Giraud, General Henri, 1879-1949

Giraud was in command of the 7th Army when the German offensive in France opened in May 1940. His Army collapsed and was merged with Corap’s 9th Army but it failed to make an impression on the German advance and Giraud and his men were taken on 19 May. He was interned in Konigstein in Saxony but escaped in April 1942 to Switzerland and then Vichy France. As a popular resistance figure, Giraud was approached by the US who wanted to negotiate with him over their invasion of French North Africa. They did not realize that Giraud was out of touch with the political situation and did not have the power to stop French resistance in North Africa. Nonetheless Giraud was smuggled out of France in November 1942, a few days before the Torch landings, in the submarine Seraph and taken to Gibraltar. The US had negotiated a cease-fire with DARLAN and on the latter’s assassination, Giraud was made High Commissioner of French North and West Africa. DE GAULLE, head of the Free French, did not wish to see Giraud rivaling him for his position as leader of the French Resistance, but the US felt de Gaulle was too controversial and they continued to promote Giraud. They codenamed him King-Pin in all their dispatches. Eventually de Gaulle and Giraud were forced by Churchill and Roosevelt at Casablanca, in January 1943, to make a temporary reconciliation and became joint Presidents of the Committee of National Liberation, which was set up in June 1943. Giraud soon found himself outmaneuvered by de Gaulle and resigned from the Committee in October. In April 1944 he also resigned from his positions in North Africa and then faded into obscurity.

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