The last surviving French resistance fighter to be deported during World War Two has died at the age of 96, less than a year after being awarded the ‘Medaille de Reconnaissance de la Nation’.
Jacques Bergez, who lived in Gouvieux (Oise) was deported to Buchenwald from Picardy in 1944 at the age of 18 after being arrested by German police and accused of resistance actions.
He was later tortured by the Gestapo and transferred to transit camp Royallieu in Compiègne for a month, before being taken to do hard labour in Buchenwald.
In 2020, when he was 94, his name was added to the list of 48,000 names on the memorial to the deported and prisoners at Compiègne.
At the time, in an interview with France 3, he said: “It's very moving to see your name on a wall like that, and it reminds me of everything I experienced before, during, and after my captivity in Royallieu.”
Mr Bergez said that his time in Royallieu was almost like a “break” between the interrogations by the Gestapo and his transfer to Buchenwald.
He said: "For those of us who had been shot at by the Gestapo, it was like living in a chateau, to put it colloquially. It was a haven of peace, of recovery. When we arrived, there were no more Germans, you couldn't see them, they were in the watchtowers.
“No more beatings, they didn't come looking for you unexpectedly to handcuff you, take you to the Gestapo, or smash your face to get information. Here, we were quiet. We didn't work.”
REMISE DE LA MEDAILLE DE LA RECONNAISSANCE DE LA NATION A JACQUES BERGEZ— Patrice Marchand (@PM_Marchand_) November 14, 2021
Jacques Bergez est entré dans la résistance à 17 ans.
Le 15 décembre 1943, il a été arrêté par la police française, sur dénonciation, puis relâché faute de preuve. #11Novembre pic.twitter.com/UK3Dv53uK7
In 2021, Mr Bergez was awarded the Medaille de Reconnaissance de la Nation (Medal of the Nation's Gratitude) by the mayor of Gouvieux.
The medal is awarded to civilians, veterans, or armed forces members who have been recognised as performing an honourable service to France.
Mr Bergez is confirmed to have passed away on October 16, 2022.