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Pierre Laval Is Executed for Treason (1945) Options
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Pierre Laval Is Executed for Treason (1945)

In 1942, Laval, a French politician who had advocated collaboration with Nazi Germany, came to power. His government drafted laborers for German factories, cooperated in the deportation of Jews to death camps, and instituted a rule of terror. After France was liberated by the Allies, Laval fled. He was eventually captured and returned to France, where he was convicted of treason and sentenced to death. How did Laval attempt to change his fate? More...
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Pierre Laval Is Executed for Treason (1945)
In 1942, Laval, a French politician who had advocated collaboration with Nazi Germany, came to power. His government drafted laborers for German factories, cooperated in the deportation of Jews to death camps, and instituted a rule of terror. After France was liberated by the Allies, Laval fled. He was eventually captured and returned to France, where he was convicted of treason and sentenced to death.
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Laval, Pierre
Also found in: Encyclopedia.
Pierre Laval

For a U.S. judge, see Pierre N. Leval.

Pierre Laval
Laval 1931.jpg
Pierre Laval (1931)
101st Prime Minister of France
In office
27 January 1931 – 20 February 1932
President Gaston Doumergue
Paul Doumer
Preceded by Théodore Steeg
Succeeded by André Tardieu
112th Prime Minister of France
In office
7 June 1935 – 24 January 1936
Preceded by Fernand Bouisson
Succeeded by Albert Sarraut
120th Prime Minister of France
(as Vice-President of the Council)
Head of State and nominal Head of Government: Philippe Pétain
In office
11 July 1940 – 13 December 1940
Preceded by Philippe Pétain
Succeeded by Pierre Étienne Flandin
123rd Prime Minister of France
In office
18 April 1942 – 20 August 1944
Preceded by François Darlan
Succeeded by Charles de Gaulle
Personal details
Born 28 June 1883
Died 15 October 1945 (aged 62)
Political party None
Religion Roman Catholic

Pierre Laval (French pronunciation: ​[pjɛʁ laval]; 28 June 1883 – 15 October 1945) was a French politician. He was four times Prime Minister of France, twice consecutively.

Following France's surrender and Armistice with Germany in 1940, he served twice in the Vichy Regime as head of government. He signed orders permitting the deportation of foreign Jews from French soil to the Nazi death camps.

After the liberation of France in 1944, Laval was arrested by the French government under General Charles de Gaulle. In what some historians consider a flawed trial, Laval was found guilty of high treason, and executed by firing squad. His manifold political activities have left behind a complicated and controversial legacy, including over a dozen biographies.
Early life

Laval was born 28 June 1883 at Châteldon, Puy-de-Dôme, in the northern part of Auvergne. His father worked in the village as a café proprietor, butcher and postman; he also owned a vineyard and horses. Laval was educated at the village school in Châteldon. At age 15, he was sent to a Paris lycée to study for his baccalauréat. Returning south to Lyon, he spent the next year reading for a degree in zoology.[1]

Laval joined the Socialists in 1903, when he was living in Saint-Étienne, 62 km southwest of Lyon.

"I was never a very orthodox socialist", he said in 1945, "by which I mean that I was never much of a Marxist. My socialism was much more a socialism of the heart than a doctrinal socialism... I was much more interested in men, their jobs, their misfortunes and their conflicts than in the digressions of the great German pontiff."[2]

Laval returned to Paris in 1907 at the age of 24. He was called up for military service and, after serving in the ranks, was discharged for varicose veins.[citation needed] In April 1913 he said: "Barrack-based armies are incapable of the slightest effort, because they are badly-trained and, above all, badly commanded." He favoured abolition of the army and replacement by a citizens' militia.[3]

During this period, Laval became familiar with the left-wing doctrines of George Sorel and Hubert Lagardelle. In 1909, he turned to the law.
Marriage and family

Shortly after becoming a member of the Paris bar, he married the daughter of a Dr. Claussat and set up a home in Paris with his new wife. Their only child, a daughter, was born in 1911. Although Laval's wife came from a political family, she never participated in politics. Laval was devoted to his family, a fact even his enemies admitted.[4]
Before the war

The years before the First World War were characterised by labour unrest, and Laval defended strikers, trade unionists, and left-wing agitators against government attempts to prosecute them. At a trade union conference, Laval said:

I am a comrade among comrades, a worker among workers. I am not one of those lawyers who are mindful of their bourgeois origin even when attempting to deny it. I am not one of those high-brow attorneys who engage in academic controversies and pose as intellectuals. I am proud to be what I am. A lawyer in the service of manual laborers who are my comrades, a worker like them, I am their brother. Comrades, I am a manual lawyer.[5]

During the First World War
Second from left, at a diplomatic function in Germany in 1931
Socialist Deputy for the Seine

In April 1914, as fear of war swept the nation, the Socialists and Radicals geared up their electoral campaign in defense of peace. Their leaders were Jean Jaurès and Joseph Caillaux. The Bloc des Gauches (Leftist Bloc) denounced the law passed in July 1913 extending compulsory military service from two to three years. The Confédération générale du travail trade union sought Laval as Socialist candidate for the Seine, a Paris suburb. He won. The Radicals, with the support of Socialists, held the majority in the French Chamber of Deputies. Together they hoped to avert war. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on 28 June 1914 and of Jaurès on 31 July 1914 shattered those hopes. Laval's brother, Jean, died in the first months of the war.

Laval and 2,000 others were listed by the military in the Carnet B, a compilation of potentially subversive elements who might hinder mobilization. In the name of national unity, Minister of the Interior Jean-Louis Malvy, despite pressure from chiefs of staff, refused to have anyone apprehended. Laval remained true to his pacifist convictions during the war. In December 1915, Jean Longuet, grandson of Karl Marx, proposed to Socialist parliamentarians that they communicate with socialists of other states, hoping to press governments into a negotiated peace. Laval signed on, but the motion was defeated.

With France's resources geared for war, goods were scarce or overpriced. On 30 January 1917, in the National Assembly Laval called upon the Supply Minister Édouard Herriot to deal with the inadequate coal supply in Paris. When Herriot said, "If I could, I would unload the barges myself", Laval retorted "Do not add ridicule to ineptitude."[6] The words delighted the assembly and attracted the attention of George Clemenceau, but left the relationship between Laval and Herriot permanently strained.
Stockholm, the "polar star"

Laval scorned the conduct of the war and the poor supply of troops in the field. When mutinies broke out after General Robert Nivelle's offensive of April 1917 at Chemin des Dames, he spoke in defense of the mutineers. When Marcel Cachin and Marius Moutet returned from St. Petersburg in June 1917 with the invitation to a socialist convention in Stockholm, Laval saw a chance for peace. In an address to the Assembly, he urged the chamber to allow a delegation to go: "Yes, Stockholm, in response to the call of the Russian Revolution.... Yes, Stockholm, for peace.... Yes, Stockholm the polar star." The request was denied.

The hope of peace in spring 1917 was overwhelmed by discovery of traitors, some real, some imagined, as with Malvy. Because he had refused to arrest Frenchmen on the Carnet B, Malvy became a suspect. Laval's "Stockholm, étoile polaire" speech had not been forgotten. Many of Laval's acquaintances, the publishers of the anarchist Bonnet rouge, and other pacifists were arrested or interrogated. Though Laval frequented pacifist circles – it was said that he was acquainted with Leon Trotsky – the authorities did not pursue him. His status as a deputy, his caution, and his friendships protected him. In November 1917, Clemenceau offered him a post in government, but the Socialist Party had by then refused to enter any government. Laval toed the party line, but he questioned the wisdom of such a policy in a meeting of the Socialist members of parliament.
Initial postwar career
From Socialist to Independent

In 1919 a conservative wave swept the Bloc National into control. Laval was not reelected. The Socialists' record of pacifism, their opposition to Clemenceau, and anxiety arising from the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia contributed to their defeat.

The General Confederation of Labour (CGT), with 2,400,000 members, launched a general strike in 1920, which petered out as thousands of workers were laid off. In response, the government sought to dissolve the CGT. Laval, with Joseph Paul-Boncour as chief counsel, defended the union's leaders, saving the union by appealing to the ministers Théodore Steeg (interior) and Auguste Isaac (commerce and industry).

Laval's relations with the Socialist Party drew to an end. The last years with the Socialist caucus in the chamber combined with the party's disciplinary policies eroded Laval's attachment to the cause. With the Bolshevik victory in Russia the party was changing; at the Congress of Tours in December 1920, the Socialists split into two ideological components: the French Communist Party (SFIC later PCF), inspired by Moscow, and the more moderate French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). Laval let his membership lapse, not taking sides as the two factions battled over the legacy of Jean Jaurès.
Mayor of Aubervilliers

In 1923 Aubervilliers in northern Paris needed a mayor. As a former deputy of the constituency, Laval was an obvious candidate. To be eligible for election, Laval bought farmland, Les Bergeries. Few were aware of his defection from the Socialists. Laval was also asked by the local SFIO and Communist Party to head their lists. Laval chose to run under his own list, of former socialists he convinced to leave the party and work for him. This was an independent Socialist Party of sorts that only existed in Aubervilliers. In a four-way race Laval won in the second round. He remained mayor of Aubervilliers until just before his death.

Laval won over those he defeated by cultivating personal contacts. He developed a network among the humble and the well-to-do in Aubervilliers, and with mayors of neighboring towns. He was the only independent politician in the suburb. This let him avoid getting the ideological war between socialists and communists.
Independent Deputy for the Seine

In the 1924 legislative elections, the SFIO and the Radicals formed a national coalition known as the Cartel des Gauches. Laval headed a list of independent socialists in the Seine. The cartel won and Laval regained a seat in the National Assembly. His first act was to bring back Joseph Caillaux, former member of the National Assembly and once the star of the Radical Party. Clemenceau had had Caillaux arrested toward the end of the war for collusion with the enemy. He spent two years in prison and lost his civic rights. Laval stood for Caillaux's pardon and won. Caillaux became an influential patron.
As a member of the government
Minister and senator

Laval's reward for support of the cartel was appointment as Minister of Public Works in the government of Paul Painlevé in April 1925. Six months later, the government collapsed. Laval from then on belonged to the club of former ministers from which new ministers were drawn. Between 1925 and 1926 Laval participated three more times in governments of Aristide Briand, once as under-secretary to the premier and twice as Minister of Justice (garde des sceaux). When he first became Minister of Justice, Laval abandoned his law practice to avoid conflict of interest.

Laval's momentum was frozen after 1926 through a reshuffling of the cartel majority orchestrated by the Radical-Socialist mayor and deputy of Lyon, Édouard Herriot. Founded in 1901, the Radical Party became the hinge faction of the Third Republic. Its support or defection often meant survival or collapse of governments. Through this latest swing, Laval was excluded from the direction of France for four years. Author Gaston Jacquemin suggested that Laval chose not to partake in a Herriot government, which he judged incapable of handling the financial crisis. 1926 marked the definitive break between Laval and the left, but he maintained friends on the left.

In 1927 Laval was elected Senator for the Seine, withdrawing from and placing himself above the political battles for majorities in the National Assembly. He longed for a constitutional reform to strengthen the executive branch and eliminate political instability, the flaw of the Third Republic.

On 2 March 1930 Laval returned as Minister of Labour in the second André Tardieu government. Tardieu and Laval knew each other from the days of Clemenceau, which developed into mutual appreciation. Tardieu needed men he could trust: his previous government had collapsed a little over a week earlier because of the defection of the minister of Labor, Louis Loucheur. But, when the Radical Socialist Camille Chautemps failed to form a viable government, Tardieu was called back.
Personal investments

During 1927–30 Laval began to accumulate the sizable personal fortune which later gave rise to charges that he had used his political position to line his own pockets. "I have always thought", he wrote to the examining magistrate on 11 September 1945, "that a soundly based material independence, if not indispensable, gives those statesmen who possess it a much greater political independence." Until 1927 his principal source of income had been his fees as a lawyer and in that year they totaled 113,350 francs, according to his income tax returns. Between August 1927 and June 1930, however, he undertook large-scale investments in various enterprises, totaling 51 million francs. Not all this money was his own, it came from a group of financiers who had the backing of an investment trust, the Union Syndicale et Financière and two banks, the Comptoir Lyon Allemand and the Banque Nationale de Crédit.[7]

Two of the investments which Laval and his backers acquired were provincial newspapers, Le Moniteur du Puy-de-Dôme and its associated printing works at Clermont-Ferrand, and the Lyon Républicain. The circulation of the Moniteur stood at 27,000 in 1926 before Laval took it over. By 1933, it had more than doubled to 58,250. Thereafter it fell away again and never surpassed its earlier peak. Profits varied, but over the seventeen years of his control, Laval obtained some 39 million francs in income from the paper and the printing works combined, and the renewed plant was valued at 50 million francs, which led the high court expert to say with some justification that it had been "an excellent affair for him."[8]
Minister of Labour and Social Insurance

More than 150,000 textile workers were on strike, and violence was feared. As Minister of Public Works in 1925, Laval had ended the strike of mine workers. Tardieu hoped he could do the same as Minister of Labour. The conflict was settled without bloodshed. Socialist politician Léon Blum, never one of Laval's allies, conceded that Laval's "intervention was skillful, opportune and decisive."[9]

Social insurance had been on the agenda for ten years. It had passed the Chamber of Deputies, but not the Senate, in 1928. Tardieu gave Laval until May Day to get the project through. The date was chosen to stifle the agitation of Labour Day. Laval's first effort went into clarifying the muddled collection of texts. He then consulted employer and labour organizations. Laval had to reconcile the divergent views of Chamber and Senate. "Had it not been for Laval's unwearying patience", Laval's associate Tissier wrote, "an agreement would never have been achieved",[10] In two months Laval presented the Assembly a text which overcame its original failure. It met the financial constraints, reduced the control of the government, and preserved the choice of doctors and their billing freedom. The Chamber and the Senate passed the law with an overwhelming majority.

When the bill had passed its final stages, Tardieu described his Minister of Labour as "displaying at every moment of the discussion as much tenacity as restraint and ingenuity."[11]
The First Laval Government

Tardieu's government ultimately proved unable to weather the Oustric Affair. After the failure of the Oustric Bank, it appeared that members of the government had improper ties to it. The scandal involved Minister of Justice Raoul Péret, and Under-Secretaries Henri Falcoz and Eugène Lautier. Though Tardieu was not involved, on 4 December 1930, he lost his majority in the Senate. President Gaston Doumergue called on Louis Barthou to form a government, but Barthou failed. Doumergue turned to Laval, who fared no better. The following month the government formed by Théodore Steeg floundered. Doumergue renewed his offer to Laval. On 27 January 1931 he successfully formed his first government.

In the words of Léon Blum, the Socialist opposition was amazed and disappointed that the ghost of Tardieu's government reappeared within a few weeks of being defeated with Laval, "like a night bird surprised by the light" at its head. Laval's nomination as premier led to speculation that Tardieu, the new agriculture minister, held the real power in the Laval Government. Laval thought highly of Tardieu and Briand, and applied policies in line with theirs. Laval was not Tardieu's mouthpiece. Ministers who formed the Laval government were in great part those who had formed Tardieu governments but that was a function of the composite majority Laval could find at the National Assembly. Raymond Poincaré, Aristide Briand and Tardieu before him had offered ministerial posts to Herriot's Radicals, but to no avail.

Besides Briand, André Maginot, Pierre-Étienne Flandin, Paul Reynaud, Laval brought in as his advisors, friends such as Maurice Foulon from Aubervilliers, and Pierre Cathala, whom he knew from his days in Bayonne and who had worked in Laval's Labour ministry. Cathala began as Under-Secretary of the Interior and became Minister of the Interior in January 1932. Blaise Diagne of Senegal, the first African deputy, had joined the National Assembly at the same time as Laval in 1914. Laval invited Diagne to join his cabinet as under-secretary to the colonies, making him the first Black African in a French government. Laval called on financial experts such as Jacques Rueff, Charles Rist and Adéodat Boissard. André François-Poncet was brought in as under-secretary to the premier and then as ambassador to Germany. Laval's government included an economist, Claude-Joseph Gignoux, when economists in government service were rare.

France in 1931 was unaffected by the world economic crisis. Laval declared on embarking for America on 16 October 1931, "France remained healthy thanks to work and savings." Agriculture, small industry, and protectionism were the bases of France's economy. The conservative policy of contained wages and limited social services, allowed France the largest gold reserves in the world after the United States. France reaped the benefit of devaluation of the franc orchestrated by Poincaré, which made French products competitive on the world market. In the whole of France, there were 12,000 people unemployed.

Laval and his cabinet considered the economy and gold reserves as means to diplomatic ends. Laval left to visit London, Berlin and Washington. He attended conferences on the world crisis, war reparations and debt, disarmament, and the gold standard.
Role in 1931 Austrian financial crisis

In 1931, Austria underwent a banking crisis when its largest bank, the Creditanstalt, was revealed to be nearly bankrupt, threatening a worldwide financial crisis. World leaders began negotiating the terms for an international loan to Austria's central government in order to sustain its financial system; however, Laval blocked the proposed package for nationalistic reasons, demanding that France receive a series of diplomatic concessions in exchange for its support, including renunciation of a prospective German-Austrian customs union. This proved to be fatal for the negotiations, which ultimately fell through.[12][13] As a result, the Creditanstalt declared bankruptcy on May 11, 1931, precipitating a crisis that quickly spread to other nations. Within four days, bank runs in Budapest were underway, and the bank failures began spreading to Germany and Britain, among others.[14]
The Hoover Moratorium (20 June 1931)

The Hoover Moratorium of 1931, a proposal made by American President Herbert Hoover to freeze all intergovernmental debt for a one-year period, was, according to author and political advisor McGeorge Bundy, "the most significant action taken by an American president for Europe since Woodrow Wilson's administration." The reality was that the United States had enormous stakes in Germany: long-term German borrowers owed the United States private sector more than $1.25 billion; the short-term debt neared $1 billion. By comparison, the entire United States national income in 1931 was just $54 billion. To put it into perspective, authors Walter Lippmann and William O. Scroggs stated in The United States in World Affairs, An Account of American Foreign Relations, that "the American stake in Germany's government and private obligations was equal to half that of all the rest of the world combined."

The proposed moratorium would also benefit Great Britain's investment in Germany's private sector making more likely the repayment of those loans while the public indebtedness was frozen. It certainly was in Hoover's interest to offer aid to an ailing British economy in light of Great Britain's indebtedness to the United States. France, on the other hand, had a relatively small stake in Germany's private debt but a huge interest in German reparations; and payment to France would be compromised under Hoover's moratorium.

Already difficult to accept on the face of it was further complicated by ill timing, perceived collusion between the US, Great Britain and Germany and a breach of the Young Plan. Such breach could only be approved by the National Assembly and thus the survival of the Laval Government rested on the legislative body's approval of the moratorium. Seventeen days elapsed between the proposal and the vote of confidence of the French legislators. That delay was blamed for the lack of success of the Hoover Moratorium. The U.S. Congress only approved it in December of that year.

The Hoover Moratorium was the opening shot to a year of personal and direct diplomacy which took Laval to London, Berlin and the United States. While internally he was able to accomplish much, his international efforts were short in results. British Premier Ramsay McDonald and Foreign Secretary Arthur Anderson—preoccupied by internal political divisions and the collapse of the Pound Sterling – were unable to help. German Chancellor Heinrich Brüning and Foreign Minister Julius Curtius, both eager for Franco-German reconciliation, were under siege on all quarters: they faced a very weak economy which made meeting government payroll a weekly miracle, and private bankruptcies and constant lay-offs had the communists on a short fuse. On the other end of the political spectrum the German army was actively spying on the Brüning cabinet and feeding information to the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten and the National Socialists, effectively freezing any overtures towards France.

In the United States the conference between Hoover and Laval was an exercise in mutual frustration. Hoover's plan for a reduced military had been rebuffed – albeit gently. A solution to the Danzig corridor had been retracted. The concept of introducing silver standard for the countries that went off the gold standard was disregarded as a frivolous proposal by Laval and Albert-Buisson. Hoover thought it might have helped "Mexico, India, China and South America", but Laval dismissed the silver solution as an inflationary proposition adding that "it was cheaper to inflate paper."[15]

Laval did not get a security pact, without which the French would never consider disarmament, nor did he obtain an endorsement for the political moratorium. The promise to match any reduction of German reparations with a decrease of the French debt was not put in the communiqué. What was stated in the joint statement was the attachment of France and the United States to the gold standard. The two governments also agreed that the Banque de France and the Federal Reserve would consult each other before the transfer of gold. This was welcome news after the run on American gold in the preceding weeks. In light of the financial crisis, they further agreed to review the economic situation of Germany before the Hoover moratorium ran its course.

These were no doubt meagre political results. The Hoover-Laval encounter, however, had an impact. The American and French press was smitten with Laval. His optimism was such a contrast to his grim-sounding international contemporaries that Time magazine made him their 1931 Man of the Year,[16] an honour never bestowed on a Frenchman before, following Mohandas K. Gandhi and preceding Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The second Cartel des gauches (Left-Wing Cartel) was driven from power by the riots of 6 February 1934, staged by fascist, monarchist, and other far-right groups. (These groups had contacts with some conservative politicians, among whom were Laval and Marshal Philippe Pétain.) Laval became Minister of Colonies in the new right-wing government of Gaston Doumergue. In October, Foreign Minister Louis Barthou was assassinated; Laval succeeded him, holding that office until 1936.

At this time, Laval was opposed to Germany, the "hereditary enemy" of France. He pursued anti-German alliances with Benito Mussolini's Italy and Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. He met with Mussolini in Rome, and they signed the Franco–Italian Agreement of 1935 on 4 January. The agreement ceded parts of French Somaliland to Italy and allowed Italy a free hand in Abyssinia, in exchange for support against any German aggression.[17] Laval denied that he gave Mussolini a free hand in Abyssinia, he even wrote to Mussolini on the subject.[18] In April 1935, Laval persuaded Italy and Great Britain to join France in the Stresa Front against German ambitions in Austria.

In June 1935, he became Prime Minister as well. In October 1935, Laval and British foreign minister Samuel Hoare proposed a "realpolitik" solution to the Abyssinia Crisis. When leaked to the media in December, the Hoare-Laval Pact was widely denounced as appeasement to Mussolini. Laval was forced to resign on 22 January 1936, and was driven completely out of ministerial politics.

The victory of the Popular Front in 1936 meant that Laval had a left-wing government as a target for his media.
Under Vichy France
Formation of the Vichy Government

During the phoney war, Laval's attitude towards the conflict reflected a cautious ambivalence. He was on record as saying that although the war could have been avoided by diplomatic means, it was now up to the government to prosecute it with the utmost vigor.[19]

On 9 June 1940, the Germans were advancing on a front of more than 250 kilometres (160 mi) in length across the entire width of France. As far as General Maxime Weygand was concerned, "if the Germans crossed the Seine and the Marne, it was the end."[20]

Simultaneously, Marshal Philippe Pétain was increasing the pressure upon Prime Minister Paul Reynaud to call for an armistice. During this time Laval was in Châteldon. On 10 June, in view of the German advance, the government left Paris for Tours. Weygand had informed Reynaud: "the final rupture of our lines may take place at any time." If that happened "our forces would continue to fight until their strength and resources were extinguished. But their disintegration would be no more than a matter of time."[21]

Weygand had avoided using the word armistice, but it was on the minds of all those involved. Only Reynaud was in opposition. During this time Laval had left Châteldon for Bordeaux, where his daughter nearly convinced him of the necessity of going to the United States. Instead, it was reported that he was sending "messengers and messengers" to Pétain.[22]

As the Germans occupied Paris, Pétain was asked to form a new government. To everyone's surprise, he produced a list of his ministers, convincing proof that he had been expecting the president's summons and he had prepared for it.[23] Laval's name was on the list as Minister of Justice. When informed of his proposed appointment, Laval's temper and ambitions became apparent as he ferociously demanded of Pétain, despite the objections of more experienced men of government, that he be made Minister of Foreign Affairs. Laval realized that only through this position could he effect a reversal of alliances and bring himself to favour with Nazi Germany, the military power he viewed as the inevitable victor. In the face of Laval's wrath, dissenting voices acquiesced and Laval became Minister of Foreign Affairs.[24]

One result of these events was that Laval was later able to claim that he was not part of the government that requested the armistice. His name did not appear in the chronicles of events until June when he began to assume a more active role in criticizing the government's decision to leave France for North Africa.
Vichy France

Although the final terms of the armistice were harsh, the French colonial empire was left untouched and the French government was allowed to administer the occupied and unoccupied zones. The concept of "collaboration" was written into the Armistice Convention, before Laval joined the government. The French representatives who affixed their signatures to the text accepted the term.

Article III. In the occupied areas of France, the German Reich is to exercise all the rights of an occupying power. The French government promises to facilitate by all possible means the regulations relative to the exercise of this right, and to carry out these regulations with the participation of the French administration. The French government will immediately order all the French authorities and administrative services in the occupied zone to follow the regulations of the German military authorities and to collaborate with the latter in a correct manner.

Laval in the Vichy government, 1940–1941

When Laval was included in Pétain's cabinet as minister of state, he began the work for which he would be remembered: the emulation of the totalitarian regime of Germany, the taking up of the cause of fascism, the destruction of democracy, and the dismantling of the Third Republic.[25]

In October 1940, Laval understood collaboration more or less in the same sense as Pétain. For both, to collaborate meant to give up the least possible in order to get the most.[26] Laval, in his role of go-between, was forced to be in constant touch with the German authorities, to shift ground, to be wily, to plan ahead. All this, under the circumstances, drew more attention to him than to the Marshal and made him appear to many Frenchmen as "the agent of collaboration"; to others, he was "the Germans' man".[27]

The meetings between Pétain and Adolf Hitler, and between Laval and Hitler, are often used as showing the collaboration of the French leaders and the Nazis. In fact the results of Montoire (24–26 October) were a disappointment for both sides. Hitler wanted France to declare war on the British, and the French wanted improved relations with her conqueror. Neither happened. Virtually the only concession the French obtained was the so-called 'Berlin protocol' of 16 November, which provided release of certain categories of French prisoners of war.

In November, Laval made a number of pro-German actions on his own, without consulting with his colleagues. The most notorious examples concerned turning over to the Germans the RTB Bor copper mines and the Belgian gold reserves. His post-war justification, apart from a denial that he acted unilaterally, was that the French were powerless to prevent the Germans from gaining something they were clearly so eager to obtain.[28]

These actions by Laval were a factor in his dismissal on 13 December, when Pétain asked all the ministers to sign a collective letter of resignation during a full cabinet meeting. Laval did so thinking it was a device to get rid of M. Belin, the Minister of Labor. He was therefore stunned when the Marshal announced, "the resignations of MM. Laval and Ripert are accepted."[29]

That evening, Laval was arrested and driven by the police to his home in Châteldon. The following day, Pétain announced his decision to remove Laval from the government. The reason for Laval's dismissal lies in the fundamental incompatibility between him and Pétain. Laval's methods of working appeared slovenly to the Marshal's precise military mind, and he showed a marked lack of deference, instanced by his habit of blowing cigarette smoke in Pétain's face, and in doing so he aroused not only Pétain's anger, but that of his cabinet colleagues as well.[30]

On 27 August 1941, several top Vichyites including Laval attended a review of the Légion des Volontaires Français (LVF), a collaborationist militia. Paul Collette, a disgruntled ex-member of the Croix-de-Feu, attacked the reviewing stand; he shot and wounded Laval (and also Marcel Déat, another prominent collaborationist). Laval soon recovered from the injury.
Return to power, 1942
Laval and Pétain in Frank Capra documentary film Divide and Conquer (1943)

Laval returned to power in April 1942. Laval had been in power for a mere two months when he was faced with the decision of providing forced workers to Germany. Germany was short of skilled labour due to its need for troop replacements on the Russian front. Unlike the other occupied countries, France was technically protected by the armistice, and her workers could not be simply rounded up and transported to Germany. However, in the occupied zone, the Germans used intimidation and control of raw materials to create unemployment and thus reasons for French laborers to volunteer to work in Germany. German officials demanded from Laval that more than 300,000 skilled workers should be immediately sent to factories in Germany. Laval delayed and then countered by offering to send one worker for the return of one French soldier being held captive in Germany. The proposal was sent to Hitler, with a compromise being reached; one prisoner of war to be repatriated for every three workers arriving in Germany.[31]

The role of Laval in the deportation of Jews to death camps has been hotly debated by both his accusers and defenders. When ordered to have all Jews in France rounded up to be transported to German-occupied Poland, Laval negotiated a compromise, allowing only those Jews who were not French citizens to be forfeited to the control of Germany. It has been estimated that by the end of the war the Germans had wiped out ninety percent of the Jewish population of the other occupied countries but in France fifty per cent of the pre-war French and foreign Jewish population, with perhaps ninety per cent of the purely French Jewish population still remaining alive.[32] However, Laval went beyond the orders given to him by the Germans, by including Jewish children under 16 in the deportations. The Germans had given him permission to spare children under 16. In his book Churches and the Holocaust, Mordecai Paldiel claims that when Protestant leader Martin Boegner visited Laval in order to remonstrate, Laval claimed that he had ordered children to be deported along with their parents because families should not be separated and "children should remain with their parents".[33] According to Paldiel, when Boegner argued that the children would almost certainly die, Laval replied "not one [Jewish child] must remain in France". Yet, Sarah Fishman claims that Laval also attempted to prevent Jewish children gaining visas to America, arranged by the American Friends Service Committee. He was not so much committed to expelling Jewish children from France, as making sure they reached Nazi camps.[34] Neither Paldiel nor Fishman offer valid citations for what they have written, so it must be considered as hearsay.[citation needed]
Laval with the head of German police units in France, Carl Oberg

More and more the insoluble dilemma of collaboration faced Laval and his chief of staff, Jean Jardin. Laval had to maintain Vichy's authority to prevent Germany from installing a Quisling Government made up of French Nazis. Compromise after compromise loaded Laval with the accusation he was nothing more than an agent of Germany.[citation needed]

In 1943, Laval became the nominal leader of the newly created Milice, though its actual leader was Secretary General Joseph Darnand.[35]

When Operation Torch, the landings of Allied forces in North Africa, began, Germany occupied all of France. Hitler continued to ask whether the French government was prepared to fight at his side, wanting Vichy to declare war against Britain. Laval and Pétain agreed to maintain a firm refusal. During this time and the Normandy landings, Laval was in a struggle against ultra-collaborationist ministers.

In a speech broadcast on the Normandy landings' D-day, he appealed to the nation:

You are not in the war. You must not take part in the fighting. If you do not observe this rule, if you show proof of indiscipline, you will provoke reprisals the harshness of which the government would be powerless to moderate. You would suffer, both physically and materially, and you would add to your country's misfortunes. You will refuse to heed the insidious appeals, which will be addressed to you. Those who ask you to stop work or invite you to revolt are the enemies of our country. You will refuse to aggravate the foreign war on our soil with the horror of civil war.... At this moment fraught with drama, when the war has been carried on to our territory, show by your worthy and disciplined attitude that you are thinking of France and only of her."[36]

A few months later, he was arrested by the Germans and transported to Belfort. In view of the speed of the Allied advance, on 7 September, what was left of the Vichy government was moved from Belfort to the castle of Sigmaringen in Germany. By April 1945 U.S. General George S. Patton's army was near Sigmaringen so the Vichy ministers were forced to seek their own salvation. Laval received permission to enter Spain, only to be returned to Germany after a few months. The United States authorities immediately took him and his wife into custody, and turned them over to the Free French. They were flown to Paris to be imprisoned at Fresnes, Val-de-Marne. Madame Laval was later released; Pierre Laval remained in prison to be tried as a traitor.[37]
Trial and execution

Two trials were to be held. Although it had its faults, the Pétain trial permitted the presentation and examination of a vast amount of pertinent material. As to the second trial, a number of scholars including Robert Paxton and Geoffrey Warner are of the opinion that Laval's own trial illustrated nothing but the inadequacies of the judicial system and the poisonous political atmosphere of that purge-trial era.[38][39]

During his imprisonment pending the verdict of his treason trial, Laval wrote his only book, his posthumously published Diary, which his daughter, Josée de Chambrun, smuggled out of the prison page by page.[40]

Laval firmly believed that he would be able to convince his fellow-countrymen that he had been acting in their best interests all along. "Father-in-law wants a big trial which will illuminate everything", René de Chambrun told Laval's lawyers: "If he is given time to prepare his defence, if he is allowed to speak, to call witnesses and to obtain from abroad the information and documents which he needs, he will confound his accusers."[41]

"Do you want me to tell you the set-up?" Laval asked one of his lawyers on 4 August. "There will be no pre-trial hearings and no trial. I will be condemned – and got rid of – before the elections."[42]

Laval's trial began at 1:30 pm on Thursday, 4 October 1945. He was charged with plotting against the security of the State and intelligence (collaboration) with the enemy. He had three defence lawyers (Jaques Baraduc, Albert Naud, and Yves-Frédéric Jaffré). None of his lawyers had ever met him before. He saw most of Jaffré, who sat with him, talked, listened and took down notes that he wanted to dictate. Baraduc, who quickly became convinced of Laval's innocence, kept contact with the Chambruns and at first shared their conviction that Laval would be acquitted or at most receive a sentence of temporary exile. Naud, who had been a member of the Resistance, believed Laval to be guilty and urged him to plead that he had made grave errors but had acted under constraint. Laval would not listen to him; he was convinced that he was innocent and could prove it. "He acted", said Naud, "as if his career, not his life, was at stake."[43]

All three of his lawyers declined to be in court to hear the reading of the formal charges because "We fear that the haste which has been employed to open the hearings is inspired, not by judicial preoccupations, but motivated by political considerations." In lieu of attending the hearing they sent letters stating the shortcomings and asked to be discharged from the task of defending Laval.[44]

The court carried on without them. The president of the court, Pierre Mongibeaux announced that the trial must be completed before the general election—scheduled for 21 October.[45] The trial proceeded with the tone being set with Mongibeaux and Mornet, the public prosecutor, unable to control constant hostile outbursts from the jury. These occurred as increasingly heated exchanges between Mongibeaux and Laval became louder and louder. On the third day, Laval's three lawyers were with him as the President of the Bar Association had advised them to resume their duties.[46]

After the adjournment, Mongibeaux announced that the part of the interrogation dealing with the charge of plotting against the security of the state was concluded and that he now proposed to deal with the charge of intelligence (collaboration) with the enemy. "Monsieur le Président", Laval replied, "the insulting way in which you questioned me earlier and the demonstrations in which some members of the jury indulged show me that I may be the victim of a judicial crime. I do not want to be an accomplice; I prefer to remain silent." Mongibeaux thereupon called the first of the prosecution witnesses, but they had not expected to give evidence so soon and none were present. Mongibeaux therefore adjourned the hearing for the second time so that they could be located. When the court reassembled half an hour later, Laval was no longer in his place.[47]

Although Pierre-Henri Teitgen, the Minister of Justice in Charles de Gaulle's cabinet, personally appealed to Laval's lawyers to have him attend the hearings, he declined to do so. Teitgen freely confirmed the conduct of Mongibeaux and Mornet, professing he was unable to do anything to curb them. The trial continued without the accused, ending with Laval being sentenced to death. His lawyers were turned down when they requested a re-trial.[48]

The execution was fixed for the morning of 15 October. Laval attempted to cheat the firing squad by taking poison from a phial which had been stitched inside the lining of his jacket since the war years. He did not intend, he explained in a suicide note, that French soldiers should become accomplices in a "judicial crime". The poison, however, was so old that it was ineffective, and repeated stomach-pumpings revived Laval.[49]

Laval requested his lawyers to witness his execution. He was shot shouting "Vive la France!". Shouts of "Murderers!" and "Long live Laval!" were apparently heard from the prison.[50] Laval's widow declared: "It is not the French way to try a man without letting him speak", she told an English newspaper, "That's the way he always fought against – the German way."[51]

The High Court, which functioned until 1949, judged 108 cases, pronouncing eight death penalties, including one on Pétain but asking that it not be carried out because of his age. Only three of the death penalties were carried out: Pierre Laval; Fernand de Brinon, Vichy's Ambassador in Paris to the German authorities; and Joseph Darnand, head of the Milice.[52]
Laval's First Government, 27 January 1931 – 14 January 1932

Pierre Laval – President of the Council and Minister of the Interior
Léon Bérard – Vice-President of the Council and Minister of Justice
Aristide Briand – Minister of Foreign Affairs
André Maginot – Minister of War
Charles Dumont – Minister of Marine
Jacques-Louis Dumesnil – Minister of Air
Mario Roustan – Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts
Pierre Étienne Flandin – Minister of Finance
François Piétri – Minister of Budget
Maurice Deligne – Minister of Public Works
Louis Rollin – Minister of Commerce and Industry
André Tardieu – Minister of Agriculture
Charles de Chappedelaine – Minister of Merchant Marine
Auguste Champetier de Ribes – Minister of Pensions
Adolphe Landry – Minister of Labour and Social Security Provisions
Camille Blaisot – Minister of Public Health
Charles Guernier – Minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones
Paul Reynaud – Minister of Colonies


A few changes after Aristide Briand's retirement and the death of André Maginot on 7 January 1932:

War: André Tardieu
Interieur: Pierre Cathala
Agriculture: Achille Fould
André François-Poncet upon becoming ambassador to Germany was replaced by C.J. Gignoux.

Laval's Second Government, 14 January – 20 February 1932

Pierre Laval – President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs
André Tardieu – Minister of War
Pierre Cathala – Minister of the Interior
Pierre-Étienne Flandin – Minister of Finance
François Piétri – Minister of Budget
Adolphe Landry – Minister of Labour and Social Security Provisions
Léon Bérard – Minister of Justice
Charles Dumont – Minister of Marine
Louis de Chappedelaine – Minister of Merchant Marine
Jacques-Louis Dumesnil – Minister of Air
Mario Roustan – Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts
Auguste Champetier de Ribes – Minister of Pensions
Achille Fould – Minister of Agriculture
Paul Reynaud – Minister of Colonies
Maurice Deligne – Minister of Public Works
Camille Blaisot – Minister of Public Health
Charles Guernier – Minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones
Louis Rollin – Minister of Commerce and Industry

Laval's Third Ministry, 7 June 1935 – 24 January 1936

Pierre Laval – President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Jean Fabry – Minister of War
Joseph Paganon – Minister of the Interior
Marcel Régnier – Minister of Finance
Ludovic-Oscar Frossard – Minister of Labour
Léon Bérard – Minister of Justice
François Piétri – Minister of Marine
Mario Roustan – Minister of Merchant Marine
Victor Denain – Minister of Air
Philippe Marcombes – Minister of National Education
Henri Maupoil – Minister of Pensions
Pierre Cathala – Minister of Agriculture
Louis Rollin – Minister of Colonies
Laurent Eynac – Minister of Public Works
Ernest Lafont – Minister of Public Health and Physical Education
Georges Mandel – Minister of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones
Georges Bonnet – Minister of Commerce and Industry
Édouard Herriot – Minister of State
Louis Marin – Minister of State
Pierre Étienne Flandin – Minister of State


17 June 1935 – Mario Roustan succeeds Marcombes (d. 13 June) as Minister of National Education. William Bertrand succeeds Roustan as Minister of Merchant Marine.

Laval's Fourth Ministry, 18 April 1942 – 20 August 1944

Pierre Laval – President of the Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of the Interior, and Minister of Information
Eugène Bridoux – Minister of War
Pierre Cathala – Minister of Finance and National Economy
Jean Bichelonne – Minister of Industrial Production
Hubert Lagardelle – Minister of Labour
Joseph Barthélemy – Minister of Justice
Gabriel Auphan – Minister of Marine
Jean-François Jannekeyn – Minister of Air
Abel Bonnard – Minister of National Education
Jacques Le Roy Ladurie – Minister of Agriculture
Max Bonnafous – Minister of Supply
Jules Brévié – Minister of Colonies
Raymond Grasset – Minister of Family and Health
Robert Gibrat – Minister of Communication
Lucien Romier – Minister of State


11 September 1942 – Max Bonnafous succeeds Le Roy Ladurie as Minister of Agriculture, remaining also Minister of Supply
18 November 1942 – Jean-Charles Abrial succeeds Auphan as Minister of Marine. Jean Bichelonne succeeds Gibrat as Minister of Communication, remaining also Minister of Industrial Production.
26 March 1943 – Maurice Gabolde succeeds Barthélemy as Minister of Justice. Henri Bléhaut succeeds Abrial as Minister of Marine and Brévié as Minister of Colonies.
21 November 1943 – Jean Bichelonne succeeds Lagardelle as Minister of Labour, remaining also Minister of Industrial Production and Communication.
31 December 1943 – Minister of State Lucien Romier resigns from the government.
6 January 1944 – Pierre Cathala succeeds Bonnafous as Minister of Agriculture and Supply, remaining also Minister of Finance and National Economy.
3 March 1944 – The office of Minister of Supply is abolished. Pierre Cathala remains Minister of Finance, National Economy, and Agriculture.
16 March 1944 – Marcel Déat succeeds Bichelonne as Minister of Labour and National Solidarity. Bichelonne remains Minister of Industrial Production and Communication.


^ Warner, Geoffrey, Pierre Laval and the Eclipse of France, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1968, p. 3
^ Jaffré, Yves-Frédéric, Les: Derniers Propos de Pierre Laval, Paris: Andre Bonne, 1953, p. 55
^ Privat, Maurice, Pierre Laval, Paris: Editions Les Documents secrets, 1931, pp. 67–8.
^ Warner, p.4
^ Torrés, Henry, Pierre Laval (Translated by Norbert Guterman), New York: Oxford University Press, 1941, pp. 17–20. Torrés was a close associate of Laval. "His entire physique, his filthy hands, his unkempt mustache, his disheveled hair, one lock of which was always falling down over his forehead, his powerful shoulders and careless dress, strikingly supported this profession. Even his white tie inspired confidence" pp. 18–19.
^ "Herriot gémit: 'Si je pouvais, j'irais décharger moi-même les péniches.' La voix rauque du jeune député de la Seine s'élève, implacable: 'N'ajoutez pas le ridicule à l'incapacité!' Mallet, Pierre Laval des Années obscures, 18–19.
^ Warner, Geoffrey, Pierre Laval and the eclipse of France, New York: The Macmillian Company, 1968, pp. 19–20.
^ Ibid. p. 20
^ Léon Blum, L'Œuvre de Léon Blum, Réparations et Désarmement, Les Problèmes de la Paix, La Montée des Fascismes, 1918–1934 (Paris: Albin Michel, 1972), 263.
^ Tissier, Pierre, I worked with Laval, London: Harrap, 1942, p. 48.
^ Bonnefous, Georges and Edouard: Histoire Politique de la Troisiéme République, Vol. V, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962, pp. 28–29.
^ Eichengreen, Barry and Harold James. International Monetary Cooperation Since Bretton Woods, P268 [1]
^ Eichengreen and James, P270
^ "Memorandum of Conference with Laval", Stimson, Diary, 23 October 1931.
^ Original Time article
^ André Larané, 4 janvier 1935: Laval rencontre Mussolini à Rome, Hérodote (French)
^ For the only complete correspondence between Laval and Mussolini regarding this affair consult Benito Mussolini, Opera Omnia di Benito Mussolini, vol. XXVII, Dall'Inaugurazione Della Provincia Di Littoria Alla Proclamazione Dell'Impero (19 Dicembre 1934-9 Maggio 1936), eds. Edoardo and Duilio Susmel (Florence: La Fenice, 1951), 287.
^ Warner, Geoffrey, Ibid. p.149
^ Weygand, General Maxime, Mémoirs, Vol. III, Paris: Flammarion, 1950, pp. 168–88.
^ Ibid. pp.189–90.
^ Baudouin, Paul, Neuf Mois au Gouvernement, Paris: La Table Ronde, 1948, p. 166.
^ Lebrun, Albert, Témoignages, Paris: Plon, 1945. p. 85.
^ Churchill, Winston S., "The Second World War, Vol. 2", p. 216.
^ Darkness in Paris: The Allies and the eclipse of France 1940, Scribe Publications, Melbourne, Australia 2005, page 277
^ *Chambrun, René de, Pierre Laval, Traitor or Patriot? (Translated by Elly Stein), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984, p. 50.
^ Ibid. pp 49–50
^ Warner, p. 246.
^ Ibid., p. 255.
^ Jaffré, Yves-Frédéric, Les Derniers Propos de Pierre Laval, Paris: Andre Bonne, 1953, p. 164.
^ Warner, pp. 307–10, 364.
^ Cole, Hubert, Laval, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1963, pp. 210–11.
^ Paldiel, Mordecai. Churches and the Holocaust: unholy teaching, good samaritans, and reconciliation p82
^ Fishman, Sarah The battle for children: World War II, youth crime, and juvenile justice in twentieth-century France (Harvard University Press; 2002), page 73
^ Warner, p. 387
^ Ibid. pp. 396–7.
^ Ibid. pp. 404–407.
^ Paxton, Robert O., Vichy France, Old Guard and New Order 1940–1944, New York: Columbia University Press, 1972 (1982) p.425
^ Warner, p.408
^ Laval, Pierre, The Diary of Pierre Laval (With a Preface by his daughter, Josée Laval), New York: Scribner's Sons, 1948.
^ Naud, Albert, Pourquoi je n'ai pas défendu Pierre Laval, Paris: Fayard 1948
^ Baraduc, Jaques, Dans la Cellule de Pierre Laval, Paris: Editions Self, 1948, p. 31.
^ Cole, Hubert, Laval, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1963,pp. 280–1.
^ Naud, p.249; Baraduc, p.143; Jaffré, p.263.
^ Laval Parle, Notes et Mémoires Rediges par Pierre Laval dans sa cellule, avec une préface de sa fille et de Nombreux Documents Inédits, Constant Bourquin (Editor) pp. 13–15
^ Le Procès Laval: Compte-rendu sténographique, Maurice Garçon (Editor), Paris: Albin Michel, 1946, pp. 91.
^ Ibid. pp. 207–209.
^ Naud, pp. 249–57; Baraduc, pp. 143–6; Jaffré, pp. 263–7.
^ Warner. p. 415-6. For detailed accounts of Laval's execution, see Naud, pp. 276–84; Baraduc, pp. 188–200; Jaffré, pp. 308–18.
^ Chambrun, René de, Mission and Betrayal 1949-1945, London: André Deutch, 1993, p. 134.
^ Evening Standard, 16 October 1945 (cover page).
^ Curtis, Michael, Verdict on Vichy, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2002, p.346-7

Further reading
Critical of Laval

Tissier, Pierre, I worked with Laval, London: George Harrap & Co, 1942
Torrés, Henry, Pierre Laval (Translated by Norbert Guterman), New York: Oxford University Press, 1941
Bois, Elie J., Truth on the Tragedy of France, (London, 1941)
Pétain-Laval The Conspiracy, With a Foreword by Viscount Cecil, London: Constable, 1942
Marrus, Michael & Paxton, Robert O. Vichy France and the Jews, New York: Basic Books New York 1981,

Post-war defences of Laval

Julien Clermont (pseudonym for Georges Hilaire), L'Homme qu'il fallait tuer (Paris, 1949)
Jacques Guerard, Criminel de Paix (Paris, 1953)
Michel Letan, Pierre Laval de l'armistice au poteau (Paris, 1947)
Alfred Mallet, Pierre Laval (Paris, 1955)
Maurice Privat, Pierre Laval, cet inconnu (Paris, 1948)
René de Chambrun, Pierre Laval, Traitor or Patriot?, (New York) 1984; and Mission and Betrayal, (London, 1993).
Whitcomb, Philip W., France During The German Occupation 1940–1944, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1957, In three vol.

Books by Laval's lawyers

Baraduc, Jaques, Dans la Cellule de Pierre Laval, Paris: Editions Self, 1948
Jaffré, Yves-Frédéric, Les Derniers Propos de Pierre Laval, Paris: Andre Bonne, 1953
Naud, Albert, Pourquoi je n'ai pas défendu Pierre Laval, Paris: Fayard 1948

Full biographies

Cointet, Jean-Paul, Pierre Laval, Paris: Fayard, 1993
Cole, Hubert, Laval, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1963
Kupferman, Fred, Laval 1883–1945, Paris: Flammarion, 1988
Pourcher, Yves, Pierre Laval vu par sa fille, Paris: Le Grande Livre du Mois, 2002
Warner, Geoffrey, Pierre Laval and the eclipse of France, New York: The Macmillian Company, 1968

Other biographical material

Man of the Year profile, 4 January 1932
Time Magazine Cover Story article 27 April 1942
"Devil,s Advocate". TIME magazine. 15 October 1945. Retrieved 10 August 2008. on the Laval treason trial, 15 Oct 1945
""What Is Honor?"". TIME magazine. 13 August 1945. Retrieved 10 August 2008. on Laval's testimony in Petain's trial, 13 Aug 1945
Abrahamsen, David, Men, Mind, and Power, New York: Columbia University Press, 1945
Bonnefous, Georges and Edouard: Histoire Politque de la Troisième République, Vol. V, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1962
Brody, J. Kenneth, The Avoidable War (Vol. 2) Pierre Laval & Politics of Reality 1935–1936, New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2000
Bechtel, Guy, Laval, vingt ans apres, Paris: Robert Laffont, 1963
Chambrun, René de, Laval, Devant L'History, Paris: EDITIONS FRANCE-EMPIRE, 1983
Chambrun, René de, Mission and Betrayal 1939–1945, London: André Deutch Ltd., 1993
Clermont, Julien, L'homme qu'il Fallait Tuer --- Pierre Laval, Paris: Les Actes des Apotres, 1949
Curtis, Michael, Verdict on Vichy, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2002
De Gaulle Mémoires de Guerre, Vol. III, Le Salut 1944–46, Paris: Plon, 1959
Farmer, Paul, Vichy --- Political Dilemma, London: Oxford University Press, 1955
Gounelle, Claude, Le Dossier Laval, Paris: Librairie Plon, 1969
Gun, Nerin E., Les secrets des archives américaines, Pétain, Laval, De Gaulle, Paris: Albin Michel, 1979
Jacquemin, Gason, La vie publique de Pierre Laval, Paris: Plon, 1973
Laval Parle, Notes et Mémoires Rédigées par Pierre Laval dans sa cellule, avec une préface de sa fille et de Nombreux Documents Inédits, Constant Bourquin (Editor), Geneva: Sditions du Cheval Ailé, 1947
Laval, P. The Unpublished Diary of Pierre Laval, Falcon Press Ltd. London, 1948.
Laval, Pierre, The Diary of Pierre Laval (With a Preface by his daughter, Josée Laval), New York: Scribner's Sons, 1948
Le Procés Laval: Compte-rendu sténographique, Maurice Garçon (Editor), Paris: Albin Michel, 1946
Letan, Michel, Pierre Laval – de l'armistice au Poteau, Paris: Éditions de la Couronne, 1947
Mallet, Pierre Laval, Paris: Amiot Dumont, 1955, Volume I and II.
Pannetier, Odette, Pierre Laval, Paris: Denoél et Steele, 1936
Paxton, Robert O., Vichy France, Old Guard and New Order 1940–1944, New York: Columbia University Press, 1972 (1982)
Pertinax, The Gravediggers of France, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1944
Privat, Maurice, Pierre Laval, Paris: Editions Les Documents secrets, 1931
Privat, Maurice, Pierre Laval, cet inconnu, Paris: Fourner-Valdés, 1948
Saurel, Louis, La Fin de Pierre Laval, Paris: Éditions Rouff, 1965
Thompson, David, Two Frenchman, Pierre Laval and Charles de Gaulle, London: The Cresset Press, 1951
Volcker, Sebastian, Laval 1931, A Diplomatic Study, Thesis, University of Richmond, 1998
Weygand, General Maxime, Mémoires, Vol. III, Paris: Flammarion, 1950
The London Evening Standard, 15,16,and 17 October 1945 (cover pages).
A collection containing all of the books and other reference material listed in the Notes and References as well as many other items concerning Pierre Laval are housed in the Donald Prell Pierre Laval Collection in the Special Collections Library at the University of California Riverside:!

External links

NAZI diplomacy: Vichy, 1940
View auction of Laval's possessions in 1944
The short film A GERMAN IS TRIED FOR MURDER [ETC. (1945)] is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
Pierre Laval: Devil's Advocate at, Learn Law, Law's Hall of Shame

Political offices
Preceded by
Victor Peytral Minister of Transportation
1925 Succeeded by
Anatole de Monzie
Preceded by
René Renoult Minister of Justice
1926 Succeeded by
Maurice Colrat
Preceded by
Louis Loucheur Minister of Labour and Social Security Provisions
1930 Succeeded by
Édouard Grinda
Preceded by
Théodore Steeg President of the Council
1931–1932 Succeeded by
André Tardieu
Preceded by
Georges Leygues Minister of the Interior
1931–1932 Succeeded by
Pierre Cathala
Preceded by
Aristide Briand Minister of Foreign Affairs
1932 Succeeded by
André Tardieu
Preceded by
Adolphe Landry Minister of Labour and Social Security Provisions
1932 Succeeded by
Albert Dalimier
Preceded by
Henry de Jouvenel Minister of Colonies
1934 Succeeded by
Louis Rollin
Preceded by
Louis Barthou Minister of Foreign Affairs
1934–1936 Succeeded by
Pierre Étienne Flandin
Preceded by
Fernand Bouisson President of the Council
1935–1936 Succeeded by
Albert Sarraut
Preceded by
Philippe Pétain Vice President of the Council
1940 Succeeded by

Preceded by
Paul Baudoin Minister of Foreign Affairs
1940 Succeeded by
Pierre Étienne Flandin
Preceded by
Philippe Pétain President of the Council
1942–1944 Succeeded by
Charles de Gaulle
Preceded by
François Darlan Minister of Foreign Affairs
1942–1944 Succeeded by
Georges Bidault
Preceded by
Pierre Pucheu Minister of the Interior
1942–1944 Succeeded by
Adrien Tixier
Preceded by
Paul Marion Minister of Information
1942–1944 Succeeded by
Pierre-Henri Teitgen
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Baudouin Laval Flandin Darlan Laval


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Bidault Schuman Bidault Mendès France Faure Pinay Pineau Pleven Couve de Murville

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Jimmy Carter (1976) Anwar Sadat (1977) Deng Xiaoping (1978) Ayatollah Khomeini (1979) Ronald Reagan (1980) Lech Wałęsa (1981) The Computer (1982) Ronald Reagan / Yuri Andropov (1983) Peter Ueberroth (1984) Deng Xiaoping (1985) Corazon Aquino (1986) Mikhail Gorbachev (1987) The Endangered Earth (1988) Mikhail Gorbachev (1989) George H. W. Bush (1990) Ted Turner (1991) Bill Clinton (1992) The Peacemakers: Yasser Arafat / F. W. de Klerk / Nelson Mandela / Yitzhak Rabin (1993) Pope John Paul II (1994) Newt Gingrich (1995) David Ho (1996) Andrew Grove (1997) Bill Clinton / Ken Starr (1998) Jeffrey P. Bezos (1999) George W. Bush (2000)


Rudolph Giuliani (2001) The Whistleblowers: Cynthia Cooper / Coleen Rowley / Sherron Watkins (2002) The American Soldier (2003) George W. Bush (2004) The Good Samaritans: Bono / Bill Gates / Melinda Gates (2005) You (2006) Vladimir Putin (2007) Barack Obama (2008) Ben Bernanke (2009) Mark Zuckerberg (2010) The Protester (2011) Barack Obama (2012)

Wikipedia book Book:Time Persons of the Year
The Holocaust in France

Main article
The Holocaust
Related articles by country


Vel' d'Hiv Roundup Drancy


Andrée Borrel Per Jacobsen Vera Leigh Tor Njaa Sonya Olschanezky Marcel Pourchier Diana Rowden


Otto Abetz Ernst Achenbach Horst Ahnert Klaus Barbie Werner Best Kurt Blanke Karl Bömelburg Alois Brunner Theodor Dannecker Hans-Dietrich Ernst Herbert Hagen Ernst Heinrichsohn Helmut Knochen Kurt Lischka Carl Oberg Heinz Röthke Carltheo Zeitschel

Nazi occupation and organizations



René Bousquet François Darlan Louis Darquier de Pellepoix Pierre Laval Maurice Papon Philippe Pétain Paul Touvier André Tulard Xavier Vallat


Drancy Gurs Camp des Milles Camp de Rivesaltes Fort de Romainville Vernet Natzweiler-Struthof (subcamps) Royallieu-Compiègne Pithiviers Beaune-la-Rolande


Anthony Faramus Antoinette Feuerwerker David Feuerwerker Alf Grindrud Albert Guérisse Asbjørn Halvorsen Arne Brun Lie Kristian Ottosen Boris Pahor Haakon Sørbye Brian Stonehouse Rose Warfman Prince Xavier of Bourbon-Parma


Statute on Jews Timeline of deportations to death camps

Righteous among the Nations

Albert Bedane Marc Boegner Le Chambon-sur-Lignon Château de Chabannes Jacques Ellul Pierre-Marie Gerlier Justin Godart Père Jacques Père Marie-Benoît René de Naurois Paul Ramadier Germaine Ribière Jules-Géraud Saliège Pierre-Marie Théas André and Magda Trocmé


Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees from France Rivesaltes Memorial List of Holocaust memorials and museums

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with my pleasure
Posted: Sunday, October 15, 2017 4:47:12 PM

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The execution of Pierre Laval

Pierre Laval was shot to-day at 12.32 after a vain attempt to poison himself had delayed his execution. [Laval had been Vichy prime minister, detested notably for a scheme by which one French prisoner of war was released for every three French skilled workers sent to work in Germany. He was convicted of treason.]

When his advocates told him last night that General de Gaulle would not commute the sentence or the Minister of Justice order a retrial, Laval had been composed and cheerful. When this morning at 8.45am, Mornet, the Procurator General, came to him to inform him that he was to be executed at 9.30, Laval was lying in bed.

Without replying, he put his head under the blankets. His advocates thought that he had had a moment of weakness and one of them raised the blanket to ask him to master himself, but saw at once from Laval's appearance that he must have taken poison. He was already losing consciousness. He had in fact drunk from a bottle of cyanide of potassium which he still held, but in his hurry he had not drained the bottle and had not shaken it before drinking. Immediate medical attention prevented his attempted suicide, and half an hour later Laval was again conscious. A letter by his bedside ran as follows:

To my advocates - for their information: to my executioners - for their shame. I refuse to be killed by French bullets. I will not make French soldiers accomplices in a judicial murder. I have chosen my death - the poison of the Romans, which I have carried with me through my long wanderings and which has escaped the searchings of my guards.

I wish to be buried with the Tricolour scarf round my neck. I die because I loved my country too much. My last thought is for France.

While Laval was being restored to the degree of consciousness required by French law for a man to be executed, the firing squad was brought from the Fort of Chatillon, where the execution was originally to have taken place, to the prison at Fresnes. Laval put on one of the white ties which he had worn for years and wrapped the Tricolour scarf round his neck.

Arrived at the place of execution, he said to the Procurator General, "I pity you for the work you have done." Turning to the soldiers he said, "I pity you for having to execute this crime. Aim at my heart. Long live France!" At his request his eyes were not bandaged, but he was not allowed to give the order to fire.

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