The World at War


Albert Saurrat

French Statesman

Born: July 28, 1872 at Bordeaux
Died: November 26, 1962 at Paris

Premier of France:October 11 - November 24, 1933
January 24 - June 4, 1936

     Saurrat was elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a Radical-Socialist Party in 1902. He served two terms as Governor General of Indochina (1911-'16 and 1916-'19) earning a reputation for pursuing liberalized policies that increased native participation in the civil service and granted greater recognition to local languages and law. As Minister of Colonies (1920-'24 and 1932-'33) he promoted the development of the overseas possessions and authored several books on the subject.

     Saurrat served a short term as Premier in the autumn of 1933 but resigned when the Chamber of Deputies refused to approve a reduction in civil service salaries. He came to power a second time in January 1936.

     Saurrat favored strong action in response to Germany's remilitarization of the Rhineland but was forced to back down in the face of opposition from the British and his own military. He faced a wave of industrial strikes and right-wing street demonstrations during the interim between the 1936 election and the inauguration of the Popular Front. He dissolved L'Action Francaise by ministerial decree in April, 1936 following an assault on Leon Blum.

     Saurrat retired from politics after Petain dissolved the National Assembly in July 1940. He took control ofr the family newspaper, La Depeche de Toulouse, after the editor, his brother Maurice, was murdered by the Milice in 1943.

     Saurrat was arrested by the Germans in 1944 and held in Germany until the end of the war.

     He attempted a political come back after the war but failed to win a seat in the National Assembly. Saurrat remained active despite that setback. He played a major role in the transformation of the French Empire into the French Union, serving as president of the later from 1949 to 1958.He was elected to the Academie des beaux-arts in 1953.

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