The World at War


Henri Honore Giraud

French General

Born: January 18, 1879 at Paris
Died: March 11, 1949 at Dijon

     Giraud graduated from Saint Cyr in 1900, served with distinction in World War I and the Moroccan Rif wars of 1922 - '26. He was named Military Governor of Metz and given a seat on the War Council in 1939.

     Giraud commanded the 9th Army during the Battle of France and was taken prisoner on May 18, 1940. He escaped confinement in Konigstein, Germany in April 1942 and made his way to Vichy. He supported Petain's National Revolution but refused to collaborate with the Germans.

     Giraud was picked up by a British submarine and taken to Gibraltar on the eve of the Allied landings in North Africa. The Americans were desperate to find an alternative to de Gaulle and planned to install Giraud as governor and commander of French military forces once they surrendered. Vichy troops paid little heed to Giraud's demand that they capitulate. They put up a stiff resistance for several days before Admiral Darlan ordered them to ceasefire. Darlan's unforeseen presence delayed Giraud's rise to power. The Allies cut a deal with Darlan but he was assassinated on the Christmas Eve 1942 and the victors turn to Giraud once again.

     The Allies bestowed the title of Civil and Military Governor of French North and West Africa on Giraud. The Free French refused to accept the imposition and Giraud's tolerance of Vichy functionaries did nothing to heal the rift. De Gaulle and Giraud were summoned to Casablanca in January 1943 where Roosevelt insisted they reach an accommodation or lose American support. The Committee of National Liberation accepted an arrangement under which the two generals would serve as co-presidents on June 3, 1943.

     Giraud lost the support of the Committee when he withheld his plan for the liberation of Corsica from them until the last moment. He was forced out of the co-presidency in November 1943. He was ousted as Commander in Chief of the armed forces in April 1944 after it was learned that he was maintaining his own intelligence network. The Committee offered to retain him as Inspector General of the Army but Giraud chose to retire. Giraud was elected to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the constitution of the Fourth Republic and retained a seat on the War Council until 1948.

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