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Liberation Cross

The Cross of Lorraine has appeared on various flags and medals. One in particular order instituted by General de Gaulle was the Ordre de la Libération; a medal awarded for "Very meritorious conduct with the Free French Forces" between 1941 and 1946.

Liberation Cross

Liberation Cross
Free French flag
Cross of Lorraine superimposed on French flag. Banner for Free French Forces in WW II

The word 'liberate' is from the Latin liberare, meaning to 'set free'. In the 1940s, this took on a special meaning for those fighting to free their occupied country. This particular cross was adopted by the French who were fighting to reclaim control of the country from Germany in World War Two.

It consists of a prominent "V" (for victory) and the ancient Cross of Lorraine, Lorraine being an area where intense fighting took place and at times regarded as the 'front line'.

Lorraine was annexed by Germany also in WW I, and when Hitler took control of the region in WW II, France's General de Gaulle chose the Croix de liberation (Cross of liberation) as a symbol of resistance against the German advance. Only 1,061 medals were awarded (260 posthumously) and undoubtedly it was earned by many more undercover heroes who sacrificed their lives for their homeland.

Liberation Cross

On the right we see an armband printing machine built by Henry Rondeaux. (This was donated by the Epernay FFI Association to the Museum of the Order of the Liberation, Paris). Obviously undercover operators would not wear these or any other form of identification, but they were produced for supporters to wear whenever it was considered safe to do so.

There were several French Resistance groups, and de Gaulle's was called the Forces Francaises Libres (Free French Forces). The cross then also became known as the Free French Cross, the de Gaulle Cross or the Gaullist Cross.

Liberation Cross
FFF ring
(Click photo to enlarge)

A similar pendant is shown on the left and on the right is an old pewter ring unearthed in France, at a farm just outside Melun, about 50 km SE of central Paris.

The FFF remain heroes in the hearts of French people. And for everybody; French, German, whatever nationality we happen to be, there is one very special cross to liberate our souls.

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