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France to honor 4 who 'evoke spirit of the Resistance'

| Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 5:45 p.m.

PARIS — President Francois Hollande announced on Friday that two women who fought with the French Resistance during World War II will be inducted into the Latin Quarter mausoleum that is the final resting place of dozens of French greats, but only one woman among them: Marie Curie.

France has chosen four people “who evoke the spirit of the Resistance,” Hollande said.

Resistance fighters Germaine Tillion and Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz, a niece of former President Gen. Charles de Gaulle, will bring those honored in the Pantheon to three women and 72 men. Pierre Brossolette, a key figure in the French Resistance, and Jean Zay, a politician who was assassinated in 1944 by Vichy France's Nazi-allied paramilitary forces, will join them in the Pantheon

De Gaulle-Anthonioz and Tillion joined the Resistance shortly after Nazi occupation in 1940. Both were active in a Resistance unit based in the Musee de l'Homme, a Paris anthropology museum. Eventually both were captured and shipped to a concentration camp in Ravensbrueck, Germany, where both survived the war, although Tillion's mother, also a Resistance member, died there in captivity.

Tillion, a co-founder of the Museum de l'Homme branch, helped organize prison escapes and underground networks before her 1942 arrest, according to Le Figaro newspaper. Both women wrote memoirs of their experiences inside Ravensbrueck. De Gaulle-Anthonioz died in 2002 aged 81, Tillion in 2008 at the age of 100.

In French, the word for “man” — homme — can be interpreted more broadly to mean “human” or “mankind.” But the Pantheon's inscription suggests it was very much intended for men: It had only male honorees for 110 years.

In 1885, Victor Hugo became the first person to be buried in the Pantheon, a former church designed by 18th-century architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot and often compared in style the Capitol building in Washington.

Philippe Belaval, the head of France's national monuments commission, reported to Hollande that Tillion and De Gaulle-Anthonioz deserved their places in the ranks of France's most honored dead.

“They were able to defend in all circumstances — as men were — the universal values of France,” Belaval wrote in his report.

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