He was a member of the prefectorial body. His Mediterranean origins led him to make, before the Second World war, several stays on the French Riviera. The light and the spectacular landscapes he saw contributed in his giving birth to graphic and pictorial paintings he signed Romanin. Prefect of Eure-et-Loir during the German invasion, Jean Moulin stayed in his post in Chartres, working a lot in order to relieve the sufferings of his administered and maintain an administrative presence in front of the Occupants who tried to humiliate him, provoking an attempt of suicide. Revoked by Vichy on November 2, 1940, he took refuge in the free zone and went underground in the Alpes-Maritimes. Thanks to Frédéric Manhès, he obtained in February, 1941, a passport delivered by the sub-prefecture of Grasse under the name of Joseph Mercier (born in Péronne on July 20, 1896, professor at the international Institute of New York, living on the 5-th Avenue n° 20), which allowed him to reach Lisbon, then London in October, 1941, after having met the responsibles of the movements Combat, Liberation and Franc tireur. Charged by general de Gaulle to unify the movements of resistance, he was parachuted in the Alpilles on January 1-st, 1942. The mission drove him a dozen times in the Alpes-Maritimes, where he met notably Elie Lévy, René Lefebvre and Alex Roubert* from Libération, Raymond Comboul* and Marcel Degliame from Combat, Marcel Guizard from Front national and Jean Guiraud from PCF, contributing to the writing together of two pamphlets in November, 1942 and January, 1943, calling up to the strike against the mobilization of hand workers by the Nazis and to the gathering behind general de Gaulle. In the end of September 1942, he tempted from Antibes to reach London in submarine with Jules Moch and Yvon Morandat. After this episode, he opened a picture gallery in Nice, at 22 rue de France, which was inaugurated in February 1943 in the presence of the prefect. The Romanin gallery, on the cymas of which were hung the paintings of Max's personal collection, was managed by his friend Colette Pons and served as "cover" to his secret activities; The apartment situated above it received many representatives of free France, of MUR or CNR (password " Rex's key ") until he was arrested in Caluire on June 21, 1943. His ashes were transferred to the Pantheon on December 19, 1964. A plaque on the facade of the former gallery Romanin, five steles (in Antibes, Cannes, Nice, La Trinité, Villeneuve-Loubet) and about fifteen toponymical sites remind his stay and his sacrifice (schools in Antibes, Breil sur Roya and Carros, lecture hall 61(Nice university of Letters), place in Nice, La Roquette sur Var, La Trinité, Villeneuve-Loubet, esplanade in Antibes and in Cannes, crossroad in Vence, alley in Grasse, avenue in Drap and Vallauris, boulevard in Cannet-Rocheville, street in Cagnes sur Mer and Menton, public garden in St Laurent du Var).

Pons-Dreyfus Colette : La galerie Romanin, Nice-Matin, 29 août 1972
Panicacci Jean-Louis : La Résistance azuréenne, Serre Éditeur, Nice, 1994.

Jean-Louis PANICACCI

 

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