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WWII

Last survivor of famed immigrant French Resistance group dies at 101

The last surviving member of a group of immigrant workers who courageously resisted the Nazi occupation of France during World War II has died at the age of 101, his family said Sunday.

Last survivor of famed immigrant French Resistance group dies at 101
Photos: AFP

Arsene Tchakarian, a tailor of Armenian origin, died on Saturday 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.

 L'Affiche Rouge (“Red Poster”) is a famous propaganda poster distributed by Vichy France and German authorities in the spring of 1944 in occupied Paris, to discredit the Manouchian Group. Photo: YouTube

Tchakarian, who was born in Turkey in 1916, managed to avoid 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.

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WWII

Germany hands back Nazi-looted artwork to French heirs

Germany on Wednesday returned a painting looted by the Nazis which ended up in the spectacular art hoard of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Third Reich-era art dealer, to the family of a French real estate broker.

Germany hands back Nazi-looted artwork to French heirs
"Quai de Clichy. Temps gris" by Paul Signac. Photo: AFP
“Quai de Clichy. Temps gris” by Paul Signac was handed back to the family of French real estate broker Gaston Prosper Levy, in the sixth such return from Gurlitt's trove.
   
Investigators looking into the provenance of paintings in the stash left behind by Gurlitt found eyewitness accounts of German soldiers seizing the Signac work from Levy's property in France in 1940. 
   
“A countless number of the mostly Jewish collectors of art and cultural goods like Gaston Prosper Levy were persecuted, robbed or expropriated by Nazis,” said Germany's Culture Minister Monika Gruetters.
 
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“Others have had to sell their property far below its value or leave it behind while fleeing or emigrating. We can never make good on the suffering and injustice.”
   
Such returns are important, the minister said, as they offer “at least a little bit of historical justice”.
 
More than 1,500 artworks were discovered in 2012 in the possession of Munich pensioner Gurlitt.
   
His father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, had worked as an art dealer for the Nazis from 1938.
   
The discovery of the stash made headlines around the world and revived an emotional debate about how thoroughly post-war Germany had dealt with art plundered by the Nazi regime.
   
When Gurlitt died, the Bern museum accepted the collection, though it left about 500 works in Germany for a government task force to research their often 
murky origins. 
   
Determining their provenance has been slow, and it remained unclear how many of the works were stolen.
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