Article

November 30, 2021

Pierre Mendès France, nicknamed PMF, born January 11, 1907 in Paris and died October 18, 1982 in the same city, is a French statesman. He was introduced to political life in 1924 in the student movements of opposition to the far right, then was elected deputy for Eure in 1932. Radical-socialist, he participated in the Popular Front coalition. He was a member of the second Blum government in 1938. During World War II, after being imprisoned by the Vichy regime, he managed to join the Resistance and joined the Free French Air Forces. He was Finance Commissioner then Minister of National Economy in the provisional government of General de Gaulle from September 1943 to April 1945. Appointed President of the Council by President René Coty in June 1954, he combined this function with that of Minister of Foreign Affairs. If he succeeds in concluding peace in Indochina, in preparing for Tunisia's independence and in initiating that of Morocco, his attempts at reform in Algeria lead to the fall of his government, a target both of his colonialist adversaries and of his usual anti-colonialist political supporters. He then left the presidency of the government in February 1955, after being overthrown by the National Assembly on the very sensitive issue of French Algeria. Minister of State without portfolio in the Guy Mollet government in 1956, he resigned after a few months because of his disagreement with the policy of the Mollet cabinet conducted in Algeria. He voted against the investiture of Charles de Gaulle as President of the Council in 1958, then abandoned all his local mandates after his defeat in the legislative elections in November of the same year. Elected deputy for the 2nd constituency of Isère in 1967, then defeated the following year, he formed a “ticket” with Gaston Defferre during the presidential campaign of 1969, but he won only 5% of the votes cast. Although he only led the government of France for just over seven months, he is a moral figure for part of the left in France. Beyond that, it remains a reference for personalities of the French political class, embodying the symbol of a demanding conception of politics.

Biography

Origins and family

Pierre Mendès France comes from an old family of Judeo-Portuguese Sephardic ancestry called "Mendes de França", settled in Bordeaux, Rochefort, Louviers and Paris. His first ancestor established in France is Luís Mendes de França, who arrived from Portugal around 1684 and settled in Bordeaux from La Rochelle. His father, Cerf-David Mendès France, founder of a clothing company, was rigorously areligious. The Dreyfus affair had been the great battle of his life, which he had lived "less as a united Jew than as an indignant democrat", a left democrat although he had never joined any political party. On the subject of his son's studies, his position was clear: the course will be secular, from the municipal school to the doctorate in law. Referring to his relationship to Judaism in March 1976 in L'Arche, Pierre Mendès France defines himself as non-religious and non-practicing and explains that, if he knows he is a Jew, "it is neither a religious fact nor a racial fact", but "a sensation", "a sensitivity" "and therefore a reality". Pierre's sister, Marcelle Grumbach, specifies that their mother was more superstitious than believing, and she confirms that the father, Cerf-David Mendès France, was rigorously areligious, which is why it is in Strasbourg, with the maternal grandparents. , that Peter did his Bar Mitzvah. He quickly distanced himself from religious values, but he repeatedly expressed his attachment to Judaism. During the interview reported by the journal

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