Last survivor of famed immigrant French Resistance group dies at 101

French militant of Armenian descent Arsene Tchakarian, the last survivor of the World War II Missak Manouchian French resistant group, at home in Vitry-sur-Seine, a neighboring suburb of Paris, on Nov 29, 2011.
French militant of Armenian descent Arsene Tchakarian, the last survivor of the World War II Missak Manouchian French resistant group, at home in Vitry-sur-Seine, a neighboring suburb of Paris, on Nov 29, 2011.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The last surviving member of a group of immigrant workers that courageously resisted the Nazi occupation of France during World War II has died at the age of 101, his family said Sunday (Aug 5).

Arsene Tchakarian, a tailor of Armenian origin, died on Saturday (Aug 4) at a hospital near his home in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine.

He was a member of a small group of foreign Resistance members led by Armenian poet and fellow communist Missak Manouchian that carried out attacks on German forces and acts of sabotage in Nazi-occupied France in 1943.

In 1944, the group, which included a number of Jews, was put out of action when 23 of its members were rounded up and sentenced to death by a German military court.

The collaborationist Vichy regime later tried to discredit the group and defuse the anger over the executions in an infamous red poster depicting the dead fighters as terrorists.

Tchakarian, who was born in Turkey in 1916, managed to avoided arrest and escape to Bordeaux, where he remained active in the Resistance until the war ended.

He received multiple medals for his bravery but had to wait until 1958 before being granted French citizenship.

After the war the father of six became a tireless campaigner for the recognition of the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians during World War 1 as genocide.

In 2012, he received the Legion of Honour, France's highest distinction.