The man of business who had made a fortune in large-scale distribution was a generous patron of the progressive left. He died at the age of 92.
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After that of Michel Rocard, the death of Henri Hermand, at the age of 92, in the night of 5 to 6 November, sounds like the additional sign of the end of a generation. The one that experienced the second world war, massive killings, and his difficult choices, between the accommodation totalitarianism and Resistance. Also was involved in the construction of Europe and to the consolidation of democracy through the press and the political. Finally yet gone out of business, has never really detached since the last engagement of Henry Hermand has been to pass the baton of his fight for a reformism of the left to Emmanuel Macron, ” young spiritual son “ such as in his nineties was called with affection, which he hoped would carry the hopes of the social-democracy.
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When we went to see this beautiful and elegant old man, in his offices near the Champs-Elysées, they were astonished to see it still so active in the political life and intellectual of the country. Rich of a fortune built in the great distribution, he continued to fund several think tanks of the left. in The Republic of ideas, chaired by Pierre Rosanvallon, and then Terranova, the ideas box of the PS, enjoyed his gifts. It was also the reference shareholder of the 1, the weekly founded by the former director of the World,, Eric Fottorino. He had finally helped Emmanuel Macron, personally, first, by a loan of 500,000 euros so that the young inspector of finance acquired its first parisian apartment, and then politically in housing recently in his offices the first activists of the'walk, the association, which is working today on the nomination of the former minister of the economy.
A reformism at the Pierre Mendès-France
The engagement of Henri Hermand dates back to the end of the second world war. Born July 11, 1924, he participated at the age of twenty years to a small group of resistant students, then it is in the preparatory class at the lycée Janson of Sailly, in the XVIe arrondissement of Paris. Its action is both minor and risky, but the wait-and-see of his father, a wholesale merchant of Clermont, the life narrow of this town and 85 km from Paris, to him, seem unbearable. At the end of the war, then he has missed the competition of the ecole Polytechnique, the here between as a physicist engineer at the atomic energy Commissariat (CEA). It is not a science in the soul, but, after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the CEA is at the forefront of all the debates on the division of Europe between East and West, and the hopes of a continent plunged into the cold war.
As of the years 50, Henri Hermand joined the intellectual circles of progressive and includes, in particular, the magazine Spirit. It was there that he met the founder of the World Hubert Beuve-Méry, but also Gilles Martinet, who will soon launch France Observer, and Emmanuel d Astier de la Vigerie, a former resistant and gaullist of the left. Like them, he is anti-colonial, humanist, and christian. During a trip in Poland, he discovered the reality of the satellite countries of the USSR, and has returned strongly anti-communist. His reformism will now be the one of Pierre Mendès-France. This is too much for the CEA, which holds to its neutrality and pushes Mr. Hermand to resign.
for nothing abandon its commitment – it commits to the PSU with Michel Rocard-Mr. Hermand is moving in a new professional career. This will be the great distribution, in full swing in this new consumer society that promises. CEO of the society of the supermarkets, it multiplies the large surface areas in the paris region, and soon in the whole of France, in black Africa and the Maghreb. Only Marseille resists. On the eve of the Congress of the socialist Party in Metz, which will see, in 1979, the line of François Mitterrand’s triumph of the one worn by his rival Michel Rocard, the mayor of Marseille Gaston Deferre has is the dam to the industrial operation of the rocardien Hermand.
It takes Emmanuel Macron under his wing
Now rich, this lover of modern art, uses his wealth to support the press and progressive candidates of the second left within the socialist Party. Michel Rocard owes a part of its funding, as many of the journals social-democrats, as well as the Morning of Paris, of which he became vice-presidency, during its acquisition by Max Théret Claude Perdriel.
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Ten years later, he spots a young khâgneux, a graduate of Sciences Po and ENA, Emmanuel Macron, while the latter performs his / her internship as a student with a high-ranking official at the prefecture of the Oise. He soon took under his wing, invites him on holiday to Tangiers, becomes his witness of marriage with Brigitte Trogneux, in 2007. the ” Emmanuel has never made a major decision without telling me about it “, he had entrusted to the World, a year ago. Alarmed by the unpopularity of president François Hollande, he was of those who hoped to see the former minister of the economy take over. And offered willingly to his visitors his memoirs, prefaced by Michel Rocard, six years earlier. He had given a title that said all of his optimism, in spite of the death that was approaching : The'ambition is not a dream.