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The Legendary Croix de Lorraine (Cross of Lorraine)

Everybody knows the iconic phrases: Humphrey Bogart’s “Here’s looking at you, kid”, Ingrid Bergman’s “Play it again, Sam”, and then the eternally melancholy “As Time Goes By”. But the Cross of Lorraine? It is on screen for seconds only, engraved in the ring of Norwegian resistance fighter Berger like a family crest – the cross of de Gaulle and of the French Résistance, the cross of France libre, testimony to the faith in freedom, truth, justice, a secret symbol, a sign of hope, croix de la libération not just for Ilsa and Victor László in “Casablanca”.

It had been regarded the emblem of victorious heroes ever since a knight templar brought a purported piece of the “true cross” – on which Jesus had died – to France in a reliquary shaped as a two-barred cross. During the Hundred Years’ War, the Duke of Lorraine bore the cross with the two horizontal bars on his banner. From then on, it was known as the symbol of Jeanne d’Arc: In hoc signo vinces (In this sign you will be victorious). Following the war of 1870/71, when large parts of the region fell to the German Reich, a broken Lorraine Cross was placed in the basilica on the Hill of Sion. It bore the inscription “Ce n’est pas pour toujours.” (This will not last forever.)

Fifty years later, when Lorraine was liberated and reunited, 30,000 pilgrims went to Sion and writer Maurice Barrès reassembled the fragments into a crossonce again: “C’est pour toujours.” (This will last forever.)

In the end, when the plane carrying Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid starts, Claude Rains, as Police Prefect Capitaine Renault, throws a bottle of Vichy Water into the waste basket and every audience member – in 1942, when the film came to the movie theaters – understood the double meaning of Bogart’s last words: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

C’est pour toujours. It will last forever. The Cross of Lorraine: a symbol of courage, truthfulness, outrage, hope, freedom. Of victories great and small. The pièce de résistance of individualists.
An affirmation of history and culture.