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Tribute to Russian participants in French Resistance movement to be paid in France

May 05, 2015, 4:48 UTC+3 PARIS
It is timed for the 70th anniversary since victory over Nazi Germany
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PARIS, May 5. /TASS/. A ceremony in memory of Princess Vera Obolensky and other Russian heroes of the French Resistance movement will be held at the Sainte Genevieve des Bois cemetery near Paris on Tuesday.

It is timed for the 70th anniversary since victory over Nazi Germany.

"Vera Obolensky’s serene image will always be a reminder of engagement of the Russian community in Paris in the liberation of France," Dimitri de Kochko, the head of Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots told TASS. He recalled that officials of the Third Reich believed the 32-year-old Russian princess was a particularly dangerous criminal.

Vicky, as she was called by the Resistance fighters, was a lieutenant of the Forces francaises libres (French Free Forces, or FFL) and the leader of the Union of Russian Patriots in France. Her responsibility was to maintain communications among Resistance fighters and to prisoners of war.

After her arrest by Gestapo at a safe house in Paris at the end of 1943, she passed through a chain of prisons but she never disclosed a single fellow-fighter or place of secret meetings. The futility of interrogations that were conducted for several months by the most sophisticated Nazi investigators led up to her execution on a guillotine in Berlin in August 1944.

Vera, the daughter of the czarist Vice Governor of Baku Apollon Makarov, grew up among Russian immigrants in Paris. Everyone who knew her was fascinated with the powers of her natural charm.

She married to Prince Nicolas Obolensky, also a Russian immigrant shortly before the Nazi invasion of France. The newly-wed Obolensky spouses were among the first ones to join the ranks of the French Resistance at the end of June 1940.

Vicky did her best to save her husband from arrest by denying vehemently any involvement on his part in clandestine organizations. Nonetheless, he was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp where he was liberated from at the very end of the war, many months after his wife had been executed.

The list of Princess Vera’s posthumous awards includes the Soviet Order of the Great Patriotic War and three French distinctions, one of which is the Order of the Legion of Honor.

Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery issued a special decree where he expressed admiration of Vera Obolensky’s achievements. He said she had given her life for enabling Europe to become free again.

After the war, Nicolas Obolensky went into the ministry and became father superior of the Russian Orthodox cathedral in Paris. He left a will to put Vera’s name alongside his own on his tombstone.

Flowers will also be laid to the tombs of other Russian fighters of the Resistance who were buried at Sainte Genevieve des Bois. One of them is Zinovy Pechkov, an adopted son of the outstanding Russian writer and dramatist Maxim Gorky.

A hero of World War I, General Pechkov was among the first ones to join General De Gaulle after his appeal to fellow-countrymen in June 1940 to join the Resistance.

He performed numerous orders of De Gaulle’s government in exile and received France’s highest state award.

With the beginning of resistance movement, the Russians worked for the intelligence agencies linked to De Gaulle’s staff, were members of guerilla groups and published underground newspapers.

It is noteworthy that the singer-songwriter who composes the famous Chant des Partisans (The Song of the Guerillas), Anna Marly, was also Russian.

The French guerillas heard the song for the first time on the BBC wavelengths and immediately adopted it as their call-sign.

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