PARIS – France mourned Thursday one of its biggest intellectual heroes, Stéphane
Hessel, who died on Tuesday night at the age of 95, after a life dedicated to
fighting Nazis, human rights violators across the world and Zionism.
left-wing Liberation daily headlined its front page on Thursday, “The Just,” and
devoted no fewer than 32 pages to the man.
Hessel was born in Berlin
during World War I. His father was an intellectual whose parents had converted
from Judaism to Lutheranism, and his mother was also a Protestant (some say with
deep anti-Semitic roots). The family settled in France when Stéphane was seven
Hessel joined the Resistance movement of Gen. Charles
de Gaulle against the German occupation in 1941 and became a senior member of
the Conseil National de la Resistance led by Jean Moulin. The Gestapo arrested
him and he was sent him to the Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps. He
Between 1946 and 1948, he took part in the creation of the
United Nations, and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
a long career as a diplomat for the UN, for French Foreign Service, and worked
for a series of governmental organizations in France.
At the same time he
wrote and published many books, from the point of view of a humanist concerned
with the destiny of mankind and the earth.
In the following decades he
kept fighting in France, Europe and everywhere for human and social rights, and
in his last years particularly for illegal immigrants in France and Europe in
Hessel became famous around the world in 2010 after he published
“Time for Outrage!” (Indignez-vous!) a manifesto translated into dozens of
languages and printed in 4 million copies.
“The driving force of
resistance is outrage,” he explained. Hessel’s call and the economic crisis of
2011 inspired Spain’s Los Indignados anti-austerity movement.
Bayou, a local politician from the Paris region, called on President François
Hollande to bury Hessel in the Pantheon, where the great men of the France are
laid to rest, among them Emile Zola, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and
Voltaire. No decision has been taken yet.
But what is certain, all the
newspapers and television channels emphasized, is that Hessel’s anti-Zionism was
His wife, Christiane Hessel-Chabry, went a step further and
openly supported Hamas and its methods. The couple had visited the Gaza Strip.