaganda.

When the Vichy government infiltrated it and had its principals condemned, one of Vilde’s compatriots is said to have bellowed at the firing squad at the last moment,

Imbeciles, it’s for you, too that I die.