rfi

On air
  • RFI English Live
  • RFI French Live

History France Legion of Honour World War Nazis

Issued on • Modified

102-year-old World War II heroine accepts Légion d'honneur

media
Genevieve Callerot with her medal AFP

A 102-year-old who helped at least 200 people flee the Nazis during the German occupation of France has been given France's highest honour, the Légion d'honneur. Geneviève Callerot finally agreed to abe made a knight of the Legion of Honour, having previously refused because "loads of other people deserved it a lot more".


Callerot received the Légion on Friday for helping more than 200 people, most of the Jews, flee the World War II occupation of the north of France and parts of the south-west, where she lived.

She had previously refused to accept the honour but agreed this year on condition that her family was associated with her in the award.

"I didn't want it because loads of other people deserved it a lot more," she said. "And then I thought about it. I'm going to take it all the same in association with my parents, my brothers and sisters."

Callerot's family helped people fleeing the Germans escape into the part of France administered by Marshall Philippe Pétain's collaborationist government.

Many were so exhausted they had to stop overnight and leave the next day.

She was arrested three times, spending three weeks in prison on the last occasion after being caught in the woods.

She was released because she claimed she had gone to meet a fiancé she invented "Jacques Martin" and believes there were too many Martin's in France for her captors to check her story.

Callerot had four brothers and sisters, only one of whom, Etienne Morise, is still alive.

He is now 83.

In 1957 she and her husband moved into a farm.They had three children.

At 63 years old she took up writing, penning "country novels".