Marcel Langer: Resistant Hero’s Unforgettable Stand

“ He is a Jew, a foreigner, a communist, here are three good reasons to pronounce the death penalty ”. These abominable words were not spoken by an SS man or an extreme right writer during the collaboration but by the most eminent representative of the public ministry in Toulouse at that time, the prosecutor Pierre Lespinasse. The magistrate, supposed to be guided by republican values and the principles of justice, is the executioner of Marcel Langer, hero of the local Resistance. Yesterday morning, about twenty people, keen on contemporary history, walked through the streets of Toulouse reliving the last months of the existence of the Polish leader of Brigade 35. This secret organization brought together resolutely anti-fascist foreign resistance fighters.
The circuit started at the SNCF Saint Agne station (place of arrest of Marcel Langer on February 6, 1943 Editor’s note). “ It was not a denunciation but an unfortunate combination of circumstances. For lack of sufficient manpower, the head of the brigade is obliged to recover himself a suitcase of explosives which arrives from the Hautes-Pyrénées by the train from Tarbes, it is revealing of the few militants that there are, at this time. He’s on the station platform, it’s around 7 p.m.

Tortured by the police

A peacekeeper is there who spots him thinking that it is a black market ”, relates Elerika Leroy, historian of the Departmental Museum of Resistance and Deportation. This specialist in the Second World War animated with her colleague Gaétan Blosse this outing on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the execution of Marcel Langer (July 23, 1943). The duo of historians stopped at Place du Salin in front of the Court of Appeal to discuss at length the trial of this Polish Jew who fled the pogroms and had joined the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. For Elerika Leroy, Marcel Langer had no chance of escaping the death penalty : “ The Germans had let the Toulouse justice act considering that it was doing its job very well. He was tortured by French police before being tried in a hearing that lasted a single day. Not for having committed or fomented attacks but for possessing explosives… ” The Toulouse magistrates were not completely ridiculed. The debates were led with a bang by the president of the court but the lawyer of the resistance fighter, a brilliant criminal defender brilliantly defended his client. “ It was Marcel Langer who chose him. They were, however, poles apart politically. This lawyer was a royalist and a member of the French action, but his political convictions should not have altered his pugnacity to defend the head of brigade 35. The young father was however guillotined after a few months in Saint-Michel prison, “says the guide.

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