The Pantheon, where the four Resistance fighters will be honoured. Photo: AFP
Four heros of the French Resistance will be honoured with a burial at the Pantheon mausoleum in Paris on Wednesday. Although two of the coffins will remain empty after objections from family members.
The four, two men and two women, are being honoured for their roles in fighting the Nazi occupation during World War Two.
In February last year, France's President Francois Hollande announced that they would receive the honour of being buried among the "national heroes" entombed in the Pantheon mausoleum.
Germaine Tillion, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Jean Zay and Pierre Brossolette – "embodied the values of France during their time on earth", Hollande said.
"I wanted the spirit of the Resistance to be celebrated," he added.
Wednesday's ceremony will be attended by Hollande himself, who will make a speech commemorating the heros of the French resistance.
A procession made up of family members, former Resistance fighters, students and school pupils will also accompany the coffins into the Pantheon.
(The Pantheon, where the four Resistance fighters will be honoured. Photo: Ligelena/Flickr)
The move to include two women resistance fighters followed protests from feminist groups and a complaint from an official body for France's monuments urged the president to fix what it called a "wide gender imbalance" at the almost exclusively male-dominated Pantheon.
But while the coffins of Jean Zay and Pierre Brossolette will be laid to rest alongside some of the country's most famed writers, artists and scientists only soil from the graves of the two women will be buried in a symbolic move.
It comes after the families of De Gaulle-Anthonioz and Tillion objected to having their bodies removed from the family graves where they currently lie.
Tillion, an ethnologist who died aged 100, was a founding member of a famed Resistance cell of intellectuals and academics. She was sent to the Ravensbruck concentration camp for women, escaped and eventually wrote an insightful account of her time there.
De Gaulle-Anthonioz, a niece of General Charles de Gaulle, was another Resistance member who was sent to Ravensbruck and also wrote a memoir of that time.
The head of France's Centre for National Monuments said last year that a gender balanced Pantheon could attract more visitors, with only 700,000 visiting the mausoleum every year, far fewer than the likes of the Notre Dame Cathedral, which locks in over 13 million a year.
Only two women are buried there: Nobel prize-winning scientist Marie Curie and Sophie Berthelot, the wife of chemist Marcellin Berthelot.