Once upon a time
Politicians at Les Glières
Glières Plateau and Morette National Cemetery
Two highly-symbolic memorials for French presidents and politicians
In early 1944, Glières Plateau became the emblem of one of the most significant battles in the history of the French Resistance. In the mountains, at 1440 meters elevation, for two months in the middle of winter, 465 maquisards (resistance fighters), under the command of Tom Morel, fought valiantly during an assault by the Wehrmacht; 129 of them perished.
In August 1944, after several parachute drops, the future of the Haute-Savoie took a turn for the better when German forces capitulated. Through the sheer tenacity of the armed resistance movement, the department was the first French territory to free itself from occupation.
In April 1944, Morette became the first place to bury members of the Resistance following the fighting on Glières Plateau. On October 15, 1945, the city of Thônes became one of eighteen French cities awarded a medal for the Resistance.
In November 1944, General de Gaulle visited Morette to pay his respects. At the time, the cemetery had only eighty graves, all marked with wood crosses. He would later state, “Thanks to Glières, I had enough parachute drops for the Resistance.”
Three years later, in May 1947, the President of France, Vincent Auriol, made the trip to pay homage to the Resistance fighters and inaugurated the cemetery that, in 1984, would become the Nécropole Nationale des Glières (Glières National Cemetery).
Four months later, on September 19, 1947, General de Gaulle made his second visit to the area to honor the fallen.
In 1973, André Malraux, Minister of Culture at the time, inaugurated the National Resistance Monument that now stands on Glières Plateau. Sculptor Emile Gilioli designed the masterpiece.
In 1994, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Glières, President François Mitterand visited Morette National Cemetary and Glières Plateau. He stood in respectful silence in front of the monument erected to honor Liberty and Freedom.
General de Gaulle at Morette
In 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy, the day before the presidential elections, visited the cemetery and monument, and then returned in 2008 as President of France. He returned every year through 2011, demonstrating his high regard for this singular place.
On Sunday, March 31, 2019, as President of France, Emmanuel Macron attended the official ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Glières, just like François Mitterand had done twenty-five years earlier. Nicolas Sarkozy joined him, creating a unique moment where the current head of state and a former president commemorated the historic date on this hallowed ground together.
© DEP74 – L. Guette / Presidents Macron and Sarkozy on the 75th anniversary of Les Glières battles
- © Monica Dalmasso – Gilioli National Monument to the Resistance
Journalist: Gaëlle Tagliabue
Translation: Darin Reisman