Missak Manouchian



Missak Manouchian was a key leader in the French Resistance during World War II, noted for his leadership of the FTP-MOI group.

Missak Manouchian, born in 1906 in Adiyaman, Ottoman Empire, experienced the trauma of losing his parents during the Armenian Genocide. After spending his early years in an orphanage in Lebanon, he relocated to France in 1925. In Paris, he engaged in various manual jobs while cultivating his passion for literature and political activism. His commitment to social justice led him to join the French Communist Party in 1931, where he became deeply involved in advocating for immigrant and worker rights. 

With the outbreak of World War II, Manouchian emerged as a prominent figure in the French Resistance. He took on a leadership role within the FTP-MOI (Francs-tireurs et partisans - Main-d'œuvre immigrée), a resistance group predominantly composed of immigrant fighters. Under his command, the group executed numerous significant operations against the Nazi occupation in Paris. One of their most notable achievements was the assassination of Julius Ritter, a high-ranking Nazi official responsible for forced labor conscription in France. 

Despite their successes, Manouchian and his comrades were captured in November 1943 due to intense surveillance and betrayal. The Nazi regime sought to undermine the Resistance by portraying them as foreign criminals during their trial. This led to the notorious "Affiche Rouge" (Red Poster) campaign, which depicted Manouchian and his fellow fighters as dangerous outsiders to discredit their efforts. 

Condemned to death, Manouchian and 21 others were executed on February 21, 1944. In his poignant final letter to his wife, Mélinée, Manouchian expressed unwavering hope for the future and a steadfast dedication to the cause of freedom. His words reflected his deep love and commitment to both his personal and political life. 

Missak Manouchian's legacy is a powerful testament to the crucial role immigrants played in the French Resistance. His life and sacrifice have been commemorated in poetry, music, and literature, serving as enduring symbols of resistance against tyranny. On February 21, 2024, the 80th anniversary of his execution, Manouchian was reburied with his wife in the Panthéon in Paris, solidifying his place among France's revered national heroes. His story continues to inspire future generations in the ongoing struggle for justice and human rights.