France's Macron pays tribute to last survivor of WW2 liberation order


French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with General Thierry Burkhard, chief of Defence staff at the end of a national memorial service for Hubert Germain, the last companion of the Liberation, at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, France, October 15, 2021. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute on Friday to the last surviving member of an order honouring heroes of France's liberation during World War Two who died this week.

Hubert Germain, who died on Tuesday aged 101, had been the last living "Companion of the Liberation" - an order created by General de Gaulle in 1940 to honour soldiers, Resistance members and civilians who fought the country's Nazi occupation.

His coffin and medals of honour were carried through the Invalides monument in Paris, during a military ceremony attended by senior politicians and broadcast on national TV.

"He defended freedom with his brothers in arms, with his brothers in spirit - and all who recognise themselves as such - he would rebuild the brotherhood," Macron said.

"Our task will be to continue the fight with the same fervour. We will."

After the war, Germain was elected as a local mayor before joining parliament and serving as minister for post and telecommunications minister the 1970s.

In his last interview with Paris Match magazine in November last year, Germain described himself as "just a companion among companions."

"I wake up at 5 a.m., I daydream and I prepare my spiritual life," Germain told Paris Match in the interview.

The order, one of France's highest honours, counts 1,032 men and six women, including activist publisher Berty Albrecht and Simone Michel-Levy, who set up a clandestine communication network during the war.

Just over 700 of its members survived the war, including international statesmen such as Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and King Mohammed V of Morocco.

Germain, who had a son and two daughters, will be buried on Nov. 11 at Mont Valerien, a fortress west of Paris, alongside other members of the order.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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