Stephane Hessel, a former spy for the French resistance, who also authored Time for Outrage, died at the age of 95.
Hessel was also a diplomat who helped write the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The author, born in Germany, died overnight.
He and his parent immigrated to France in 1924, then he fled to London to join the resistance led by Charles de Gaulle in 1941, reports The Washington Post.
He was arrested by the Gestapo during a spy mission in 1944 and was sentenced to death at the Nazi’s Buchenwald concentration camp.
The day before Hessel was to be executed, however, he swapped identities with a man who had died of typhus. He later became a French diplomat and was on a panel that included former US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
The panel wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe stated of the author and resistance fighter:
“[Hessel] leaves us with the invaluable heritage of fighting for universal human values and his inalienable sense of liberty.”
BBC notes that Stephane Hessel’s book, Time for Outrage, called for a new form of “resistance” to the injustices of modern societies. He expressed his frustration with France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, damage to the environment, and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
France’s President Francois Hollande also spoke about Hessel’s death, saying:
“His capacity for indignation knew no bounds other than those of his own life. As that comes to an end, he leaves us a lesson: to refuse to accept any injustice.”
Hessel’s book has sold more than 4.5 million copies in 35 countries. Hessel gave his thoughts about dying during an interview with European broadcaster RTL in 2011. Stephane stated:
“I’m eagerly awaiting the taste of death. Death is something to savour, and I hope to savour mine. In the meantime, given that it has not yet happened and that I’m generally getting around normally, I’m using the time to throw out some messages.”
Several fans and friends of Stephane Hessel took to Twitter to express their sadness in learning of the resistance fighter’s death.
RIP Stéphane Hessel, as with all resistance fighters against Nazism, fascism and supplicant domestic elites in WW2 throughout Europe – hero
— Aaron Peters (@aaronjohnpeters) February 27, 2013
Rest in peace Stéphane Hessel, member of the French resistance against the Nazis and author of the best-selling pamphlet “Indignez-vous!”
— Nader (@DarthNader) February 27, 2013
Thank you Stephane Hessel, humanist and unwavering defender of human rights; a model for all, bit.ly/ZzV6bv
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) February 27, 2013