Smuggler, resistance fighter, deported… Roger Cuenot honored by his commune of Doubs 80 years after the Liberation

Smuggler, resistance fighter, deported… Roger Cuenot honored by his commune of Doubs 80 years after the Liberation
Smuggler, resistance fighter, deported… Roger Cuenot honored by his commune of Doubs 80 years after the Liberation

For the first time, the memory of the resistance fighter and smuggler Roger Cuenot is honored in his native village of Doubs, La Chenalotte on the occasion of the celebrations of the Liberation of France on May 8, 1945.

A name, a date, a place, engraved on a marble plaque of the war memorial. Until this tribute paid on May 8, 2024, few residents of this Doubs commune located near Morteau knew the life of this local child, Roger Cuenot.

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Tribute to Roger Cuenot in his native village of Chenalotte

© Guillaume Soudat – France Tv

A life sacrificed to free France from the Nazi yoke. 80 years after May 8, 1945, the municipality of his native village, La Chenalotte, Le Souvenir français and the association of veterans of the five villages wanted to recall the risks taken by this resident during the Occupation. More than a hundred people attended this tribute which is part of the memorial cycle dedicated to the smugglers of the Val de Morteau.

Death in deportation

The resistance fighter and smuggler to neighboring Switzerland Roger Cuenot paid a high price for his commitment. Roger Cuenot was arrested at his home in Besançon on March 17, 1943 by the security police. His wife is there, she is expecting their second child. After several months spent in French prisons, the resistance fighter was deported to Germany. He died at the Dora camp on December 29, 1944. Roger Cuenot was 34 years old, he was married and the father of two children.

One of his grandchildren came to attend the remembrance ceremony in his grandfather’s native village. Céline Cuenot knew that her ancestor had been a resistance fighter, but she did not know his story in detail; her grandmother spoke very little about it. This is what she told our journalists Eléa Nguyen Van-Ky and Guillaume Soudat. And yet, the life of Roger Cuenot is exemplary.

This impresses me. I was surprised to see all these people. This is the first time I’ve come to a commemoration. I think I’ll come more often now that I know they’re doing something at Chenalotte.

Céline Cuenot, granddaughter of Roger Cuenot

It is thanks to the research of Jean-Michel Blanchot of Souvenir Français, the historian Laurent Thierry and the mayor of the town Dimitri Coulouvrat (SE) that we better know the journey of this resistance fighter and smuggler. A story recounted in a brochure which has just been published.

From now on, a new plaque on the war memorial is more precise:

In memory of Roger Cuenot, resistance fighter, smuggler, member of the AGIR network, died during deportation in the Dora camp on December 29, 1944.

The brochure tells us more. After a childhood spent in the village of Chenalotte, Roger became a butcher, he married in Morteau and started a family. Mobilized to fight in the Second World War, Roger was taken prisoner in January 1940. He fell ill in captivity and was released. His state of health did not prevent him from joining the Resistance. Roger grew up in the Val de Morteau, he knows the area well. He becomes a smuggler.

For 20 months, Roger Cuenot will be part of this group of resistance fighters who smuggle men, women and strategic information to Switzerland. They are called the smugglers of the Val de Morteau.

Also read ► “He walked on the barbed wire to leave no trace on the border: who was Michel Hollard, this unsung resistance hero of the Second World War

On October 15, 2022, a stele was inaugurated in the middle of the forest on the heights of Grand’Combe-Châteleu. On the stone, 13 names are engraved. All paid with their lives for their commitment to liberate France. They were shot, executed or died in deportation. Roger Cuenot is one of them. Like his comrades, he was part of the AGIR network set up by Michel Hollard.

At that time, the border with Switzerland was particularly monitored by the occupier. “The Val de Morteau is an integral part of the so-called prohibited zone which extends more or less from the Ardennes to Switzerland” specifies the text of the brochure. The passage of military intelligence is strategic. Around twenty Franche-Comté residents were part of this AGIR network. Lieutenant-Colonel Hollard specified that Roger Cuenot had been a liaison officer for his network since July 1941.

The tribute to Roger Cuenot is one of the stages of the memorial cycle dedicated to the smugglers of the Val de Morteau organized from May 7 until June 1, 2024. Conferences by historians, field visits, interventions in the schools are planned. To not forget.

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