The World at War


Camille Chautemps

French Politician

Born: February 1, 1885 at Paris
Died: July 1, 1963 at Washington

Premier of France:February 21 - 25, 1930
November 26, 1933 - January 27, 1934
June 29, 1937 - March 10, 1938 (3rd & 4th cabinets)

     A successful lawyer, he began his political career as Deputy Mayor of Tours in 1919 and went on to serve in nearly all Radical-Socialist cabinets until 1940.
     Chautemps headed short Center-Right governments from February 21 -25, 1930 and again from November 26, 1933 to January 27, 1934. His second government was forced to resign after a prominent member of the cabinet was implicated in the Stavisky Affair.
     Chautemps joined the Popular Front government elected in 1936 where he led opposition to intervention in the Spanish Civil War. He was appointed to head the Government once again on June 29, 1937 following the resignation of Leon Blum.
     Chautemps' final administration pursued policies that weakened the reforms of the Popular Front to gain the cooperation of conservative elements in solving the financial crisis. Its principle accomplishment was the creation of SNCF, the French National Railway in January 1938. He was unsuccessful in dealing with the foreign crisis and was ousted from leadership on March 10, 1938 following Hitler's annexation of Austria.
     An early supporter of the campaign that brought Marshal Petain to power, he was also the first member of the cabinet to suggest that France seek an armistice in 1940.
     Chautemps was replaced as Deputy Premier after the Marshal assumed full powers (an official biography states that he was too Republican and too Free Mason for Vichy). Petain dispatched him on a diplomatic mission to the United States where he remained until his death in 1963.
     After the Liberation, Chautemps was tried in absentia by a French court, found guilty of collaboration with enemy and sentence to five years imprisonment and national degradation. His sentence was quashed in 1947.

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