Reynaud, Paul, 1878-1966

Reynaud was Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of War of France until 16 June 1940. He had succeeded Edouard DALADIER as Head of State on 21 March 1940. One of his first acts was to meet CHURCHILL and on 28 March to issue a declaration in which both England and France pledged not to make a separate peace with Germany. However, shortly afterwards the Germans crossed the Meuse and the French Army’s fiasco under General GAMELIN began. On 19 May 1940, four days after the German breakthrough at Sedan, Reynaud reorganized the Cabinet and the High Command, replacing General Gamelin with the aged WEYGAND and appointing the even more aged PETAIN as Deputy Prime Minister. Reynaud was to regret this decision for both Weygand and Petain were strongly in favor of surrendering to Germany. Reynaud wanted to continue the fight but there was little he could do except negotiate with Britain for aid which it could not give. On 13 June he asked Britain to release him from his pledge not to make a separate peace. Two days later he proposed moving the government, Air Force and Fleet to North Africa but no action was taken. On 16 June Reynaud finally resigned and Petain took over.

Reynaud was arrested by the Vichy government on 6 September 1940. Early in 1942 he was one of the defendants at the famous show trial at Riom in which the Vichy government tried former government leaders for their alleged failure and negligence during the fight against the Germans. The defendants managed to turn the tables on their accusers whom they showed to have been the true traitors. Reynaud was deported to Germany in 1943 and released at the end of the war.

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