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« Joséphine Baker at the Pantheon, a powerful message of openness to the world »

Specialist in the history of the Resistance and professor at Sciences Po, Guillaume Piketty analyzes the way in which Emmanuel Macron inscribes himself, through his tributes to the “heroes” of France, in the long time of history.

How do you read the tribute paid to the last companion of the Liberation, Hubert Germain, this November 11?

With this ceremony, Emmanuel Macron closed the cycle opened by General de Gaulle at the Arc de Triomphe seventy-six years ago. On November 11, 1945, fifteen coffins of women and men who died for the Liberation of France were installed around the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, before being transferred to Mont-Valérien. On November 11, Hubert Germain’s coffin, placed on an armored vehicle, left the Invalides, stopped in front of the General’s statue and went up the Champs-Elysées surrounded by the large escort of the guard. Under the Arc de triomphe, he was placed head to tail next to the “Unknown”. As in 1945, it was a question of linking the glory of the fighters of the Liberation to that of the hairy people of the war of 14-18.

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Unlike this convoy and the majestic ceremony that followed, the burial in the crypt of Mont-Valérien was sober. The president accompanied, alone, the coffin, on which, according to the wishes of Hubert Germain, he placed a cross of Lorraine carved in the wood of the framework of Notre-Dame. It was a question of saluting the memory of the General, who was said to be « an oak », and of inscribing the order of the Liberation in the immemorial history of France.

As often in his tributes, Emmanuel Macron linked the spirit of the Resistance to the glory of the French army in Patay in 1429, the Imperial Guard in Reims in 1814 or even the poilus in Verdun in 1916. How do you interpret this? this need to establish a genealogy of French heroism?

This need is not new. In 1971, the day before the first 18-June without de Gaulle, André Malraux mentioned « All those who took refuge in the soul of France », « from the Imperial Guard up to the 300,000 dead on the Chemin des Dames, from the cavaliers of Reims and Patay to the franc-tireurs of 1870 », and mixed « Their shadow with that of our last companion ». By also being part of the long term, Emmanuel Macron has once again placed himself as president in history. Evidenced by his tribute on November 11, in which he inscribed the values ​​of the order in the past, present and future of France.

On November 30, Josephine Baker will enter the Pantheon. How do you analyze this choice?

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