"I was parachuted over Taizé"

“The trip was peaceful, except for a few minutes during which the plane circled amid the shrapnel from the Flak, the German air defense system. “ We are in 1944, on a hot night in August, and Philippe Akar is preparing to return to France. Like his men who are also waiting to jump, the young volunteer parachutist wonders how he will be received by his compatriots, two years after his departure for London. While waiting to tread on it, he contemplates this “Soil of France lit by the moon: large meadows cut by hedges, with poplars and willows, white roads, landscape of Charolais or Clunisois, familiar to me”.

He still sees himself preparing this parachuting that his leaders announced to him on the eve of the landing of Provence on August 15, 1944: “The objective was to prevent the Germans from retreating quietly towards the Côte d’Azur. “ He was first assigned the destination of Saint-Étienne, which he knows well. It was there, on the station platform, on November 8, 1942, that he bade farewell to his wife Joëlle and their little boy, with the desire to reach London via Gibraltar. “My wife was crying but she understood very well that I could no longer bear this situation: the maquis did not exist or barely existed. As for me, I did not lead much wider “, recognizes the former scout leader.

Finally, counter-order: with his men, Philippe Akar will jump in Saône-et-Loire. Immediately, he began to study the maps, found the reliefs he surveyed in 1940 when he commanded one of the French Youth Workshops created by Marshal Pétain. This time, it is no longer a question of forming called young people but of identifying all that“It will be necessary to cut: the railroads, the roads, the telephone wires”. On the plane, he has it all in mind. But, surprised by what he believes to be ground combat – in reality, the explosion of boxes of ammunition – the pilot begins a turn which catches him by surprise. He jumps “In deplorable conditions and (I know) demolish the portrait “, before finding refuge in the nearest farm. Much later, he will learn that he participated in the liberation of Montceau-les-Mines and Montchanin with “Six broken vertebrae”.

This converted Protestant (read sidebar) is therefore not in unknown territory. In 1941, a few years before the famous jump, with his wife, he lived in a tiny house in Cormatin. Anxious to have their first son baptized, both turned to the Protestant pastor of Mâcon. “It was quite a comedy to find a car and gas. He therefore advised us to contact a Protestant living in the village of Taizé and whom he had heard about. “ A Protestant named Roger Schutz, the future founder of the ecumenical community of Taizé. But that year, the two men failed each other: Roger Schutz, with his sister, welcomed Jewish refugees whom they helped to cross the Alps. When he gets on his horse to meet the future baptized child, no luck, he finds the door closed: the Akar family has gone on vacation.

It was therefore a few years later, in August 1948, that contact was finally made. After returning from vacation, Philippe and Joëlle decide to return to Cormatin to see again these landscapes where he had landed in 1944. He then climbs up the hill and meets the very young community of monks of Taizé and its founder. “It really hooked up with Roger and with his sister Geneviève”, he repeats without being able to describe very precisely what attracted him so much to the son of a Swiss pastor. The first religious of Taizé – there were eight of them – then took in around twenty children in difficulty entrusted to them by the prefect. They still hesitated about the form of their community, which wanted to be open to dialogue between Christians (Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox), and wondered which model to choose. Philippe remembers : “The idea of ​​taking religious vows was not at all in vogue in Protestantism because Luther said that commitments restrict freedom. I told them very simply about my experience as a husband: after all, when you enter into marriage, it is also for life. I don’t know if I helped them but I remember this very free conversation. “ From now on, the summer vacation program will remain unchanged: a week with the family, a week in the vicinity of Taizé. Before, one fine day, the telephone rings in Paris and Brother Roger announces to them that a house is for sale in the neighboring village. “It would be nice if you bought it”, he slips them. Today, Philippe, the young centenarian with intact liveliness, still lives a few hundred meters from the community …


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