Pierre Laval

Pierre Laval


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Pierre Laval was born in Auvergnac, France, on 28th June, 1883. After obtaining degrees in law and natural sciences he went into business.

A member of the Socialist Party, Laval was elected to parliament in 1903. On the outbreak of the First World War Laval joined the French Army.

After the war Laval political views changed dramatically and he re-entered the Chamber of Deputies as a right-wing conservative. One opponent pointed out that this was no surprising as Laval reads the same from the left or the right.

Over the next few years he held several cabinet posts including foreign minister and was prime minister in 1931-32 and 1935-36. During his periods of office he worked closely with Aristide Briand to establish good relations with Germany and the Soviet Union.

In October 1935 Laval joined with H, Britain's foreign secretary, in an effort to resolve the crisis created by the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The secret agreement, known as the Hoare-Laval Pact, proposed that Italy would receive two-thirds of the territory it conquered as well as permission to enlarge existing colonies in East Africa. In return, Ethiopia was to receive a narrow strip of territory and access to the sea. Details of the Hoare-Laval Pact was leaked to the press on 10th December, 1935. The scheme was widely denounced as appeasement of Italian aggression and Laval and Hoare were both forced to resign.

Laval returned to pursue his business career and built up a commercial empire based on newspapers, printing, and radio. When the German Army occupied France in 1940 Laval used his media empire to support Henri-Philippe Petain and the Vichy government. He also used his influence in the National Assembly to give Petain dictatorial powers. Two days later on 12th July 1940, Laval was named as head of the government and Petain's legal successor.

Laval developed a close relationship with Otto Abetz, the German ambassador in France, and on 22nd October, 1940, he met Adolf Hitler and proposed that the two countries should work closely together. At another meeting with Hermann Goering later that month Laval suggested a military alliance with Nazi Germany.

Some members of the government became concerned about these developments and on 13th December 1940, Henri-Philippe Petain ordered the sacking of Laval. He was also briefly arrested but Otto Abetz sent in troops to have him released and he was taken to Paris where he lived under the protection of the German Army. However on 27th August, 1941, a young student, Paul Collette, managed to fire four shots into Laval while seeing off French volunteer troops to take part in Operation Barbarossa.

Laval recovered and by the spring of 1942 he was ready to return to political life. After coming under increasing pressure from Otto Abetz, the German ambassador, Henri-Philippe Petain agreed on 18th April 1942 to recall Laval as head of the French government.

Laval now ordered the French police to begin rounding up Jews in France. He also took the controversial decision in June 1942 to send skilled labourers to Germany in exchange for French prisoners of war. In September he gave permission for the Gestapo to hunt down the French Resistance in unoccupied France.

In January, 1943, Laval created Milice, a political police force under the leadership of Joseph Darnard. Within six months their were over 35,000 men in the force and were playing the leading role in capturing Jews and left-wing activists and having them deported to Nazi Germany.

After the D-Day Landings Laval moved his government to Belfort. With the allied forces making good progress Laval retreated to Sigmaringen and in May 1945 he fled to Spain. He was interned in Barcelona and on 30th July was handed over to the new French government headed by General Charles De Gaulle.

Pierre Laval was charged with aiding the enemy and violating state security. He was found guilty and was shot by a firing squad at Fresnes Prison in Paris on 15th October, 1945.

I want to tell you that I think this war is a great mistake. If we had come to terms with Mussolini, as I wanted to do, we might have held Germany. That is no longer possible. We have given most of Europe to Hitler. Let us try to hold on to what we have got left. I am a peasant from the Auvergne. I want to keep my farm, and I want to keep France. Nothing else matters now.

The Fuhrer considers the conduct of the French government towards Laval a personal affront. While Germany did not want to impair the French government's freedom of action in any way in case of a French refusal (to reinstate him) she would not continue the policy of co-operation which had been made possible at Montoire.

There is very bad news in the fact that Laval has returned to the French Cabinet. Laval is a French millionaire who has been known for many years to be a direct agent of the Nazi Government. He played a leading part in the intrigues which led to the downfall of France and since the Armistice has steadily worked for what is called

'collaboration' between France and Germany, meaning that France should throw in its lot with the Axis, send an army to take part in the war against Russia, and use the French Fleet against Britain. For over a year he has been kept out of office, thanks to American pressure, and his return probably means that diplomatic relations between France and the USA will now come to an end. The American Government is already recalling it's ambassador and has advised its nationals to leave France. This is perhaps no bad thing in itself, for there is very little doubt that German submarines operating in the Atlantic have habitually made use of French ports, both in Africa and in the West Indies, and the fact that France and America were theoretically on friendly terms has made these manoeuvres harder to deal with. If relations are broken off, the Americans will at any rate not feel that their hands are tied by the so-called neutrality of France. Nevertheless, there is very great danger that at some critical moment Laval may succeed in throwing the French Fleet into battle against the British Navy, which is already struggling against the combined navies of three nations.

In the event of a victory over Germany by Soviet Russia and England, Bolshevism in Europe would inevitably follow. Under these circumstances I would prefer to see Germany win the war. I feel that an understanding could be reached (with Germany) which would result in a lasting peace with Europe and believe that a German victory is preferable to a British and Soviet victory.

Clearly, for France in her present position, intelligence consists of practicing a policy of entente with Germany in order to survive. But the same intelligence compels Germany to practise the same policy. I defy anyone - and I have said this to the Germans - to build a solid, articulated, and viable Europe without France's consent. France cannot be destroyed. She is an old country who, despite her misfortunes, has, and always will have, thanks to her past, a tremendous prestige in the world, whatever the fate inflicted upon her.

If the Germans are beaten, General de Gaulle will return. He will be supported by 80 or 90 per cent of the French people and I shall be hanged.

Workers of France, it is for the freedom of the prisoners that you will go to work in Germany! It is for our country that you will go in large numbers! It is in order that France may find her place in the new Europe that you will respond to my appeal.

The figure of Pierre Laval hung like an evil shadow over Vichy as the year opened. The former Prime Minister was a shrewd and able politician who staked his own future and that of France on an Axis victory. He was favoured by the German occupation authorities. A test of strength between Germany and the United States in Vichy was in the making as 1942 opened. It was to result in April in a temporary

victory for Laval when the Germans forced the Marshal to take him back into the Government, which event necessitated my recall to Washington.

He was a small man, swarthy-complexioned, careless in his personal appearance, but with a pleasing manner of speech. In a very frank discussion of his policies, Laval gave the impression of being fanatically devoted to his country, with a conviction that the interests of France were bound irrevocably with those of Germany. One's impression necessarily was qualified by persistent reports that he had used his political

offices to advance his private personal fortune. It was true that, starting with nothing, he had advanced from a poor delivery boy in a provincial town grocery to become a very rich man and a power in his country.

He convinced me that his Government was fully committed and might be expected to go as far as it could to collaborate with Germany and assist in the defeat of what he termed Soviet-British Bolshevism. Pierre Laval definitely was not on our side in this war.

Laval never suspected the inhuman system and the atrocities to which the people who were arrested and deported to the east were subjected. If he had known, none of the considerations which compelled him to hang on to a government of the country, however serious, would have retained their validity. He would have denounced the fact before the civilized world and would have refused any contact with the representatives of a government indulging in such acts of barbarism.

It is neither the statesman nor the friend who is asking your help and assistance, but simply the man. I ask you in my own name as well as in that of my wife and my faithful friend, Maurice Gabolde, for permission to enter Spain and await for better days. Today it is a tired and worn-out old man who is writing to you and, in memory of our long friendship, I thank you in advance.


LAVAL, PIERRE (1883–1945)

Head of the Vichy government in France during World War II considered by many to be the evil mastermind of collaboration.

Pierre Laval was born in Châteldon, in the Auvergne, to a family of shopkeepers. He did well in school, earning his Certificate of Primary Studies at twelve. In spite of his father's insistence that he work in the family business, Laval earned his baccalaureate in 1902. After a year of military service in the infantry in 1903, Laval was discharged as unfit for service owing to varicose veins.


Pierre Laval: The Man in the White Tie

Richard Wilkinson exposes prejudice and myth in assessing the career of a key figure in modern French history.

Churchill's siren-suit, Chamberlain's umbrella, Harold Wilson's gannex, Baldwin's pipe, Mrs. Thatcher's hand-bag - all are appropriate. But Pierre Laval's white ties, sported from his campaign for a parliamentary seat in 1914 until his execution in October 1945, seem bizarre. Contemporaries and historians unite in stressing his reputation for wheeler-dealing, hence his nickname 'the horse-trader'. His apparent lack of principle prompted Vincent Auriol to maintain that 'everything about him is black, his clothes, his face, his soul. Whether you spell his name backwards or forwards, he will always be Laval'. The British historian David Thomson stressed that 'it was his policies that were shabby, not his clothes', while Alfred Cobban called him 'one of nature's go-betweens'. Marshal Pétain, who headed the Vichy administration in France from 1940 to 1945, was even ruder about his right-hand man: 'Ce Laval - quel fumier! ' ('What horse-shit!')

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Contents

Early Milice volunteers included members of France's pre-war far-right parties (such as the Action Française) and working-class men convinced of the benefits of the Vichy government's politics. In addition to ideology, incentives for joining the Milice included employment, regular pay and rations. (The latter became particularly important as the war continued, and civilian rations dwindled to near-starvation levels.) Some joined because members of their families had been killed or injured in Allied bombing raids or had been threatened, extorted or attacked by French Resistance groups. Still others joined for more mundane reasons: petty criminals were recruited by being told their sentences would be commuted if they joined the organization, and Milice volunteers were exempt from transportation to Germany as forced labour. [3] It is estimated by several historians (including Julian T. Jackson) that the Milice's membership reached 25,000–30,000 by 1944, although official figures are difficult to obtain. The majority of members were not full-time militiamen, but devoted only a few hours per week to their Milice activities. [4] The Milice had a section for full-time members, the Franc-Garde, who were permanently mobilized and lived in barracks. [4]

The Milice also had youth sections for boys and girls, called the Avant-Garde. [4]

Emblem Edit

The chosen emblem for the Milice carried the Greek letter γ (gamma), the symbol of the Aries astrological sign in the Zodiac, ostensibly representing rejuvenation, and replenishment of energy. The color scheme chosen was silver in blue background within a red circle for ordinary miliciens, white in black background for the arm-carrying militants, and white in red background for the active combatants.

March Edit

Their march was Le Chant des Cohortes . [5]

Uniform Edit

Milice troops (known as miliciens) wore a blue uniform jacket and trousers, a brown shirt and a wide blue beret. (During active paramilitary-style operations, an Adrian helmet was used, which commonly featured the emblem, either painted on or as a badge) Its newspaper was Combats (not to be confused with the underground Resistance newspaper, Combat). The Milice's armed forces were officially known as the Franc-Garde. Contemporary photographs show the Milice armed with a variety of weapons captured from Allied forces.

Ranks [6] Edit

Beginnings Edit

The Resistance targeted individual miliciens for assassination, often in public areas such as cafés and streets. On 24 April 1943 they shot and killed Paul de Gassovski, a milicien in Marseilles. By late November, Combat reported that 25 miliciens had been killed and 27 wounded in Resistance attacks.

Reprisals Edit

The most prominent person killed by the Resistance was Philippe Henriot, the Vichy regime's Minister of Information and Propaganda, who was known as "the French Goebbels". He was killed in his apartment in the Ministry of Information on the rue Solferino in the predawn hours of 28 June 1944 by résistants dressed as miliciens. His wife, who was in the same room, was spared. The Milice retaliated for this by killing several well-known anti-Nazi politicians and intellectuals (such as Victor Basch) and prewar conservative leader Georges Mandel.

The Milice initially operated in the former Zone libre of France under the control of the Vichy regime. In January 1944, the radicalized Milice moved into what had been the zone occupée of France (including Paris). They established their headquarters in the old Communist Party headquarters at 44 rue Le Peletier and at 61 rue Monceau. (The house was formerly owned by the Menier family, makers of France's best-known chocolates.) The Lycée Louis-Le-Grand was occupied as a barracks, and an officer candidate school was established in the Auteuil synagogue.

Notable actions Edit

Perhaps the largest and best-known operation undertaken by the Milice was the Battle of Glières, its attempt in March 1944 to suppress the Resistance in the département of Haute-Savoie (in southeastern France, near the Swiss border). [9] The Milice could not overcome the Resistance, and had to call in German troops to complete the operation. On Bastille Day, 14 July 1944, the Franc-Garde suppressed a revolt started by prisoners at Paris prison La Santé, as a result 34 prisonners were killed. [10]

The legal standing of the Milice was never clarified by the Vichy government it operated parallel to (but separate from) the Groupe mobile de réserve and other Vichy French police forces. The Milice operated outside civilian law, and its actions were not subject to judicial review or control. [ citation needed ]

End of the war Edit

In August 1944, as the tide of war was shifting and fearing he would be held accountable for the operations of the Milice, Marshal Philippe Pétain sought to distance himself from the organization by writing a harsh letter rebuking Darnand for the organization's "excesses." [ citation needed ] Darnand's response suggested that Pétain ought to have voiced his objections sooner. [ citation needed ]

Historians [ which? ] have debated the strength of the organization, but it was probably between 25,000 and 35,000 (including part-time members and non-combatants) by the time of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. [ citation needed ] The membership began melting away rapidly thereafter. [ when? ] Following the Liberation of France, members who failed to flee to Germany (where they were impressed [ citation needed ] into the Charlemagne Division of the Waffen-SS) or elsewhere, generally faced imprisonment for treason, execution following courts-martial or murder by vengeful résistants and civilians. During a period of unofficial reprisals immediately following on the German retreat, large numbers of miliciens were executed, either individually or in groups. [ citation needed ] Milice offices throughout France were ransacked with agents often being brutally beaten and then thrown from office windows, or into rivers before being taken to prison. [ citation needed ] At Le Grand-Bornand 76 captured members of the Milice were executed by French Forces of the Interior on 24 August 1944. [11]

Aftermath Edit

An unknown number of miliciens managed to escape prison or execution, either by going underground or fleeing abroad. A few were later prosecuted. The most notable of these was Paul Touvier, the former commander of the Milice in Lyon. In 1994, he was convicted of ordering the retaliatory execution of seven Jews at Rillieux-la-Pape. He died in prison two years later.


A Question of Guilt: Pierre Laval and the Vichy Regime

Scapegoat or quisling extraordinaire? Douglas Johnson probes the motives and actions of Vichy's chief minister to find insularity and gamesmanship his fatal flaws.

It is difficult for a historian to know what use, if any, he should make of opinion polls which are directed to past events and personalities. This is not only because most questionnaires which seek to test the knowledge of those questioned invariably reveal a considerable ignorance, but also because polls about the past are particularly liable to manipulation. However, there is a certain significance in the enquiry carried out by Figaro Magazine, in May 1980, which purported to show that 66 per cent of the French people refused to condemn Marshal Petain for the role that he played during the years 1940 to 1944, whilst another poll carried out by Nouvelles litteraires in the same year with regard to Pierre Laval shows that 33 per cent approved of his execution (and would have voted for the death penalty had the trial taken place again), 19 per cent would have sent him to prison for life and only 2 per cent would have acquitted him (the remainder being undecided).

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World War II Database


ww2dbase Pierre Laval was born in Châteldon in the Puy-de-Dôme département of the Auvergne region of France. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1903, major of Aubervilliers in 1924, and Senator in 1927. He served three terms as Prime Minister of France in the 1930s. His career of the 1930s was marked by his appeasement policy toward Italian aggression, which ultimately led to his resignation on 22 Jan 1936 after the Hoare-Laval Pact scandal. When France became occupied by German forces, he supported the collaborationist Philippe Pétain and was named Vice Premier on 12 Jul 1940 then Prime Minister on 18 April 1942 (with additional roles as Information Minister, Interior Minister, and Foreign Minister). As the second-in-command of the Vichy government, he was friendly toward Berlin and cooperated with German demands in terms of policy, including anti-Semitic policies and the export of forced French labor to German munitions factories. When the Allied forces invaded France, the Vichy government fled to Germany, where it fell apart as the Allied forces continued to advance. In May 1945 Laval fled to Spain, but was deported to Austria where he was turned in to the French. He was found guilty of treason against France and was sentenced to death by firing squad. He attempted a suicide at Fresnes prison the day of his execution, but failed as his cyanide capsule had lost its potency. His sentence was carried out with him still sick and vomiting from the cyanide.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jun 2006

Pierre Laval Timeline

28 Jun 1883 Pierre Laval was born.
27 Jan 1931 Pierre Laval became the 101st Prime Minister of France.
20 Feb 1932 Pierre Laval stepped down as the Prime Minister of France.
7 Jun 1935 Pierre Laval became the 112th Prime Minister of France.
24 Jan 1936 Pierre Laval stepped down as the Prime Minister of France.
11 Jul 1940 Pierre Laval became the 120th Prime Minister of France with the title of the Vice President of the Council.
28 Oct 1940 Pierre Laval became the Foreign Minister of Vichy France.
13 Dec 1940 Pierre Laval was dismissed as the Vice President of the Council, which in effect was the Prime Minister of France. He was placed under arrest shortly after.
15 Dec 1940 Pierre Laval was freed from imprisonment.
8 Feb 1941 Philippe Pétain offered Pierre Laval a cabinet seat in the Vichy government, but the offer was declined.
25 May 1941 Pierre Laval criticized the Vichy French government during an interview with American journalist Ralph Heinzen in Paris, France.
25 Aug 1941 Pierre Laval was shot four times by student Paul Collete as he saw off French volunteers going off to fight with the Germans in Russia. Laval survived the assassination attempt, but was seriously wounded particularly by a bullet that penetrated his body about an inch from his heart.
26 Aug 1941 Paul Collete was arrested after shooting and wounding Pierre Laval Laval would recommend giving Collete a light sentence, citing that the young man was likely only a pawn used by more senior plotters behind the scenes.
30 Sep 1941 Pierre Laval was discharged from the hospital after recovering from the wounds sustained during the unsuccessful assassination attempt against him on 25 Aug 1941.
26 Mar 1942 French politician Pierre Laval warned Chief of State Philippe Pétain that it was important to cooperate with the Germans to avoid Berlin from appointing a Nazi Party Gauleiter for Vichy France.
14 Apr 1942 Pierre Laval was named Chief of Government with special powers in Vichy France.
18 Apr 1942 Pierre Laval became the 123rd Prime Minister of France.
18 Nov 1942 Marshal Philippe Pétain signed a constitutional document permitting Prime Minister Pierre Laval to make laws and issue decrees on his own signature only.
20 Aug 1944 Pierre Laval stepped down as the Prime Minister of France.
31 Jul 1945 Pierre Laval surrendered in Austria.
15 Oct 1945 Pierre Laval was executed for treason.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
3 Jun 2014 08:44:35 AM

No mention of French pow swap for French workers sent to germany

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Pierre Laval

Pierre Laval was a French politician. During the time of the Third Republic, he served as Prime Minister of France from 27 January 1931 to 20 February 1932, and also headed another government from 7 June 1935 to 24 January 1936.

Laval began his career as a socialist, but over time drifted far to the right. Following France's surrender and armistice with Germany in 1940, he served in the Vichy Regime. He took a prominent role under Philippe Pétain, first as the vice-president of Vichy's Council of Ministers from 11 July 1940 to 13 December 1940, and later as the head of government from 18 April 1942 to 20 August 1944.

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 after a thwarted suicide attempt, he was executed by firing squad. His manifold political activities have left a complicated and controversial legacy, and there are more than a dozen biographies of him.

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 lycພ to study for his baccalaurບt. Returning south to Lyon, he spent the next year reading for a degree in zoology.

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

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. 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.

Marriage and family Shortly after becoming a member of the Paris bar, he married the daughter of a Dr Joseph Claussat and set up a home in Paris with his new wife. Their only child, a daughter called Josພ Laval, was born in 1911. Josພ married René de Chambrun, whose uncle, Nicholas Longworth III, married Alice Roosevelt, daughter of United States President Theodore Roosevelt. Although Laval's wife came from a political family, she never participated in politics.

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. In April 1914, as fear of war swept the nation, the Socialists and Radicals geared up their electoral campaign in defence 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 Confຝération générale du travail trade union sought Laval as Socialist candidate for the Seine, the district comprising Paris and its suburbs. 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.

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 ಝouard 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." The words delighted the assembly and attracted the attention of George Clemenceau, but left the relationship between Laval and Herriot permanently strained.

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 defence 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.

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

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 existed only in Aubervilliers. In a four-way race, Laval won in the second round. He served as mayor of Aubervilliers until just before his death.

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.

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.

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 organisations. 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".[12] 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 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."[citation needed] 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."

At this time, Laval was opposed to Germany, the "hereditary enemy" of France, and he pursued anti-German alliances. 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 her a free hand in Abyssinia, in exchange for support against any German aggression. Laval denied that he gave Mussolini a free hand in Abyssinia he even wrote to Il Duce on the subject. In April 1935, Laval persuaded Italy and Great Britain to join France in the Stresa Front against German ambitions in Austria. On 2 May 1935, he likewise signed the Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance.

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." 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."[27] Weygand had avoided using the word armistice, but it was on the minds of all those involved. Only Reynaud was in opposition.

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. 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 realised 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. 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 criticising the government's decision to leave France for North Africa.

Laval in the Vichy government, 1940�[edit] By this time, Laval now openly sympathized with fascism. He was convinced that Germany would win the war, and felt France needed to emulate its totalitarian regime as much as possible. To that end, when he was included in the cabinet as minister of state, Laval set about with the work for which he would be remembered: dismantling the Third Republic and its democracy and taking up the fascist cause.

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 to get the most. 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". The meetings between Pétain and Adolf Hitler, and between Laval and Hitler, are often used to show that collaboration with the Nazis. In fact Montoire (24� October 1940) was a disappointment to both sides. Hitler wanted France to declare war on Britain, and the French wanted improved relations with her conqueror. Neither happened. Virtually the only concession the French obtained was the 'Berlin protocol' of 16 November 1940, which provided release of certain categories of French prisoners of war.

Laval's actions were a factor in his dismissal on 13 December 1940. 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." 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 a fundamental incompatibility with Pétain. Laval's methods of working appeared slovenly to Petain's precise military mind, and he showed a marked lack of deference, instanced by a habit of blowing cigarette smoke in Pétain's face. By doing so he aroused Pétain's irritation and the anger of the entire cabinet.

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. The Reich was short of skilled labour due to its need for troop replacements on the Russian front. Unlike other occupied countries, France was technically protected by the armistice, and its workers could not be simply rounded up for transportation. In the occupied zone, the Germans used intimidation and control of raw materials to create unemployment and thus reasons for French labourers to volunteer to work in Germany. Nazi officials demanded Laval send more than 300,000 skilled workers immediately to factories in Germany. Laval delayed making a counter-offer of one worker in return for one French POW. The proposal was sent to Hitler, and a compromise was reached: one prisoner of war to be repatriated for every three workers arriving in Germany.

Laval's precise role in the deportation of Jews 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. He allowed only those Jews who were not French citizens to be forfeited to German control. It was estimated that by the end of the war, the Germans had killed 90 percent of the Jewish population in 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. Laval went beyond the orders given to him by the Germans, as he included 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 Marc Boegner visited Laval 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".[39] 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 (in a reliably sourced book, but lacking citations) claims that Laval also attempted to prevent Jewish children gaining visas to America, arranged by the American Friends Service Committee. Fishman asserts Laval was not so much committed to expelling Jewish children from France, as making sure they reached Nazi camps.

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, requiring Vichy to declare war against Britain. Laval and Pétain agreed to maintain a firm refusal. During this time and the Normandy landings in 1944, Laval was in a struggle against ultra-collaborationist ministers.

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 1944 what was left of the Vichy government was moved from Belfort to the Sigmaringen enclave in Germany. Pétain took residence at the Hohenzollern castle in Sigmaringen. At first Laval also resided in this castle. In January 1945 Laval was assigned to the Stauffenberg castle of Ernst Juenger/Wilflingen 12 km outside the Sigmaringen enclave. By April 1945 US General George S. Patton's army approached Sigmaringen, so the Vichy ministers were forced to seek their own refuge. Laval received permission to enter Spain and was flown to Barcelona by a Luftwaffe plane. However, 90 days later, De Gaulle pressured Spain to expel Laval. The same Luftwaffe plane that flew him to Spain flew him to the American-occupied zone of Austria. The American authorities immediately arrested Laval and his wife and turned them over to the Free French. They were flown to Paris to be imprisoned at Fresnes Prison. Madame Laval was later released Pierre Laval remained in prison to be tried as a traitor.

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. Scholars including Robert Paxton and Geoffrey Warner believe that Laval's trial demonstrated the inadequacies of the judicial system and the poisonous political atmosphere of that purge-trial era. During his imprisonment pending the verdict of his treason trial, Laval wrote his only book, his posthumously published Diary (1948). His daughter, Josພ de Chambrun, smuggled it out of the prison page by page. 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-Frຝéric 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."[52]

All three of his lawyers declined to be in court to hear the reading of the formal charges, saying "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 as counsel.[53] The court carried on without them. The president of the court, Pierre Mongibeaux, announced the trial had to be completed before the general election scheduled for 21 October.[54] Mongibeaux and Mornet, the public prosecutor, were 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.[55]

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. To the charge of collaboration Laval replied, "Monsieur le Président, 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 called the first of the prosecution witnesses, but they had not expected to give evidence so soon and none were present. Mongibeaux 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.[56]

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. A sentence of death was handed down in Laval's absence. His lawyers were refused a re-trial. The execution was fixed for the morning of 15 October at Fresnes Prison. Laval attempted to cheat the firing squad by taking poison from a phial stitched inside the lining of his jacket. 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.[58] Laval requested that his lawyers witness his execution. He was shot shouting "Vive la France!" Shouts of "Murderers!" and "Long live Laval!" were apparently heard from the prison.[59] 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." His corpse was initially buried in an unmarked grave in the Thiais cemetery, until it was buried in the Chambrun family mausoleum at the Montparnasse Cemetery in November. His daughter, Josພ Laval, wrote a letter to Churchill in 1948, suggesting the firing squad who killed her father "wore British uniforms". The letter was published in the June 1949 issue of Human Events, an American conservative newspaper. The High Court, which functioned until 1949, judged 108 cases it pronounced eight death penalties, including one for an elderly Pétain, whose appeal failed. 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.[65]


Pierre Laval

(1883–1945). A politician who was twice elected premier of France, Pierre Laval led the government established at Vichy to collaborate with Germany during World War II. He was ultimately executed as a traitor to his country.

Pierre Laval was born on June 28, 1883, in Châteldon, France. He joined the Socialist party at the age of 20, became a lawyer in Paris in 1909, and began defending trade unionists and others on the political left. He held various public offices, beginning in 1914, and first became premier in 1931. Defeated a year later, Laval was reelected in 1935, but his cabinet fell in 1936. In 1940 he became vice-premier under Marshal Henri Pétain.

After Paris was occupied by German forces, Pétain had formed a fascist state at Vichy. Laval helped persuade Pétain that the Third Republic should be dissolved, but Pétain eventually opposed the close Franco-German collaboration advocated by Laval. Pétain dismissed him in December 1940.

Under pressure from Germany, Pétain restored Laval’s power, and he became head of the Vichy government in April 1942. Laval agreed to provide French laborers for German industries and, in a notorious speech asking for volunteers in June 1942, he announced that he desired a German victory. His control of France deteriorated with the growth of the resistance movement against the German occupation. After the Vichy government collapsed in August 1944, Laval fled to Spain. He returned to France in July 1945 and was put on trial for treason. He was executed, after attempting to poison himself, on Oct. 15, 1945, in Paris.


Pierre Laval

Prime Minister of France 1931–2, 1935–6 French dictator 1940, 1942–5 A student of law, he became an advocate of the working classes and joined the Socialist Party in 1903. He became a parliamentary Deputy in 1914, but was increasingly at odds with his party owing to his opposition to the war. He was defeated at the polls in 1919, left the Socialists in 1920, but returned to the Chamber of Deputies as an independent in 1924, again representing the Parisian working-class district of Aubervilliers. After entering the Senate in 1927 he continued gradually to shift to the right, so that in his first period as Prime Minister he tried unsuccessfully to cope with an economic crisis through a rigid policy of deflation. In his second period in office, the Saarland voted to return to Germany. He responded to national security concerns by concluding the French–Soviet Pact of 1935. Laval had to resign over his apparent condonation of Mussolini's conquests in the Abyssinian War.

Following the German invasion of France in 1940, Laval was instrumental in convincing the National Assembly to give Marshal Pétain full powers to revise the constitution of the Third Republic. He fully supported Pétain's desire to collaborate with Germany, and on 22 June 1942 announced his hope that Germany would win the war. He hoped to turn France into Germany's ‘favourite province’, and thus to avoid direct German rule as had happened in Poland, though this hope was betrayed in late 1942 when Vichy France was occupied by German troops. Laval had been dismissed as Pétain's Chief Minister in December 1940 owing to personality clashes with the marshal, but he had to be reinstated at German insistence in 1942. In 1945 he fled to Spain, but was handed over to Austria. The American occupying forces turned him over to France, where he was executed after a short trial.


History of Alfa Laval

Alfa Laval was founded in 1883. With the help of some of the most important milestones, you can follow Alfa Laval’s growth towards the large international group it has become today.

Alfa Laval&rsquos founder, Gustaf de Laval, is born in the province of Dalarna in Sweden.

After reading an article in the German periodical, Milchzeitung, Gustaf de Laval starts to work on the development of a centrifugal separator.

The first continuous separator is demonstrated in Stockholm. This separator has a capacity of 130 litres per hour.

Gustaf de Laval and his partner, Oscar Lamm, establish the company AB Separator. The De Laval Cream Separator Co. is formed in the U.S. which is the start of a continuously growing international establishment.

The first pumps are sold. They are used to pump skimmed milk from the centrifugal separator.

The German inventor, Clemens von Bechtolsheim&rsquos patent for conical metal discs is acquired. By using these so called Alfa-discs, the separator&rsquos capacity is increased many times over.

Alfa Laval introduces the world&rsquos first continuous separator using the Alfa disc stack technology. The first continuous milk pasteurizer is introduced.

The first yeast separator is installed in a customer&rsquos production line.

Gustaf de Laval begins to work on the design of a milking machine.

Gustaf de Laval dies at the age of 67. During his lifetime, he acquires 92 Swedish patents and establishes 37 companies. His memorial is engraved with the inscription: &ldquoThe Man of High Speed&rdquo.

Alfa Laval sells the first separator for oil purification.

1919 &ndash 1936

Subsidiaries are formed in Denmark, South Africa, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Yugoslavia and Ireland.

The world&rsquos first hermetic separator is introduced by Alfa Laval at an exhibition in Berlin.

Alfa-Laval introduces its first heat exchanger. Pontus Hytte, son of the famous Swedish painter Carl Larsson, moves the development and production of heat exchangers to Lund.

Sales of the &ldquoself-cleaning&rdquo centrifugal separator and decanter centrifuges begins.

The first automatic CIP (Cleaning-In-Place) system is installed in a Swedish dairy.

The first sterilization processing system is installed in Italy. This marks a major breakthrough in the dairy and liquid food-processing sector.

AB Rosenblad&rsquos patents are acquired, bringing the spiral heat exchanger as well as a series of industrial plate designs into the possession of AB Separator.

The company changes its name from AB Separator to Alfa-Laval AB. The name &ldquoAlfa&rdquo derives from the alpha discs and &ldquoLaval&rdquo from the founder of the company.

The first large computerized control system is delivered to a dairy in Switzerland. This system makes it possible to supervise and control the entire plant.

Alfa-Laval acquires a majority interest in the Danish company Lavrids Knudsens Maskinfabrik (LKM), marking Alfa-Laval&rsquos establishment in the fluid handling business.

This is a year of substantial investments. In Sweden, construction begins on a new manufacturing plant for marine separators in Tumba outside Stockholm. The Thermal Business Area in Lund starts construction of new offices and an international production centre for plate heat exchangers. In Spain, Alfa Laval expands its plants, offices and warehouses.

Alfa Laval strengthens its foothold in Japan by increasing its holdings in the Japanese firm Nagase-Alfa to 70 per cent and by establishing Alfa Laval Service K.K. as a wholly-owned company.

Tetra Pak, which provides packaging solutions to the food industry worldwide, and the Rausing family acquire Alfa Laval.

Alfa Laval becomes an independent industrial group within the Tetra Laval Group. Liquid food processing activities are integrated with Tetra Pak&rsquos business. Farm equipment and systems are reorganized into a new industrial group, Alfa Laval Agri.

A new factory for heat exchangers, fluid handling equipment and modules for the food and beverage industry was opened in Kaliningrad outside of Moscow. The factory is one of the most modern in Russia.

Alfa Laval launches an innovative oil treatment system for ships as well as the most advanced automated control of valves in the industry.

The investment company Industri Kapital buys the Alfa Laval Group. Industri Kapital&rsquos intention is to further develop Alfa Laval&rsquos global leadership within its key technologies Separation, Heat Transfer and Fluid Handling, with the intention of listing the shares publicly within a five-year period.

Major restructuring of Alfa Laval into market-oriented divisions and segments with distinct customer focus.

Alfa Laval returns to the Stockholm Stock Exchange. The main strategy is to create profitable growth, both organically and through acquisitions, which in 2002 include two Danish companies Danish Separation Systems A/S (DSS), a specialists in membrane filtration for the pharmaceutical and food industries, and the Toftejorg Group, the world&rsquos leading supplier of advanced tank cleaning systems.

AlfaNova, a major breakthrough in heat transfer, is launched. AlfaNova is a totally new type of plate heat exchanger, based on Alfa Laval&rsquos patented method of brazing the plates, called AlfaFusion. AlfaNova&rsquos extraordinary strengths in regard to temperatures, pressures and fatigue resistance open new and interesting possibilities in existing and future applications.

Lars Renström is appointed new CEO and President of the Alfa Laval Group. He has a solid and successful record within Swedish industrial companies. Alfa Laval and Haldex, a multinational supplier of vehicle technology, form a jointly owned company, Alfdex AB, to supply jointly developed solutions for cleaning crankcase gases from diesel engines to meet increasingly stricter emission regulations.

Packinox S.A. in France, a world leader in large, welded plate heat exchangers for oil and gas and refinery applications, is acquired. The company&rsquos recognized competence will result in strengthening Alfa Laval within these fields.

A very high demand in most of Alfa Laval&rsquos end markets &ndash primarily the energy and energy-related sectors &ndash contributes to the increase in order intake by 30 per cent from 2005. Tetra Pak&rsquos fruit concentrate unit is acquired, which means that Alfa Laval will penetrate this market through its own sales companies.

Alfa Laval takes important steps towards becoming a world-leading provider of air heat exchangers by acquiring Netherlands-based Helpman and Finnish Fincoil, both leading European suppliers of air heat exchangers. Helpman's products are used for commerical refrigeration, for example in the sensitive logistic chain for food. Fincoil is particularly strong within industrial power cooling.

Alfa Laval is an official partner to the Swedish pavillion at the World Expo in Shanghai: "Better City, Better Life".

Alfa Laval acquires Aalborg Industries and two years later the Norwegian company Frank Mohn which further strengthens Alfa Laval&rsquos presence within the marine and offshore markets.

Alfa Laval opens its Test and Training centre in Aalborg, Denmark, for marine products and applications.


Watch the video: Witness Laval 1945


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