Add comment February 8th, 2017 Headsman
On this date in 1943, Nazi guns immortalized five student martyrs of the French Resistance.
Jean-Marie Arthus (“Marchand” by his nom de guerre), Jacques Baudry (“Andre”), Pierre Benoit (“Francis”), Pierre Grelot (“Paul”) and Lucien Legros (“Jeannot”)* started small with subversive pamphleting and placarding but soon moved on to sabotage and armed opposition in affiliation with the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans.
The arrest of one of their teachers, Raymond Burgard, in 1942 spurred them to lead a student demonstration whose mass arrest they barely escaped. By that time their identities were known, and the boys had to go underground; for their remaining months at liberty they lived on the run and participated in occasional (albeit not very damaging) armed attacks on occupying forces — until that summer, when French intelligence arrested Arthus, Baudry, Grelot and Legros, and French police later caught Benoit.
All five were handed off by their collaborationist countrymen to the eager claws of the Germans, who condemned them as terrorists at a military trial.
A number of public places in France honor their memory, like the 14th arrondissement’s Place des Cinq-Martyrs-du-Lycée-Buffon. Their touching and determinedly optimistic last letters to their families can be read at the Cinq martyrs‘ French Wikipedia page.
* A sixth school chum, Michel Agnellet, could easily have joined them at the execution posts and in the martyrologies, but the five who were captured did not permit their interrogators to extract his name.
On this day..
- 1721: William Spigget, after peine forte et dure - 2016
- 1527: Georg Wagner - 2015
- 1844: Hester Foster and William Young Graham - 2014
- 1804: Little Harpe and Peter Alston, Mississippi pirates - 2013
- 1942: Icchok Malmed - 2012
- 1924: The first electrocutions in Texas - 2011
- 1910: George Reynolds and John Williams - 2010
- 1924: Gee Jon, debuting the gas chamber - 2009
- 1587: Mary, Queen of Scots - 2008
Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,Children,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Germany,History,Martyrs,Mass Executions,Occupation and Colonialism,Power,Shot,Terrorists,Torture,Wartime Executions