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- 02 -132018

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« A dedicated life », episode 4: René Cassin

Birth: 5 October 1887
Death: 20 February 1976
Companion of the Liberation – Decree of 1 August 1941

Mobilised in 1914 as Corporal of the 311th Infantry Regiment, he fought in the Battle of the Marne. After this fierce combat, for the rest of his life he remembered “those terrible nights of hand-to-hand offensive combat, by the light of our burning villages”. In October 1914, he was seriously wounded in the legs and stomach when Saint-Mihiel was captured by the Germans. He was 65% incapacitated and after rehabilitation, he returned to civilian life, where his legal training enabled him to work to improve living conditions for casualties, widows and orphans of war. From 1922 onwards, he chaired the Union fédérale des Mutilés et Veuves de Guerre (Federal Union of Disabled War Veterans and Widows).

A committed anti-Nazi, he went to England in June 1940 and worked for General de Gaulle. In London, he was the legal architect of Free France. He became Vice-President of the French Council of State after the war, and in 1968, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to this humanist, a promoter of universal harmony and the values of the Republic which he worked so hard to uphold. In 1987, he was buried in the Panthéon.

Credits: René Cassin, wounded in Chauvoncourt, Meuse on 12 October 1914. © Archives nationales (France)

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