In November 2007, the Paris Council decided to name this crossroads after Jacques Pâris de Bollardière, a General who bravely opposed torture and became an advocate of non-violence.
As a former student of the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr and an officer in the French army, Jacques Pâris de Bollardière (1907-1986) joined the Free French Forces during the Second World War and participated in the African campaigns and in the fights in France. He was made Companion of the Liberation by Charles de Gaulle in 1941 and was one of the most decorated Frenchmen during the Second World War.
He then took part in the Indochina war and in the Algerian war from 1956. However, he refused to use means that had been those of the Nazis he had fought against; therefore, he opposed the French army methods and torture in particular. In March 1957, he decided to provide his support to Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, director of L’Express magazine, who had just published several articles condemning the use of torture by the French army. He was immediately sentenced to 60 days of confinement in a military jail, for “he touched upon the honour of the troops he commanded”. He quit the army in 1961, retrained in social economy and became the President of an organisation called Housing and Social Advancement.
In 1970, together with his wife Simone, he decided to join the non-violent action after listening to a lecture by Jean-Marie Muller. He became one of the founding members of the Movement for a Non-Violent Alternative (MAN). He replied to General Massu who was standing for torture in Algeria in his book The Battle of Algiers, Battle of Man (1972), saying that “the expression « human dignity » is neither abstracted nor hollow. It should not be sacrificed for any fight, any cause. […] We need to claim that no end justifies torture as means”.
Jacques Pâris de Bollardière was also in Larzac in 1973 alongside peasants who were fighting against the extension of the military camp, as well as on a boat off the coast of the Mururoa Atoll with Jean Toulat, Jean-Marie Muller and Brice Lalonde to protest against the nuclear tests done by France in Polynesia. As a committed Christian, he has become the “companion” of every single liberation.
However, it is too bad that the plaque paying tribute to him at the crossroads only mentions his designation of General and Companion of the Liberation and says nothing about his fight against torture and his commitment to non-violence.