Lucie Aubrac/Bernard

1912-2007 • France

Communist • Resistance • Anti-racist

Lucie Bernard, born in the suburbs of south-eastern Paris, was the daughter of a gardener badly wounded in the First World War. She attributed her early passionate pacifism to her hatred of the damage war brings.

In the 1930s she joined the young Communists and after 1940 became a resistance fighter in the Unoccupied Zone while working as a teacher. A film was made of the dramatic escape from the Gestapo that she organised for her husband in 1943, after which her husband adopted the pseudonym Aubrac they both changed their names to in 1950.

Lucie Bernard initially aimed to become a primary school teacher. But after securing a rare competitive scholarship she rejected the dormitory living and uniforms required and left home, drawn to studying history and wider political ideas.

She joined the International Youth Circle of Quakers in the early 1930s. It used to meet in Rue Guy-de-la-Brosse.

In 1933, after Hitler came to power in Germany, the French section of the Society of Friends set up an International Refugee Aid society in Rue Rataud to help refugees from Germany, and later from Spain.

This was probably how Bernard found out in 1935 that she could get cheap lodgings in an attic room in the same building as the Refugee Aid society, just to the south of the Sorbonne. She kept renting the room until 1939.

While still attending the Quaker Youth Circle meetings, in 1932 Bernard/Aubrac also joined the Young Communists. They appeared to her at the time as the most active and committed anti-militarists.

Bernard was a militant and courageous seller of the bi-monthly Avant-Garde young communist publication. In the 1930s its sellers were often attacked by members of the numerous fascist leagues. In 1935 she was asked by the Communist Party to sit on its Paris regional committee and invited (but declined) to go to the Lenin School in Moscow to be trained as a future leader.

Fascists were marching in Paris in the 1930s, and would beat up Communist Party and other left newspaper sellers if they were not defended by their comrades

In 1936 Bernard/Aubrac was helping make ends meet by working in a nursery school in Rue Victor Cousin next to the Sorbonne. She also heard a speech by the young radical politician, Jean Zay, and was so impressed that she cycled down to get involved in his re-election campaign in the Loiret in 1936.

Graduating from the Sorbonne in 1938 she was nominated to teach in a secondary school in Strasbourg. In December 1939, she married the son of wealthy Jewish shop owners, Raymond Samuel, a young engineer who had been called up into the army where he was also based in Strasbourg.

Raymond Samuel (Aubrac) (1914-2012) married Lucie in 1939 and was rescued from prison by her three times. He was a leader of the resistance in the Southern Zone. After the war he was close to the PCF and the Citizens Movement

By July 1940 Raymond was a German prisoner of war but Lucie Samuel helped him escape, with both of them travelling to Lyon in the unoccupied zone of France. That autumn with Emmanuel d’Astier they created a resistance group called ‘The Last Column‘ and started producing an underground paper called Libération. It aimed to break the predominant apathy towards the German occupation shared in the Southern Zone.

In the summer of 1942 Libération Sud asked Raymond to lead its new military wing. In March 1943 he was arrested by French police, along with other local resistance leaders. Lucie then went to the prosecutor pretending to be an agent of De Gaulle. She warned him that he would be a dead man if Raymond (then François Vallet) was not released. He was let out shortly afterwards and Raymond and Lucie then organised the escape of the other resistance fighters when they were being transferred to hospital.

In June 1943 Raymond was arrested again in Lyon with Jean Moulin and eight other national resistance leaders. This time the arrest was by the Gestapo, headed at the time by Klaus Barbie.*

*Barbie, known as the ‘Butcher of Lyon’, had personally tortured French resistance fighters. The US helped him escape to Bolivia after the war, where in 1980 he was implicated in the 1979 Garcia Meza fascist coup d’état. After the Junta was forced out of power in 1982, Barbie was extradited to France, tried and convicted of crimes against humanity. His lawyer maliciously used the trial to accuse Raymond Aubrac of being the agent who had denounced Moulin, an accusation only finally declared false in the European Court of Human Rights in 2004. Barbie finally died of cancer in prison in 1991.

Courageously, Lucie Aubrac went to see Barbie personally and persuaded him that she had to marry Raymond (now Claude Ermelin) before he was executed because she was six months pregnant by him. Allowed to leave the Prison Montluc for the marriage Lucie organised an attack on prison wagon, killing five guards and rescuing Raymond and another ten resistance fighters.

After several months in hiding, on February 8 1944 the family arrived in London on one of the special planes that moved at night between France and England. Lucie gave birth to her daughter twelve days later.

Lucie Aubrac’s wartime exploits were made into a film in 1997

In October 1944 Aubrac was nominated to the Provisional Consultative Assembly as one of just 12 women out of 248 delegates. Based in Algiers from November 1943 to July 25 1944, after the liberation of France its second series of sessions were held at the Luxembourg Palace in Rue Vaugirard from November 7 1944 to August 3 1945.

Aubrac first staying on getting back to Paris with her two children at the Hotel Pont Royal in the Rue Montalembert. Her husband Raymond Aubrac was Commissioner in charge of Marseilles, stirring up opposition by requisitioning 15 collaborationist companies between September 10 and October 5 1944.

From January 1945 until the spring of 1946, the reunited family lived in a sequestered flat in Rue Marbeuf. At this time, Raymond, sacked for his left views as Marseille Commissioner, was now responsible for the national de-mining programme, while Lucie was active in the Consultative Assembly.

Aubrac immediately launched a weekly paper Privilèges des femmes to inform French women of their new rights. After 13 issues it folded, judged too communist by the socialists and not communist enough by the PCF.

From March to July 1945 she was editor of La Femme (Woman), the weekly paper of the Femmes de la Libération (FLN) before her proximity to the PCF saw her removed.

By December 1945 La Femme had stopped referring to the militancy of women in the resistance and was reinforcing a woman’s traditional role

From 1945 to 1947 Lucie Aubrac made several attempts to join the Communist Party – but despite the support of several leading Communists including André Marty each was rejected.

Despite this, In October 1946 she stood for election as a deputy in the SaôneetLoire department on the list of Communists, republicans and resistance fighters led by the Communist Waldeck-Rochet. She was only put in third place by the PCF, with only the first two getting enough votes to be elected as deputies.

Aubrac was still considered too ‘indisciplined’ and her first book about the resistance movement was considered to have not made enough about the role of the PCF. She was criticised for not submitting everything she wrote to the Party before publishing it.

In November 1946 she was resinstated as a teacher and given a post in the Lycée Jacques-Decour in Avenue Trudaine, where she worked for most of the next ten years. It was the only lycée in France renamed in honour of a resistant after the occupation.

Despite the PCF’s reticence about Lucie, her husband was an open supporter of many Communist policies. When Ho Chi Minh came to Paris to follow the negotiations with the government, he stayed at their new house and became god-father to their daughter Elisabeth.

Ho Chi Minh stayed with the Aubracs for six weeks in August and September 1946 while following the negotiations led by Pham Van Dong on the future of Indochina. He is photographed here with new baby Elisabeth and Lucie Aubrac by l’Humanité on September 16 1946.

Campaigning against France resuming its colonial policies in IndoChina and elsewhere, In 1948 Lucie and Raymond jointly founded Le Mouvement pour la Paix (Peace Movement).

Became a major anti-racist campaigner.

Lucie Aubrac in her 90s

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Marc Bloch

1886 – 1944 • France

Resistance Fighter • Historian

The son of a Jewish university lecturer in Roman history, Marc Bloch’s teenage years were spent under the shadow of the Dreyfus Affair. He did his higher secondary school studies at the prestigious lycée Louis-le-Grand in the rue St Jacques. Leaving top of the class he was accepted at the elite École normale supérieure in the Rue d’Ulm which he entered in 1904.

After two grants allowed him to study in Germany he taught at lycées in Montpellier and Amiens before being mobilised in 1914. Initially an infantry sergeant he was wounded but ended the war as a captain in intelligence with one of the 35,000 Legion of Honour decorations given for courage on the battlefield during the war as well as the Croix de Guerre.

In 1919 Bloch married Simonne Vidal. with whom he had six children, and was posted to the new university of Strasbourg. In 1929 Bloch, Lucien Febvre and André Piganiol founded the multidisciplinary historical journal Annales d’Histoire économique et sociale. This journal believed in ‘total history’, breaking with the silo mentality that had prevailed up to that point.

In 1936 Bloch secured a post at the Sorbonne, becoming Professor of Economic and Social History in 1938. From 1936 to 1939, Bloch lived in a flat above the Lutetia swimming pool at 17 Rue de Sèvres.

In 1939, aged 53, he volunteered to rejoin the army. He was appointed to undertake the mobiisation of soldiers in Strasboug, and then to work on logistics. He was evacuated from Dunkirk on May 31 1940, but immediately returned to France via Plymouth and Cherboug. When the Germans reached Normandy he made his way to rejoin his family at Le Bourg-d’Hem, where they had a holiday home.

France’s leading 20th century historian was then excluded from his Paris post In October 1940 as a Jew. The Germans requisitioned his flat and sent his library of books back to Germany under the law allowing them to do what they wanted with the Jewish property.

The Vichy Government’s new Secretary of State for Education, however, was an historian who had been taught by Boch’s father. Jérôme Carcopino decided to reappoint Bloch as a Professor ‘for exceptional scientific services to the French state’ and to post him to Strasbourg University in exile in Clermont-Ferrand. He therefore declined a job offer from the New School of Social Research in New York and moved to Clermont-Ferrand with his unwell wife and their children.

Early in 1941 Bloch was allowed to relocate to the University of Montpellier, where many other university lecturers were also now based. Bloch joined the intellectual resistance group that produced the underground papers Liberté and Combat.

With the occupation by the Germans of the southern zone on November 9 1942, Bloch moved into clandestinity. He quickly became a leading figure in the Lyon area Franc-Tireur movement. In preparation for the liberation in 1943 he was given the job of editing the resistance Political Notebooks.

Memorial to the 30 resistance fighters shot on June 16 1944 in Saint Didier de Formans, Ain. Marc Bloch’s name is fourth from the top of the left column. Four of those murdered were never identified.

Denounced by an informer he was arrested on March 8 1944 and then brutally tortured by Klaus Barbie among others without revealing any information. He was executed by the Germans with 29 other resistance fighters shortly after 8 pm in the evening of 16 June 1944. The youngest shot was 19, Bloch, aged 59, was the eldest.

In 1997 a small gap between redeveloped housing in a poor part of Paris was called ‘Place Marc Bloch’ to remember his name.

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Le Maitron


Geneviève De Gaulle-Anthonioz

1920 – 2002 • France

Human rights • Resistance Activist

Resistance activist and survivor of Ravensbruck she became a leading campaigner against poverty and was president of the ATD Charity from 1964 to 1998;

A commemorative plaque was placed at 4 rue Michelet on International Women’s Day.

On 27 May 2015 her empty coffin, along with those of Germaine Tillion, Jean Zay and Pierre Brossolette was placed in the Panthéon to honour four resistance fighters.

De-Gaulle Anthonioz was the first woman to be awareded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, Germaine Tillion was the second.

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Stéphane Hessel

1917 – 2013 • Germany

Human rights • Resistance

Stéphane Hessel lived in Paris from 1924 and was naturalised French in 1937.

A French and United Nations diplomat for 40 years, he was a founder of the socialist think-tank, the Jean-Moulin Club, close to Pierre Mendès France. Campaigner for the regularisation of migrant workers he joined the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in 2009 and his 2010 call for a ‘peaceful insurrection’ against liberalism sold half a million copies.

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Annie Kriegel

1926 – 1995 • France

Communism • Historian • Resistance • Anti-Communism

A resistant at 16 and then at 19 a member of the Communist Party, she moved to the right after 1956 and became the major anti-communist historian of the French Communist Party

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Waldeck Rochet

1905 – 1983 • France

Communist • Resistance

A Communist Party member from 1924 he was given political training in Moscow, and from 1934 he was one of the handful of PCF leaders. Elected deputy in 1936 he was jailed by Vichy and then in 1943 represented the PCF in London. From 1964 to 1969 he was General Secretary of the PCF. He reoriented the PCF towards a democratic road to socialism and criticised Russia for the invasion of Czechoslovakia and then fell ill in 1969 after a visit to the USSR.

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Louis Saillant

1910 – 1974 • France

Trade unionism • Resistance • World Federation of Trade Unions

One of 12 leading trade unionists who publicly opposed the dissolution of the trade unions in November 1940 and then joined the resistance, where he helped reunite the divided CGT. He represented the CGT on the National Resistance Council. In 1946 he became General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions, and kept the post until 1968 – an extraordinary feat for a non-Communist.

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Georges Séguy

1927 – 2016 • France

Trade unionismCommunism • Resistance

One of the less Stalinist CGT leaders of the post-war period, Georges Séguy, died aged 89 in 2016.

Among his experience as a life-long PCF member was attending the 1956 Russian Communist Party conference where Khruschev outlined Stalin’s crimes.

In 1968, as General Secretary of France’s then biggest trade union, the Communist-dominated CGT, he participated in the famous Grenelle negotiations in May 1968 whose agreements created an amazing advance in working class lives in France. But in failing to lead on to a revolution, his participation and not calling for a General Strike, made Séguy the object of much (unfair in my view) criticism from French Maoists and Trotskyists alike (and, to be fair, from many ordinary workers who believed still more could have been won).

Séguy’s father had been a founder member of the French Communist Party, and Georges was arrested as a member of the CP-led French Free Fighters and Partisan (FTPF) resistance at 17 years old in 1944 and deported to Mauthhausen in Austria. When he returned to France he identified the person who had denounced him, who was then tried and shot.

In 1978 he attempted to win over the CGT to form a united front with the formerly Catholic, then radical, CFDT union, but failed in the face of French CP opposition. He resigned aged 55 (the retirement age of the railwaymen he had been since 1946).

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Rue de l’Abbé de L’Epée

Arrondissement 5

Number 12

Named in 1846 after the priest Charles-Michel de L’Épée (1712-1789) who founded the Deaf and Dumb Institute (Institution des sourds-muets ).

No. 12 is where the command headquarters of the French resistance against the Luxembourg Palace and gardens was based in August 1944 under the leadership of Colonel Fabien, the alias of Pierre Georges. A very rare plaque naming a Communist is on the right of the entrance.

Military headquarters of Colonel Fabien in August 1944. A rare plaque actually naming a Communist.

On 21 August 1941 Georges, an International Brigade fighter in Spain from 1936 to 1939, then using the alias Frédo, was the first Young Communist to kill a German soldier during the occupation of Paris.

The attack was mounted at the Barbès–Rochechouart metro station after Hitler invaded Russia on June 22 1941 by a PCF member.


Rue Bréguet

Arrondissement 11

Number 2

Named after the Swiss-origin Abraham Breguet who first conceived of the wrist-watch and established a watch-making business in Paris, the street was opened in 1866.

With Paul Hauet (1866-1945), a retired colonel, Germaine Tillion reactivated
the National Association of Soldiers from the Colonies and set up office in the corner building at No. 2 in July 1940. There were around 69,000 prisoners of war originating in the French colonies at the time.

A letter from Commander Bouret, deputy General Secretary of the Assistance Committee for Black Soldiers, to Germaine Tillion asking for her to send on Koranic religious books to be taken by named visitors to two imprisoned soldiers

Officially they were simply sending parcels, letters or copies of the Koran to the prisoners, but in reality they worked organising a network initially to provide papers and clothers for escaping prisoners of war heading for the free zone in the South, and then in collecting information on German army movements.

By the autumn of 1940 Tillion and Hauet had made contact with the resistance group at the Musée de l’Homme. Tillion was finally the only survivor of that network.

Hauet, was finally arrested in January 1944 and deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, where he died in January 1945.


Rue Championnet

Arrondissement 18

Numbers 24, 36, 43

The central bus depot of the wartime Paris transport company was based here

Louise Michel and Mlle. Poulin taught a class for 60 students at No. 24 in what was formerly rue Oudot in 1868. The street’s name had just been changed under Napoleon III in 1867 to Championnet, the name used by one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s favourite generals, Jean Etienne Vachier, but it was still called Oudot by the locals and in Louise Michel’s memoirs.

The site of the school is now entirely occupied by a huge extension of the original Bus Depot at No 34 by the publicly-owned Paris Transport Company. To imagine the kind of building Michel taught at, it’s best to look at Number 36.

A modern RATP office block now sits on the site of the old bus depot, stretching down to include Louise Michel’s school

The Central Bus Depot of the then privately-owned Paris Region Transport company (STCRP) was based at No. 34 rue Championnet. Its huge factory workshop employed between two and three thousand workers – and as soon as this Germans occupied Paris its collaborationist employers jumped at the chance to become a major site for repairs to German armoured vehicles and lorries.

The maintenance factory was the first target for a bomb (that didn’t go off) chosen by the French Communist Party in the summer of 1941, when the PCF started military resistance to the German occupation. Throughout the war resistance members within the workshop sabotaged the vehicles whenever possible.

On 28 November 1941, No 43, this hotel requisitioned by the German army, today the Hotel du Midi, was attacked by the PCF’s Special Organisation and Youth Battalion killing three German soldiers.


Rue des Cloÿs

Arrondissement 18

Numbers 5, 17, 27

What a miserable sight to find this building at No. 5 on the location of the day school bought by Louise Michel’s mother in 1865.

By selling her last fields outside Paris, Louise Michel‘s mother was able to buy a day school business for her daughter in this street in 1865.

It was then a much longer Montmartre street, going as far as the Rue Championnet. Its name comes from a corruption of the old French word claye, meaning a grill that could be used to close access.

Today the road passes the Square Léon Serpollet, named after the man who built his first steam-powered tricyle at Number 27.

A Communist resistance printworks was operated clandestinely at Number 17 during the Second World War. This was where the first issue of France d’abord (France first)the news sheet of the  Communist-founded resistance movement FTP (Franc-tireurs et partisans (Sharp-shooters and patriots) was printed.


Rue de Rennes

Arrondissement 6

Numbers 61, 71, 128, 140b

Rue de Rennes viewed from the Montparnasse Tower

Opened only in the mid-19th century, the road’s name derives from its leading to the railway station, the Gare de Rennes (now renamed Paris-Montparnasse), whose trains traveled to Brittany.

Haussmann‘s original design was to extend it to the Seine, but because this would have involved knocking down the prestigious French Institute and creating a giant X at the eastern end of the île de la Cité it never happened. The road’s numbering thus only starts at 41 and 48 just south of the boulevard Saint-Germain. Its buildings mainly represent the classical Haussmann-Second Empire style, while No. 140b is attributed to Gaudi and Ausher in the Art nouveau style, and dated 1904.

During the Paris Commune the offices of one of the most successful daily newspapers, le Cri du Peuple , whose contributors included Gustave Courbet, were based at No. 61. It printed up to 100,000 copies and published 82 issues between 22 February and May 23 1871. Initially banned on March 11 it was reissued on March 21 and then continued daily until the ‘bloody week’ at the end of May.

18 issues appeared between 22 February 1871 and 12 March, when it was banned by the Army’s Commander in Chief in Paris, General Vinoy. Another 65 issues appeared from March 21.

Jules Vallès, its editor in 1871, returned from exile in 1880. The journal was given a new lease of life between 1883 and 1889 by Vallès and Séverine (Caroline Rémy), with Jules Guesde. One of its first articles describing students as ‘idot children of a rotten bourgeosie’ led to students demonstrating outside the offices.

In 1919 Simone de Beauvoir‘s family moved into No 71, a small sixth floor flat without a lift and without running water. She lived here until 1929.

There is no plaque in the street for her. But at No 128 there is one for Colonel Robert Fouré (1875-1945). He was retired after the June 22 1940 armistice and at the end of 1940 made contact with the new clandestine Socialist/SFIO resistance. This initially produced a Libération-Nord underground newspaper, and then in November 1941 it moved into organised resistance.

Between the end of 1943 and May 17 1944, Fouré was its military head. Arrested by the Gestapo he was deported to Buchenwald and died at its offshoot, the Mittelbau Dora concentration camp a few days after the arrival of US troops in April 1945.

A plaque commemorating one of the leaders of the clandestine SFIO resistance movement who lived at 128 rue de Rennes

Another plaque at the Art Nouveau No. 140bis rue de Rennes was laid by President
François Mitterrand to remember the seven killed and 55 wounded by a bomb planted in a dustbin outside the Tati shop there. This was the last, and the most dangerous, of the ‘Black September’ 14 bombings. These were claimed by a Lebanese Hezbollah-linked group aiming to secure the release of three of their jailed members and to stop France supporting Sadam Hussein in the Iraq invasion of Iran.


Avenue Trudaine

Arrondissement 9

Number 12

A broad tree-lined road just to the south of the Farmers’ general tax wall, it was opened by a royal decree in 1833, and named after an early 18th century peer of the realm who had a rare reputation for honesty in his post as Prévôt des marchands de Paris (Paris’ Prefect for Commerce, the equivalent of today’s Mayor of Paris).

Its most remarkable building is a huge, historic secondary school, the Collège-lycée Jacques-Decour, where Lucie Aubrac was nominated to teach in 1946.

The Collège-Lycée Jacques-Decour viewed from the North, with the Boulevard des Batignolles in front of it and the Avenue Trudaine on the other side.

The school was originally founded in the 15th century as the Sainte-Barbe college of Paris University. Its current building was moved there by Haussmann and constructed between 1867 and 1876 on the site of the old Montmartre abattoir.

The name was changed in 1944 from Rollin (the name of an 18th century historian) to Jacques Decour, the resistance pseudonym of Daniel Decourdemanche (1910-1942), who had taught German at the Lycée since 1937.

Decourdemanche had joined the Young Communists and then Communist Party. His first book called Philisterburg after teaching in 1932-33 in Germany denounced the risks of nationalism and racism.

He was 32 when he was shot in May 1942 after the French police who arrested him passed him over to the Germans for his role in the Association of Revolutionary Artists and Writers that had been headed by Louis Aragon.

Every year his goodbye letter to his parents is read in the school where his parting words were:

I consider myself a little like a leaf that falls from a tree to help become soil. The quality of the soil depends on that of the leaves. I am talking about French young people.

Daniel Decourdemanche’s headstone in Montmatre Cemetery


Avenue Victor Hugo

Arrondissement 16

Hugo above 124 avenue Victor Hugo

The house Victor Hugo lived in and died on 22 May 1885 (now on the site of No. 124) was demolished in 1907. Above the door of the building that replaces it is a mask of Hugo by the sculptor Faulquerau.



Quai Voltaire

Arrondissements 7

Number 29, 27, 7

In 1791 the owner of the huge house at No. 27, the Marquis de Villette, a gay friend of the enlightenment philosopher and writer who had died there in 1778 , renamed the street Quai Voltaire. Villette had supported the 1789 Revolution and renounced his nobility. Elected to the Convention in 1792, Charles Villette argued for the banishment of Louis XVI, but died of what was then described as ‘melancholia’ (langeur) aged 57 in July 1793.

Alongside the plaque on No. 27 remembering Voltaire is another recalling the meetings that took place there of the leaders of the national and local police groups of Résistance Libération-Nord. This was initially the name of a clandestine newspaper, established after SFIO and non-Communist CGT trade unionists signed the Declaration of Twelve opposing the Vichy regime and the dissolution of the trade unions on November 15 1940. It became a resistance organisation in November 1941 and in 1943 was one of the eight resistance movements represented on the National Resistance Council.

29, Quai Voltaire is where Daniel Stern (Marie d’Agoult) lived in the Hôtel de Mailly-Nesle after her 1839 breakup with Franz Liszt. She ran a republican literary salon there, and in 1844 Karl Marx used to attend.

No 7 Quai Voltaire is another well-plaqued house (three). It was the home of Hubert de Lagarde, founder and head of the Resistance Eleuthère network of the Forces Françaises Combattantes . A plaque tells how he was arrested by the Gestapo on June 15 1944. This was only a few days after he had protested against the appointment of a Communist to head up the now merged FFI (French Forces of the Interior). He was tortured and then deported to Buchenwald before dying of dysentery on January 25 1945.