Paul Reynaud

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Paul Reynaud 1940

Paul Reynaud (born October 15, 1878 in Barcelonnette , † September 21, 1966 in Neuilly-sur-Seine ) was a French politician ( AD ) of the Third Republic in the interwar period and the Fourth Republic .


Paul Reynaud was born the second of four children. His father Alexandre had emigrated to Mexico in 1857 at the age of seventeen and had become wealthy there. Upon his return, Alexandre married Amélie Gassier, daughter of a banker and local politician. When Reynaud was five years old, the family moved permanently to Paris. Reynaud studied law (doctorate in 1904). In 1907 he made a world tour. On August 14, 1908, he was admitted to the bar . In February 1912 he married the daughter of the lawyer Henri-Robert.

In November 1919 he was first elected to the National Assembly for his home department of Basses-Alpes . There, the basically conservative Reynaud did not join any group; he represented his own positions on numerous issues. He was not re-elected in the parliamentary elections in May 1924. From outside parliament he took several campaigns against socialist and communist forces in the following years. In the parliamentary elections in April 1928, he moved back to the National Assembly as a member of parliament for Paris.

In the often changing conservative cabinets at the time of the Great Depression from 1930 to 1932, he was finance , colonial and justice minister . His most important political goals at the time were a devaluation of the franc and - together with Charles de Gaulle - the expansion of the armored forces .

With regard to National Socialist Germany , Reynaud took a clear course of confrontation; he rejected the British appeasement policy . From March 21 to June 16, 1940 he was the penultimate Prime Minister of the Third Republic. After the military collapse , like de Gaulle, he called for the fight to continue and resigned when he could not find a political majority. He provided de Gaulle with money from a secret fund. His successor was Philippe Pétain , who shortly afterwards sealed the end of the Third Republic and, as President of the Vichy regime, took power in the " Zone libre ", the unoccupied part of France.

On June 22, 1940, the surrender-like Franco-German armistice was signed by Compiègne . On June 28th, Reynaud was in a car accident in southern France; his partner, the Comtesse Hélène de Portes, died.

Reynaud withdrew to a house in Barcelonnette , 15 kilometers from the Franco-Italian demarcation line. He was placed under house arrest on July 22nd. On September 7th, he was arrested and detained in the Château de Chazeron in the Puy-de-Dôme department . After the Wehrmacht libre zone occupied , Reynaud was taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp transported.

On May 11, 1943 he was u. a. brought to Castle Itter near Wörgl in Tyrol with Édouard Daladier , Maurice Gamelin and the trade unionist Léon Jouhaux . On May 5, 1945, those imprisoned there were liberated by troops of the Wehrmacht and the American army at the Battle of Itter Castle . Major Josef Gangl was fatally hit by a sniper while attempting to get Reynaud out of the line of fire by soldiers of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Götz von Berlichingen" .

In the elections on November 10, 1946, Reynaud was re-elected as a member of the National Assembly, of which he was a member until 1962. He remained a prominent politician in the conservative Républicains indépendants faction , which was close to the Center national des indépendants et paysans (CNIP). From July to September 1948 he was finance minister, in the Laniel I cabinet from June 1953 to January 1954 he was deputy prime minister.

During the Indochina War , Reynaud was a prominent opponent of a negotiated solution, against which he spoke out publicly. After a trip to the colony in 1953, he spoke out in public for a Vietnamization of the conflict. In private he expressed himself critical of a continuation of the war after this trip.

In 1958 he headed the committee that drafted the constitution of the Fifth Republic . Reynaud initially supported an institutional strengthening of the executive branch and the person of de Gaulle, but entered into opposition to this in 1962. The reason was de Gaulle's demand for direct election of the president by the people.

Reynaud supported Jean Lecanuet in the December 1965 presidential election . Surprisingly for many, de Gaulle did not achieve an absolute majority in the first ballot with 44.6 percent of the vote, while his opponents François Mitterrand and Lecanuet received 31.7 percent and 15.6 percent respectively. Reynaud supported Mitterrand in the runoff election.

After his death in 1966, Reynaud was not granted a state funeral .

Reynaud had a daughter named Colette from his first marriage to Jeanne Henri-Robert. He had three children with his second wife Christiane Mabire: Serge, Evelyne and Alexandre.


  • Stefan Grüner: Paul Reynaud (1878–1966). Biographical studies on liberalism in France (= sources and representations on contemporary history. Vol. 48). Oldenbourg, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-486-56523-0 (also: Regensburg, Universität, Dissertation, 1997).

Web links

Commons : Paul Reynaud  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Stefan Grüner: Paul Reynaud (1878–1966). Biographical studies on liberalism in France. Munich 2001, p. 11 ( limited preview on google books )
  2. ^ Stefan Grüner: Paul Reynaud (1878–1966). Biographical studies on liberalism in France. Munich 2001, p. 15 ( limited preview on google books )
  3. Jacques Dalloz: Dictionnaire de la Guerre d'Indochine 1945-1954. Armand Colin, Paris 2006, p. 214. ISBN 978-2-20-0269258 .
predecessor Office successor

Edouard Daladier
Prime Minister of France
March 22, 1940 - June 16, 1940

Philippe Pétain

Édouard Daladier
Édouard Daladier
Foreign Minister of France
June 5, 1940 - June 16, 1940
March 21, 1940 - May 18, 1940

Paul Baudouin
Édouard Daladier

Charles Dumont
René Maier
Finance Minister of France
March 2, 1930 - December 13, 1930
July 26, 1948 - September 5, 1948

Louis Germain-Martin
Christian Pineau

Léon Bérard
Marc Rucart
Minister of Justice of France
February 20, 1932 - June 3, 1932
April 10, 1938 - November 1, 1938

René Renoult
Paul Marchandeau

Edouard Daladier
Minister of War of France
May 18, 1940 - June 16, 1940

Maxime Weygand (Secretary of Defense)
Louis Colson (Secretary of War)