the manouchian group :: last letters

the last letters of the members of the manouchian group

21 february 1944: missak manouchian, georges cloarec, rino della negra, tomas elek, maurice fingerczwajg, spartaco fontano, imre glasz, leon goldberg, szlama grzywacz, stanislas kubacki, cesare luccarini, marcel rayman, roger rouxel, willy szapiro, robert wichitz.
may 1944: olga bancic

missak manouchian

source: lettres des fusillés, preface de jacques duclos, editions sociales, paris. 1970;
translated: by mitch abidor.

turkish-born armenian missak manouchian had written poetry and edited political and literary journals before the war. head of the armenian section of the ftp-moi, he was promoted to chief of the parisian unit in 1943. his is perhaps the most famous and beautiful of all final letters. it inspired the poet louis aragon to write a poem about the group, which was later set to music by leo ferré.

my dear melinée, my beloved little orphan,

in a few hours i will no longer be of this world. we are going to be executed today at 3:00. this is happening to me like an accident in my life; i don’t believe it, but i nevertheless know that i will never see you again.

what can i write you? everything inside me is confused, yet clear at the same time.

i joined the army of liberation as a volunteer, and i die within inches of victory and the final goal. i wish for happiness for all those who will survive and taste the sweetness of the freedom and peace of tomorrow. i’m sure that the french people, and all those who fight for freedom, will know how to honor our memory with dignity. at the moment of death, i proclaim that i have no hatred for the german people, or for anyone at all; everyone will receive what he is due, as punishment and as reward. the german people, and all other people will leave in peace and brotherhood after the war, which will not last much longer. happiness for all… i have one profound regret, and that’s of not having made you happy; i would so much have liked to have a child with you, as you always wished. so i’d absolutely like you to marry after the war, and, for my happiness, to have a child and, to fulfill my last wish, marry someone who will make you happy. all my goods and all my affairs, i leave them to you and to my nephews. after the war you can request your right to a war pension as my wife, for i die as a regular soldier in the french army of liberation.

with the help of friends who’d like to honor me, you should publish my poems and writings that are worth being read. if possible, you should take my memory to my parents in armenia. i will soon die with 23 of my comrades, with the courage and the serenity of a man with a peaceful conscience; for, personally, i’ve done no one ill, and if i have, it was without hatred. today is sunny. it’s in looking at the sun and the beauties of nature that i loved so much that i will say farewell to life and to all of you, my beloved wife, and my beloved friends. i forgive all those who did me evil, or who wanted to do so, with the exception of he who betrayed us to redeem his skin, and those who sold us out. i ardently kiss you, as well as your sister and all those who know me, near and far; i hold you all against my heart. farewell. your friend, your comrade, your husband.

manouchian michel

p.s. i have 15,000 francs in the valise on the rue de plaisance. if you can get it, pay off all my debts and give the rest to arméne. mm

georges cloarec

source: philippe ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, fayard, paris. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
georges cloarec was neither a foreigner nor a communist. seeking to enter the resistance, he found himself assigned to the ftp-moi.

dear uncle and aunt,

i write you these two words to let you know that i’ll soon be going before the firing squad, at 3:00. but you mustn’t cry, since it has no effect on me to know that in seven hours i’ll be executed. i did my duty as a soldier.

dear uncle, i’m letting you know that i wrote to papa, but i didn’t tell them that i’m going to be executed. you have only to gently let them know; it will be hard for them to learn of it brutally. above all, be careful, when you tell my uncle georges and my aunt marie not to shock them too much.

send greetings to all the comrades on my behalf.

i leave you for life.

your nephew and cousin who loves you.

georges

there is nothing more beautiful than to die for france. farewell.

rino della negra

source: philippe ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, fayard, paris. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
21 year-old italian rino della negra joined the resistance after being called-up to be sent to germany as part of the service du travail obligatoire, the mandatory labor service.

dear parents:

these two lines to tell you that i’ve been condemned to a severe penalty. i very much regret not having told you what i did, but it had to be so. pretend that i was at the front, and be as courageous as me.

little father and little mother, you have always been paradise for me … i kiss all of argenteuil from the beginning to the end.

your dear son who loves you till the last minute of his life.

tomas elek

source: david diamant. combattants, héros & martyrs de la resistance, editions renouveau, paris. 1984;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
19 -year old hungarian born tomas elek, who had sabotaged materiel, thrown grenades at soldiers, and destroyed a german bookstore, write two letters, to a family friend and then to his own friends.

dear mme verrier:

i send you this farewell letter with the hope that you’ll find my family one day. tell them that i didn’t suffer, and that i died thinking of them, and above all of my brothers, who’ll have a more beautiful youth than mine.
i die, but i ask you to live.

farewell; let my memory remain in the heart of those who knew me. my friends should all live life, and my last wish is that they not feel sorrow over my fate, since i die so that they will be happy.

and his second letter, to his friends

dear friends,

i write you this farewell letter to confirm to you, if there was any need, that my intentions were pure.
i don’t have the time here for long, empty phrases.

all i have to say to you is that you shouldn’t be sad but, on the contrary, gay, since for you there will be singing tomorrows.

farewell; keep my memory in your hearts and speak of me from time to time with your children.

maurice fingerczwajg

source: david diamant. combattants, héros & martyrs de la resistance, editions renouveau, paris. 1984;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
21- year old maurice fingerczwajg was a young communist who joined the resistance in 1942.his family had been taken by the nazis, so he wrote to a neighbor.

madame:

i’m writing you these last words from my hand to tell you of my farewell to life which i wanted more beautiful than it was.

if my parents and my brothers have the luck to one day return alive from the torment that i died as a brave man and in thinking of them. the life i lead before was not a life, and i don’t know how to express all the confused ideas which move about in my head. i’m also sending you some articles of clothing, which you should give to my parents who will perhaps return one day. i thought of you for these final tasks knowing of your devotion.

the day of deliverance now chimes for me in this land which loved and in which i will now rest. i kiss you with all my heart, including in this kiss my dear parents and my dear brothers; my thoughts also go out to your husband, who was always so nice to me, and to my school chum robert, who’ll tell all his school friends that i haven’t forgotten the good times we spent together. my thoughts stop at the end of my pen, hoping you will think from time to time of little maurice.

p.s. i also kiss with all my heart your little jean and suzanne, who served me your pleasant dishes.

spartaco fontano

source: philippe ganier raymod. l’affiche rouge, fayard, paris. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
the italian anti-fascist spartaco fontano wrote to his mother.

my dear mama:

i know that among everyone, you will suffer the most, and it’s to you that i send my last thought… i joined the army of liberation, and i die as victory arrives. such was my destiny. i’ll soon go before the firing squad with my 23 comrades. my personal affairs will be sent to you by the prison. i’m keeping papa’s sweater so that the cold doesn’t make me shiver….

imre glasz

source: philippe ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, fayard, paris. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
the hungarian imre glasz wrote to his child and to his wife ila, who had also been an active member of the ftp-moi. note: all the awkwardness of expression is in the original french, which was glasz learned late in life.

my little wife ila and borsi:

these are the last hours of my life. we go before the firing squad at three o’clock in the afternoon. one page won’t suffice to write all i’d like. my little ila, i kiss you and love you infinitely. i hope you’ll get better and can yet be healthy. be as optimistic as i am. i have nothing for which to reproach myself; i have lived like a man and want to die like one. life has no great value without freedom, and those who don’t fight for their life don’t deserve it. as for me, i wish for a much better life. raise and educate your children to show them life as it is. i’m not moved, but it’s so cold that i can’t write. just this minute we received a package from the red cross, and we’re eating it so as not to go to the beyond on an empty stomach. all i regret is not to have fulfilled my dreams, to make the world better. i ask you to keep my affairs ila can do with them whatever she wants. if you can, send some money to hungary for my father who is very poor and is 80-years old. my darlings, i kiss you a thousand times and wish you all that is good. ila don’t forget me as i will not forget her. it’s funny, i am a poor spirit, in the cell we can’t write. i have thousands and thousands of friends, i can’t give their names there isn’t enough room. i kiss all of them, all of them. we have fallen in the struggle, but they’ll have a life other than ours. forgive me for not being a man crying at the edge of his life, but courageous and ready to die. my little ila, borsi, little andré and odette, all those who are dear to me. let all the goodness that i have in me be with you in your life. i kiss you for the last time. a thousand kisses.

glasz imre

leon goldberg

source: david diamant. combattants, héros & martyrs de la resistence, editions renouveau, paris. 1984;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
leon goldberg, a 20-year old from lodz, whose family had been swept up in the infamous round-up of jews known as the rafle de vel d’hiv, wrote to his parents and his fiancée.

dear parents,

if you return (and i think you will), don’t cry for me. i fulfilled my duty in fighting as i could.

i would have liked to see you one last time and hold you in my arms, but that just isn’t possible. at least you have two more sons who will become men. i fought so that you, henri, max, would have a better life if you return, and also so that they not see again another war in twenty years. they are young; the future is theirs. i don’t know what else to write. there are so many things to say.

dear parents, henri, max, dear brothers, i kiss you with all my soul.

your son,

leon

to his fiancée

my dearest:

my last letter and my last remembrance for you; i’m going to go before the firing squad at 3:00. it’s 11:30. in the first place, i would like for you not to cry and that you be courageous, as i am myself, i’m not afraid to die. i even think that it’s a bit much. quite a terrific birthday present, don’t you think? [goldberg’s birthday was february 24.]

you know since saturday , via the newspapers, what awaits me. your picture is before me this morning, like always. i’m taking it with me on this long journey from which, i think, no one has ever returned. console yourself quickly; we knew each other so little. i fulfilled my obligation before everyone, i regret nothing. all i would like is that from time to time all of my friends think of me.

now, i kiss your parents, fanny, yourself, my dearest, as well as all my friends. when my parents return you should return my affairs to them. take care of all of this when everyone has returned.

they got a little carried away for my birthday present, don’t you think? i’m not writing anything very important, i don’t have anything important to write. it’d be better if we talked of our friends…

i don’t stop eating now. what would you like me to say, my dearest, we all have to die some day. i loved you very much, but it’s not because of that that you should forget that life continues.

within a short while, i hope you’ll have recovered, and that life will go on as before.

farewell to you all, life will be better for you ; i kiss you all, your family and you, ginette. i ask forgiveness of all the friends i may have forgotten. my ginette, i leave with your name on my lips.

vive la france.

leon

my ginette, a few words more. for a little while i had hope, but i know what i risked. we should regret nothing. regrets serve no purpose. we could have been together. be strong, you and your parents. i kiss you all one more time.

one last time, my thoughts go out to all of you, my friends, family, everyone i know. farewell.
we have won the war.

be strong.

leon goldberg

szlama grzywacz

source: david diamant. combattants, héros & martyrs de la resistance, editions renouveau, paris. 1984;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
35- year old polish jew szlama grzywacz had participated in the bombing of the paris-based german newspaper pariser zeitung.

dear janine,

at three o’clock today i go before the firing squad. i’ve kept my calm up to the last minute, as befits a jewish worker.

i die, but you’ll never forget me.

if any of my family members are alive, tell them about me.

i die, but you live. i send you my best wishes. i bid farewell to you and to all my friends.

courage, courage, and more courage.

better tomorrows aren’t far.

i kiss you a thousand times. i kiss all my friends

your beloved,

grzywacz slama

stanislas kubacki

source: pkilippe ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, fayard, paris. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor
polish spanish civil war veteran stanislas kubacki wrote to his wife and son.

my beloved wife genia and my beloved son edria,

for the last time, i write you a few words.

i’m informing you that i appeared before a german military tribunal on february 18.

i was condemned to death, and today i go before the firing squad. i kept my calm till the last moment, and i remained faithful to all my family.

my dear genia, i ask you not to be cast down by my death, but to raise our son well, for he’ll son work for you and remains with you as a souvenir of me. love him more than your life. i am done.

i kiss you for the last time, as well as your family, mine, and all our friends.

i die for freedom

your stanislas kubacki

cesare luccarini

source: philippe ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, editions fayard. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor
cesare luccarini, 21 years old, had joined the young communists as soon as he arrived in france in 1937, and had joined the resistance at its very beginnings.

dear father, sister, and all of you,

two words to tell you that i’ve just been condemned to death. you mustn’t lose hope. have faith till the end. dear father, redirect the love you had for me to my little nephew.

what can you do? such is life. i ask forgiveness for the evil i’ve done, to you as well as the family.

above all, father, don’t do anything foolish. what i ask of you is that you be courageous to the very end.
kiss all my friends and all the family for me.

i end this wishing you a better future, and kissing all of you with all my heart.

be courageous, all of you, and have faith.

your son and brother who loves you all to the bottom of his heart up till the last minute.

cesare

the greatest proof of love is to give your life for those you love. be as courageous as me.

marcel rayman

sources: david diamant. combattants, héros & martyrs de la resistance, editions renouveau, paris. 1984. stephane courtois, denis peschansky and adam rayski. le sang de l’etranger, fayard, paris. 1989;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
marcel rayman , 21- year old member of the equipe speciale — the special team, and one of the most daring of all resistance fighters, wrote two letters.
both his brother simon and his mother had been deported, so his first letter was to his other family members.

dear aunt, uncle and cousins:

at the moment you read this letter, i’ll be no more. i’m going before the firing squad today at 3:00. i regret nothing that i’ve done. i am completely peaceful and calm. i love you and hope you will live happily. please give the following note to mama and simon if they return some day, as i hope they will.

my dear aunt, i would so much have liked to see you again, as well as my little cousin, who i’ve almost never seen. i’m together right now with three of my comrades who will meet the same fate as me. we’ve just received a package from the red cross and we’re eating like kids all the sweets i so love. i kiss you all one last time; you, my aunt, my uncle, my little fernande, my little madeleine, and also my little elise. here we are all in…

i’m sure this will cause you more pain than me.

marcel

(he also wrote to his mother)

little mother,

when you read this letter, i’m sure it will cause you extreme pain, but i will have been dead for a while, and you’ll be consoled by my brother who will live happily with you and give you all the joy i would have liked to give you.

forgive me for not writing at greater length, but we are all so joyful that that it’s impossible to think of the pain you will feel. i can only say one thing, and that’s that i love you more than anything in the world, and i would have liked to live for your sake alone. i love you, i kiss you, but words can’t describe what i feel.
your marcel who adores you and who’ll think of you up to the last minute. i adore you, and long live life.
my dear simon. i’m counting on you to do all i can’t do myself. i kiss you, i adore you, i’m content, live happily and make mama happy the way i would have had i lived. live the beautiful and joyful life that you will all have. tell all my friends and comrades that i love them all. don’t pay any attention if my letter is crazy, but i can’t remain serious. i love everyone and long live life. let everyone live happily.

marcel

maman and simon i love you and would love to see you again.

roger rouxel

source: pierre ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, editions fayard. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
roger rouxel, a 19-year old frenchmen, had shot down a german officer shortly before being captured. he wrote to his fiancèe.

dear darling little mathilde:

i’m writing you a first and last letter, which isn’t very gay. i’m telling you of my death sentence and execution for this afternoon at 3:00, along with several comrades.

i ask you to have much courage, i’m going to die thinking of you, up to the last second, as i always have… choose a good, honest man who will make you happy.

keep my memory as long as you wish, but i have to tell you one thing: no one lives with the dead. i had made beautiful projects for you and me, but fate has decided differently.

i swear to you that i never had a moment’s weakness. i die as a soldier of liberation and a french patriot.
if you’d like, you should ask of my dear parents, who i’m going to leave with great regret, a souvenir of me, which should never leave you.

i end in kissing you with all my heart, and your memory accompanies me to the end.

your fiancé who leaves you forever.

roger rouxel

willy szapiro

source: david diamant. combattants, héros & martyrs de la resistance, editions renouveau, paris. 1984;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
willy szapiro, polish jew, former member of the palestine communist party, who was a communist militant in austria after the anschluss, and headed a labor organization in france before joining the resistance, wrote twice to his pregnant wife.

my beloved child,

after four months, i can at last write a beautiful but, alas, sad letter, for i’m going before the firing squad.
i had four tough months, but i never weakened, for i know to what cause i had dedicated my life. naturally, it’s painful to abandon beautiful life. i hope that by now our child has entered the world, and he can’t know his father.

i send you many dreams, my dear, as well as to our little darling.

bring our children up in the same spirit.

i am not alone in giving my life in this struggle.

willy

dear little henriette,

it’s my last letter. this afternoon we’ll be executed. not very agreeable, but it’s the struggle. naturally i would have preferred the battlefield, unfortunately i didn’t have the luck. too bad, no need to cry. i confide to you my two little ones. i die tranquilly for i know we have many friends especially personally in you (sic).
i regret that i can’t see you and kiss you before dying. the last three days after my condemnation i was with two young frenchman and i learned to love france even more. what good spirits!

farewell my little one, farewell all my friends, farewell beautiful france.

i can’t write because i’m too cold and a thousand kisses to all of you.

robert wichitz

source: philippe ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, fayard, paris. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor
robert wichitz, son of polish miners in the north of france, who the nazis mistakenly took for a jew when putting him on the red poster, wrote to his parents.

my dear parents,

just a few words to tell you of my death sentence, and that i’ll be executed this afternoon at 3:00.

aside from that, and despite it all, my morale is good, and, more than that, don’t worry too much about it.
i swear to you that i’m not at all scared, for i believe i deserved it, and i’ve been expecting it for three months. so i’ve gotten used to it. i hope you’ve heard something in the newspapers. i’m counting on you, i beg you to be reasonable, for everything is forgotten with time, and all you have to do is carry on as if i wasn’t condemned, and soon life will be beautiful.

i’m going to fall, but sorrow mustn’t crush you; you must be as strong as i am at this moment. my death isn’t extraordinary, and no one should feel sorry for me, for thousands fall every day, on the front or otherwise.

i know it will be tough for you who love me to never see me again, but it has to be accepted and one has to know how to pay.

i implore you, be brave, and tell yourselves that i die like a man, and that death doesn’t frighten me. i thought of you much, during my captivity, and i didn’t have one moment of weakness.

i hope that you will be able to prove yourselves courageous too; i end this, dear parents, kissing you with all my heart, with the regret of not being able to hold you one more time in my arms.

farewell papa, farewell my little maman, courage…

robert

olga bancic

source: philippe ganier raymond. l’affiche rouge, fayard, paris. 1975;
translated: for marxists.org by mitch abidor.
romanian -jewish communist olga bancic was not executed on february 21, 1944 with the rest of her comrades. she was sent to germany and was beheaded on may 10. this final letter, addressed to her daughter dolores — who was being hidden by a french family — , was thrown out a window while she was being transported. the note attached to it said: “dear madame: i ask you to please give this letter to my little girl dolores jacob after the war. this is the last wish of a mother who will only live twelve more hours.”

my dear little daughter, my darling little love

your mother is writing the last letter, my dear little daughter; tomorrow at 6:00, on may 10, i will be no more.

don’t cry, my love; your mother doesn’t cry any more either. i die with a peaceful conscience and with the firm conviction that tomorrow you will have a happier life and future than your mother’s. you will no longer have to suffer. be proud of your mother, my little love. i always have your image before me.

i’m going to believe that you will see your father, and i have hope that he’ll meet a fate different from mine. tell him that i always thought of him, as i always thought of you. i love you both with all my heart. both of you are dear to me. my darling child, your father is, for you, also a mother. he loves you a lot. you won’t feel the loss of your mother. my darling child, i finish this letter with the hope that you will be happy all your life, with your father, with everyone.

i kiss you with all my heart, a lot a lot.

farewell my love.

your mother

source: marxists.org

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