Gilbert Dru (1920-1944)

Gilbert Dru

[Born March 2, 1920 in Lyon (VIIe arr.), gunned down on July 27, 1944 in Lyon (IIe arr.); responsible for the university Jeunesse étudiante chrétienne (JEC), secretary of the Cahiers de notre jeunesse; organizer of young resistants in the South-East and of the Comité de coordination d’action chrétienne.]

Son of a Catholic employee, Gilbert Dru was a fellow student and friend of Jean-Marie Domenach, at the Jesuit college then in khâgne at the Lycée du Parc in Lyon in 1938-1939 and then at the Faculty of Letters. Militant JÉCiste, early on he associated his religious fervor with a political conviction for justice and peace, and as a result opposed fascism. Mobilized in June 1940, then enlisted in the Chantiers de la jeunesse, he joined the faculty in the spring of 1941. There he created a, Amicale des lettres for cultural, mutual aid, information, and debate activities, and was elected to the bureau de l’Association générale des étudiants de Lyon (AGEL). He contributed to the Cahiers de notre jeunesse created by the ACJF of the Southern Zone (June 1941) to counter the influence of Nazism and Vichyist resignation, he was the editorial secretary, then the general secretary up until their ban in June 1943. Marked by the thought of Emmanuel Mounier and the historian Joseph Hours, he became friends with the guides of the spiritual resistance in Lyon: Stanislas Fumet, Henri-Irénée Marrou, Jean Lacroix, André Mandouze and the Jesuits Pierre Chaillet, Henri Chambre and Henri de Lubac; he clandestinely distributed the Cahiers du Témoignage chrétien

Militant in the inter-university Committee for the refusal of the Service du travail obligatoire (STO) and the support for the maquis, he proved to be a methodical and enterprising  organizer. Engaged to Denise Jouve, a brilliant university student, he suspended his studies to dedicate himself to a double task: the active presence of young Christians in the resistance and political initiative, for a new movement which would prolong the Resistance in revolutionary action, by making room for the youth and by associating Christians and militants of the left. He composed the manifesto which he had approved by his Lyonnaise friends and by Rémi Montagne, resistant leader of the ACJF who introduced it in October 1943 to Georges Bidault’s Christian Democratic team. Henceforth clandestine, busy organizing with Jean Gillibert the Équipes chrétiennes (militants of the ’ACJF engaged in the Résistance), he also outlined in Lyon an autonomous “Movement” based on his manifesto to train young political militants. He planned on expanding it, with elders (Roger Radisson and the syndicalist Maurice Guérin) beyond the Christian milieu, and to influence the national political movement (future MRP) in preparation in Paris around Georges Bidault and André Colin.

However, they were betting on the Catholic electorate, while he aspired for a large “republican gathering” between the right and the communists. In April 1944, the disagreement became clear and Dru, regaining his independence, developed with his friend Francis Chirat his network of young Christian resistants of the South-East to prepare the liberation and its consequences (“Nouvelles équipes politiques”). He created in Lyon the Comité de coordination d’action chrétienne (CCAC), headed by Guérin surrounded by Chirat and Radisson. He ensured the representation of Christians in the regional organs of the unified Resistance; comités de la Libération and FUJP (Front uni de la jeunesse patriotique). Dru prepared with Guérin the creation in Lyon of a daily paper (La Liberté) and had Joseph Hours give clandestine courses on political formation for young militants. 

Arrested on July 17, carrying revealing documents, Gilbert Dru and Francis Chirat were detained in the Montluc prison and interrogated under torture. Held as “leaders of the Christian resistance”, they were slaughtered with three others detainees on July 27, at noon, [at] Bellecour square, in retaliation for an attack against German troops. On August 1, the religious funeral for these two friends gathered together a numerous crowd.

Aragon, learning that Dru loved his poems, and that he carried with him an anthology, decided to add him alongside Guy Môquet to the dedication of « La rose et le réséda ». Gilbert Dru received the Légion d’honneur and the Croix de guerre with the silver star; his name was added to a street in Lyon and at the college built in 2005 near Montluc.

[SOURCES : Arch. com. Lyon, fonds Gilbert Dru. – Renée Bédarida, Les armes de l’esprit. Témoignage chrétien, 1941-1944, Éd. Ouvrières, 1977. – Bernard Comte, Jean-Marie Domenach, Christian et Denise Rendu, Gilbert Dru, un chrétien résistant, Beauchesne, 1998. – André Mandouze, Mémoires d’outre-siècle, t. 1, D’une Résistance à l’autre, Éd. Viviane Hamy, 1998. – Stanislas Fumet, Histoire de Dieu dans ma vie. Souvenirs choisis, Le Cerf, 2002. – État civil, Lyon.]

[https://maitron.fr/spip.php?article23005, notice DRU Gilbert, Marie, Noël par Bernard Comte, version mise en ligne le 4 décembre 2014, dernière modification le 12 mars 2020.] < — (Original)