Who are the few women who have already entered the Pantheon? While the singer / resistance / artist Joséphine Baker enters the Pantheon on November 30, France Bleu takes stock.

“Great men the grateful country.” The sentence is written on the pediment of the Pantheon. Inside, more than 80 men are celebrated. And only five women, soon six, if we count Joséphine Baker, who enters on November 30, 2021. The building will house a cenotaph (that is to say an empty tomb) marked with a plaque, but the body of the Franco -american will remain buried in Monaco. The singer, resistant, activist for civil rights in the United States, mother of a rainbow tribe established in the Dordogne will join five exceptional women. It is only very recently that women have really entered this place which, since the French Revolution, has welcomed great figures who have marked history.

It represents an exception, almost an accident. Because the first woman to enter the Pantheon is a “wife of”, mother of six children. Marcellin Berthelot’s wife. She died a few hours before her husband. And the chemist and politician had expressly asked not to be separated from his wife, Sophie. Aristide Briand, then minister, will say of her at the time of the national funeral: “Mme Berthelot had all the rare qualities which allow a beautiful, gracious, gentle, amiable and cultivated woman to be associated with concerns, dreams and work. of a man of genius. “

Polish, naturalized French after her marriage, she is the first woman to really join the “Great Men”, for her work. 60 years after his death, François Mitterrand decides to transfer his ashes, and those of her husband, Pierre, both Nobel Prize winners in physics (1903) and chemistry (1911). She is also the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, the only one still to have won two. The first, she shares it with her husband and Henri Becquerel for their work on radiation. The second, she receives it for her research on polonium and radium.

The two women have fairly similar profiles and they were friends, they met at the Ravensbrück camp, during World War II. Both were deported because they were resistant. Germaine Tillon is an ethnologist, and notably worked on Algeria and the Aurès region in the 1930s, before joining the resistance. “At the end of my journey I realize how fragile and malleable man is. Nothing is ever taken for granted. Our duty of vigilance must be absolute. Evil can return at any time, it smolders everywhere and we must act in moment when there is still time to prevent the worst, ”she said, a little before dying, fearing a return of Nazism.

Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz is the niece of General de Gaulle. Student then resistant, she will commit to the fight against poverty on her return from the camps. She was notably president of the French branch of ATD Fourth World from 1964 to 1998. In 2015, empty coffins containing only a little earth taken from around their tomb entered the Pantheon. During this ceremony, chaired by François Hollande, two other resistance fighters will also be pantheonized, Jean Zay and Pierre Brossolette.

On July 1, 2018, her husband’s Simone Veil coffins entered the sanctuary in the 6th arrondissement. Born Simone Jacob, she was deported during World War II at the age of 16 to the Auschwitz camp. Rescued, she embarked on studies of law and political science, entered the judiciary and became Minister of Health under Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in 1974. She gave her name to the law decriminalizing voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG ). A convinced European, and champion of Franco-German reconciliation, she will also be President of the European Parliament.

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