Marcel Langer



Born in Szezecin, Poland on May 13th 1903 in a modest Jewish family, Marcel (Mendel) Langer knows already as a child the anti-Semitic persecutions.

The family emigrates to Palestine. His elder brother becomes an activist in the Sionist movement, Marcel rather joins the Palestinian communist party. Arrested, imprisoned by the British, then he comes to France. In Paris, then in Toulouse in 1930 where he works as a milling machine operator. Communist militant, he joins a section of the M.O.I. (Immigrate Workers) organization then founded inside the C.G.T.U. to gather the immigrate workers.

 In 1936, he engages himself in Spain in the International Brigades. First in a Polish brigade, then in the 35th machine gunners division where he became lieutenant, after a stay in the Albacete’s headquarter. He marries a Spanish girl, Cecilia Molina, but the defeat of the Spanish Republicans will separate him from his wife and little daughter.

 He returns to France. Inmate in the Argeles and Gurs camps, he escapes and comes back to Toulouse. Metal worker again, he joins back his former comrade in the MOI now underground…

PHOTO Marcel Langer


In Toulouse, the presence of many foreigners, in particular Spanish refugees quickens the consciousness of the need to switch to action. The militants mobilise to organize the welcome of the refugees in exile. Very early, escape paths are put in place in order to protect men and women threatened, a common solidarity bring together the victims of fascisms… With the occupation by the Germans of the South zone on November 11th 1942, the MOI becomes a military resistance movement affiliated to the FTP (Franc-Tireurs Partisans). Marcel Langer becomes the first leader of the 35th brigade in the Toulouse area, so named in memory of the 35th division (International Brigades in Spain)…

The FTP-MOI of the Toulouse area multiplies urban guerrilla actions: destruction of communication axes like the railways or the Midi Canal, sabotage of electric poles, individual assassination attempts against German soldiers in cinemas and restaurants. But also destruction of barns and crops to counter the requisitions of the enemy…

On February 5th 1943 he is arrested in the St Agnes train station in Toulouse, while he is receiving a suite case filled with explosive carried by a youn partisan girl coming from Ariège. Hardly questioned, beaten, hanged by it’s feet, tortured by ducking, he gives no information on the origin and destination of the explosives. During the trial by the Vichy authorities, the prosecutor Lespinasse requires the death punishment after a scandalous severe requisition against the origin and engagement of the accused man, and of submission to the German occupant. He insists on the necessity to punish this “country less” in order to avoid the arresting of hostages by the Nazis: “you are jewish, foreigner, communist three reasons for me to request your head…” declares the prosecutor. The combat brother of Langer will get the revenge and execute this prosecutor on October 10th 1943. Vichy remains deaf to the request of pardon from the advocate. Marcel Langer is guillotined on July 23rd 1943 at 5:30am, at the Saint Michel prison in Toulouse.

He dies with an exemplary courage. Walking out from the jail he cries: « Vive la France! Down with the “boches”! Vive le parti Communiste! » He refuses the help of religion notices the execution record. At the moment of the execution the other prisoners in the next cells chanted the Marseillaise…

“Marcel Langer is the exemplary representative of those fighters who dedicated their life to the defence of liberties threaten by fascism” underlines the historian Rolande Trempé in introduction of the biography of the combatant. The 35th Brigade became the Marcel Langer Brigade as an homage and to render him justice but also as a sign that his will to fight against fascism and to beat it was the very expression of the soul of the group he coached for a while.

Extract from an article published in the newspaper « L'Humanité » December 21st 2004 under the title: “A la mémoire de Marcel Langer, héros antifasciste” and “Une vie” by Rolande Trempé Historian. University of History Le Mirail, Toulouse