Henri Rol-Tanguy (12 June 1908 – 8 September 2002) was a French communist and a leader in the French Resistance during World War II.[1][2] At his death The New York Times called him "one of France's most decorated Resistance heroes".[3]

Henri Rol-Tanguy
Colonel Rol-Tanguy (left) and General Leclerc at the surrender of the German garrison in Paris (a contemporary postcard)
Colonel Rol-Tanguy (left) and General Leclerc at the surrender of the German garrison in Paris (a contemporary postcard)
Morlaix, Brittany
DiedSeptember 8, 2002(2002-09-08) (aged 94)
Spouse(s)Cécile Le Bihan


Henri Tanguy was born on 12 June 1908 in Morlaix, Brittany to a family of a sailor.[2][3][4] Aged 14, he moved to Paris to work as a foundryman. In 1925, he joined the Young Communists and ended up as a secretary. He did his military service in 1929 with the 8th Régiment de Zouaves in Oran, Algeria; on his return, he became an activist with the local metal workers union.

At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1937, Tanguy joined the International Brigades to fight for Spanish Republic.[2][3][5] He was political commissar of the André Marty Battalion (made up of Franco-Belgian volunteers) which was part of the XIV International Brigade. He was wounded in the Battle of the Ebro in 1938. After the war, he returned to France.

At the outbreak of World War II, Tanguy was conscripted into the French Army.[2][3] After the surrender, he went underground with his wife Cécile Le Bihan. He became one of the leaders of communist resistance in Paris and organized a group that became Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Tanguy used a nom de guerre of "Colonel Rol", after a close friend who had died in Spain.

In June 1944, Tanguy took command of the French Forces of the Interior in the Île-de-France.[2][3] When Allied armies approached Paris, these forces took part in the liberation of Paris.

After five days of fighting, German General Dietrich von Choltitz notified Colonel Rol that he was ready to negotiate. Alongside Free French general Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, Tanguy accepted and signed the act of surrender on 25 August, 1944.[2][3] Like many resistance members, Tanguy later added his wartime pseudonym to his official name and became Rol-Tanguy.

avenue du Colonel-Henri-Rol-Tanguy

Rol-Tanguy joined the French 1st Army of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny and served during the battles in Germany.[3] After the war, he received the Croix de Guerre, the Médaille de la Résistance and the Ordre de la Libération. He remained in the French army with a permanent commission until 1962.

After his army career, Rol-Tanguy joined the central committee of the French Communist Party where he remained until 1987.[2][3] He lived in the department of Loir-et-Cher. In 1994, he received the Grand Croix de la Légion d'honneur and, in 1996, received an honorary citizenship from Spain for his part in the International Brigades.

Henri Rol-Tanguy died on 8 September 2002, and received a salutation in the Invalides from Jacques Chirac, the recently re-elected President of France.[2][6]

In 2004 he was commemorated at Place Denfert-Rochereau, in Paris, with a plaque, and the metro station there was sub-titled Colonel Rol-Tanguy.


  1. ^ Roger Bourderon (2017). "Rol-Tanguy: International Brigades at the liberation of Paris" [Rol-Tanguy: International Brigades at the liberation of Paris] (in French). Tallandier. ISBN 9791021027831. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Marie-Aude Bonniel (2017-09-07). "Henri Rol-Tanguy : une vie d'engagements contre les fascismes" [Henri Rol-Tanguy: a life of engagements against fascism]. le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Alan Riding (2002-09-02). "Henri Rol-Tanguy, French Resistance Figure, Dies at 94". The New York Times. p. c00012. Retrieved 2019-06-23. Mr. Rol-Tanguy, a lifelong Communist, emerged as the leader of the Communist-led Francs-Tireurs et Partisans, or Snipers and Partisans, in the Paris region after other Resistance figures had been arrested and shot. Working from a base in the catacombs of Paris, he called on Parisians to take up arms against the occupiers one week before the liberation of Paris, on Aug. 25, 1944.
  4. ^ "Fonds Henri Rol-Tanguy (1908-2002)". Archives of France. Retrieved 2019-06-23.
  5. ^ Claude Pennetier. "HEMMEN Jean, Baptiste". Retrieved 2019-06-23. En fait, selon son fils, c’est une grave blessure par balle à la poitrine qui explique son retour. Henry Tanguy (Rol-Tanguy) lui succéda.
  6. ^ "Obituary - Daily Telegraph (UK)". Archived from the original on 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2020-01-12.

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