|Birth Day:||June 18, 1884|
|Death Date:||Oct 10, 1970 (age 86)|
As per our current Database, Edouard Daladier died on Oct 10, 1970 (age 86).
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He was one of the key figures in the 1926 separation of the Radical Party from the Section Française de l'Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO) socialist political organization.
Daladier was born in Carpentras, Vaucluse, on 18 June 1884, the son of a village baker. He received his formal education at the lycée Duparc in Lyon, where he was first introduced to socialist politics. After his graduation, he became a school teacher and a university lecturer at Nîmes, Grenoble and Marseilles and then at the Lycée Condorcet, in Paris, where he taught history. He began his political career by becoming the mayor of Carpentras, his home town, in 1912. He subsequently sought election to the Paris Chamber of Deputies but lost to a Radical-Socialist Party candidate; he later joined that party.
Daladier had received military training before the war under France's conscription system. In August 1914, he was mobilised at the age of 30 with the French Army's 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment when World War I started with the rank of sergeant. In mid-1915, the 2nd Foreign Infantry Regiment was destroyed in heavy fighting against the Imperial German Army on the Western Front. The surviving remnant of it was assigned to other units, Daladier being transferred into the 209th Infantry Regiment. In 1916, he fought with the 209th in the Battle of Verdun and was given a field commission as a lieutenant in the midst of the battle in April 1916 having received commendations for gallantry in action. In May 1917, he received the Legion of Honour for gallantry in action and ended the war as a captain leading a company. He had also been awarded the Croix de Guerre.
After his demobilisation, he was elected to the Paris Chamber of Deputies for Orange, Vaucluse, in 1919.
After he entered the Chamber of Deputies, he became a leading member of the Radical-Socialist Party and was responsible for building the party into a structured modern political party. For most of the interwar period, he was the chief figure of the party's left wing, supporters of a governmental coalition with the socialist Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (SFIO). A government minister in various posts during the coalition governments between 1924 and 1928, Daladier was instrumental in the Radical-Socialists' break with the SFIO in 1926, the first Cartel des gauches with the centre-right Raymond Poincaré in November 1928. In 1930, he unsuccessfully attempted to gain socialist support for a centre-left government in coalition the Radical-Socialist and similar parties. In 1933, despite similar negotiations breaking down, he formed a government of the republican left.
Daladier had been made aware in 1932 by German rivals to Hitler that Krupp manufactured heavy artillery, and the Deuxième Bureau had a grasp of the scale of German military preparations but lacked hard intelligence of hostile intentions.
In addition, France had defaulted on its World War I debts in 1932 and so fell foul of the 1934 Johnson Act, which banned American loans to nations that had defaulted on their World War I debts. In February 1939, the French offered to cede their possessions in the Caribbean and the Pacific, together with a lump sum payment of 10 billion francs, in exchange for the unlimited right to buy American aircraft on credit.
In January 1934, he was considered the most likely candidate of the centre-left to form a government of sufficient honesty to calm public opinion after the revelations of the Stavisky Affair, a major corruption scandal. The government lasted less than a week, however, since it fell in the face of the 6 February 1934 riots. After Daladier fell, the coalition of the left initiated two years of right-wing governments.
After a year of being withdrawn from frontline politics, Daladier returned to public prominence in October 1934 and took a populist line against the banking oligarchy that he believed had taken control of French democracy: the Two Hundred Families. He was made president of the Radical-Socialist Party and brought the party into the Popular Front coalition. Daladier became Minister of National Defence in the Léon Blum government and retained the crucial portfolio for two years.
In July 1937, a new law, which was followed by a similar law in May 1946, empowered the Department of Workplace Inspection to order temporary medical interventions.
After the fall of the Blum government, Daladier became head of government again on 10 April 1938, orienting his government towards the centre and ending the Popular Front.
Daladier's last government was in power at the time of the negotiations preceding the Munich Agreement during which France pressured Czechoslovakia to hand the Sudetenland to Nazi Germany. In April-May 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain strongly but unsuccessfully pressed Daladier to renounce the French-Czechoslovak alliance, which led to Britain becoming involved in the crisis. From the British perspective, the problem was not the Sudetenland but the French-Czechoslovak alliance. British military experts were almost unanimous that Germany would defeat France in a war unless Britain intervened. The British viewed that allowing Germany to defeat France would unacceptably alter the balance of power and so Britain would have no choice but to intervene if a French-German broke out.
The alliance would have turned any German attack on Czechoslovakia cause into a French–German war. As British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax stated at a Cabinet meeting in March 1938, "Whether we liked or not, we had to admit the plain fact that we could not afford to see France overrun".
At the Anglo-French summit on 28–29 April 1938, Chamberlain pressured Daladier to renounce the alliance with Czechoslovakia, only to be firmly informed that France would stand by its obligations, which forced the British to be involved very reluctantly in the Sudetenland Crisis. As the historian Harindar Aulach wrote, the summit of 28–29 April 1938 represented a British "surrender" to the French, rather than a French "surrender" to the British since Daladier made it clear France would not renounce its alliance with Czechoslovakia.
Nevertheless, perhaps discouraged by the pessimistic and defeatist attitudes of both military and civilian members of the French government and traumatised by the bloodbath in World War I that he had personally witnessed, Daladier ultimately chose to pressure Czechoslovakia into concessions. The French economic situation was very worrying since the French franc had been devalued on 4 May 1938 for the third time since October 1936. Daladier wanted to stabilise the franc and so had fixed the exchange rate to 176 francs per pound sterling.
The crisis of 20–22 May 1938 made the franc come under immense financial pressure since many investors did not wish to hold French assets or debts if France went to war. Jacques Rueff, the director of direction générale du mouvement des fonds and special adviser to Finance Minister, Paul Marchandeau, stated in a report that the government must cut defense spending or find more sources of short-term loans, as the French government was running out of money. Marchandeau stated that ordinary charges upon the treasury in 1938 would "exceed" 42 billion francs, and Rueff warned that France would go bankrupt once the legal limits upon short-term loans from the Bank of France was reached. Marchandeau, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, stated that the government had only 30 million francs in its account and 230 million francs available from the Bank of France.
As French government expenditure for the month of May 1938 alone totalled 4,500 million francs, the British historian Martin Thomas wrote, "Daladier's government was utterly reliant upon the success of its devaluation". To provide revenue, the government needed to sell more short-term bonds, but investors were highly reluctant to buy French bonds if Germany was threatening Czechoslovakia and put France on the brink of war. Because the franc was tied to the pound, France needed loans from Britain, which were not forthcoming, and so France was left "with its hands tied". British and American investors were unwilling to buy French bonds as long as the Sudetenland Crisis continued, which caused "severe monetary problems" for the French government in August-September 1938. Only when Daladier moved the "free-market liberal" Paul Reynaud from Justice Ministry to the Finance Ministry in November 1938 that France regained the confidence of international investors, who began to buy the French bonds that they had just shunned.
On 25 September 1938, at the Bad Godesberg Summit, Hitler rejected Chamberlain's offer to have the Sudetenland join Germany in few months, declared that the timeline was unacceptable and that the Sudetenland had to "go home to the Reich" by 1 October and stated that the Polish and Hungarian claims against Czechoslovakia must also be satisfied by 1 October or Czechoslovakia would be invaded. Upon hearing of what Hitler had demanded at the summit, Daladier told his cabinet that France "intended to go to war".
However, on 29 September 1938, Chamberlain announced to the British House of Commons that he just received a phone call from Benito Mussolini, who said that Hitler had reconsidered his views and was now willing to discuss a compromise solution to the crisis in Munich. Ultimately, Daladier felt that France could not win against Germany without Britain on its side, and Chamberlain's announcement that he would be flying to Munich led him to attend the Munich Conference as well, which was held the next day on 30 September.
In October 1938, Daladier opened secret talks with the Americans on how to bypass the Neutrality Acts and to allow the French to buy American aircraft to make up for the underproductive French aircraft industry. Daladier commented in October 1938, "If I had three or four thousand aircraft, Munich would never have happened". He was most anxious to buy American war planes as the only way to strengthen the French Air Force. Major problems in the talks were how the French would pay for the American planes and how to bypass the Neutrality Acts.
At a rally in Marseilles in October 1938, Daladier announced a new policy: J'ai choisi mon chemin: la France en avant! ("I have chosen my path; forward with France!"). He stated that his government's domestic and foreign policies were to be based on "firmness". What that meant, in practice, was the end of the social reforms of the Popular Front government to increase French productivity, especially by ending the 40-hour work week. In a series of decree laws issued on 1 November 1938 by Finance Minister Paul Reynaud, which bypassed the National Assembly, the 40-hour work week was ended, taxes were sharply increased; social spending was slashed, defence spending was increased, the power of unions were restricted and (most controversially) Saturday was once again declared to be a workday. In a radio broadcast on 12 November 1938, Reynauld stated, "We are going blindfold towards an abyss". He also argued that however much pain his reforms might cause, they were absolutely necessary. As part of the effort to put the French economy on a war footing, Reynauld increased the military budget from 29 billion francs to 93 billion francs. In response, the French Communist Party called for a general strike to protest the decrees that ended almost all of the reforms of the Popular Front.
The 40-hour work week was abolished under Daladier's government, but a more generous system of family allowances was established and set as a percentage of wages: for the first child 5%, for the second child 10% and for each additional child 15%. Also created was a home mother allowance, which had been advocated by natalist and Catholic women’s groups since 1929. All mothers who were not professionally employed and whose husbands collected family allowances were eligible for the new benefit. In March 1939, the government added 10% for workers whose wives stayed home to take care of the children. Family allowances were enshrined in the Family Code of July 1939 and, with the exception of the stay-at-home allowance, are still in force. In addition, a decree was issued in May 1938 to allow the establishment of vocational guidance centres.
The British historian Richard Overy wrote: "The greatest achievement of Daladier in 1939 was to win from the British a firm commitment", the so-called "continental commitment" that every French leader had sought since 1919. Daladier had a low opinion of Britain and told Bullitt in November 1938 that he "fully expected to be betrayed by the British.... he considered Chamberlain a desiccated stick; the King a moron; and the Queen an excessively ambitious woman.... he felt that England had become so feeble and senile that the British would give away every possession of their friends rather than stand up to Germany and Italy". In late 1938 to early 1939, the British embassy was bombarded with rumours from reliable sources within the French government that France would seek an "understanding" with Germany that would resolve all problems in their relations. The fact that French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet was indeed seeking such an understanding lent credence to such rumours.
In January 1939, Daladier let the Deuxième Bureau manufacture the "Dutch War Scare". French intelligence fed misinformation to MI6 that Germany was about to invade the Netherlands with the aim of using Dutch air fields to launch a bombing campaign to raze British cities to the ground. As France was the only nation in Western Europe with an army strong enough to save the Netherlands, the "Dutch War Scare" led the British to make anxious inquiries in Paris to ask the French to intervene if the Netherlands were indeed invaded. In response, Daladier stated that if the British wanted the French to do something for their security, it was only fair for the British do something for French security. On 6 February 1939, Chamberlain, in a speech to the House of Commons, finally made the "continental commitment" as he told the House: "The solidarity that unites France and Britain is such that any threat to the vital interests of France must bring about the co-operation of Great Britain". On 13 February 1939, staff talks between the British Imperial General Staff and the French General Staff were opened.
Daladier supported Chamberlain's policy of creating a "peace front" that was meant to deter Germany from aggression but was unhappy with the British "guarantee" of Poland, which Chamberlain had announced to the House of Commons on 31 March 1939. France had been allied to Poland since 1921, but Daladier had been bitter by the German-Polish Nonaggression Pact of 1934 and the Polish annexation of part of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Like other French leaders, he regarded the Sanation regime ruling Poland as a fickle and unreliable friend of France. The rise in French industrial output and the greater financial stability in 1939 as a result of Reynauld's reforms led Daladier to view the possibility of war with the Reich more favourably than had been the case in 1938. By September 1939, France's aircraft production was equal to Germany's, and 170 American planes were arriving per month.
Daladier did not want a war with Germany in 1939 but sought to have such an overwhelming array of forces arranged against Germany that Hitler would be deterred from invading Poland. Daladier believed that Polish Guarantee by Britain would encourage Poland to object to having the Soviet Union join the "peace front", which indeed proved to be the case. The Poles refused to grant transit rights to the Red Army, which the Soviets made a precondition for their joining the "peace front". Daladier felt that Chamberlain should not have made guarantee until the Poles had agreed to grant transit rights to the Red Army. He charged that the guarantee made British and French diplomats have more leverage over Polish Foreign Minister Colonel Jozef Beck, who was widely disliked by other diplomats for his stubbornness and haughty manners.
A public opinion poll in June 1939 showed that 76% of the French believed that France should immediately declare war if Germany tried to seize the Free City of Danzig. For Daladier, the possibility that the Soviet Union might join the "peace front" was a "lifeline" and the best way of stopping another world war. He was deeply frustrated by the Polish refusal to permit transit rights for the Red Army.
On 19 August 1939, Beck, in a telegram to Daladier, stated: "We have not got a military agreement with the USSR. We do not want to have one".
Through the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August ruined Daladier's hopes of an Anglo-Franco-Soviet "peace front", he still believed that France and Britain could stop Germany together. On 27 August 1939, Daladier told Bullitt, "there was no further question of policy to be settled. His sister had put in two bags all the personal keepsakes and belonging he really cared about, and was prepared to leave for a secure spot at any moment. France intended to stand by the Poles, and if Hitler should refuse to negotiate with the Poles over Danzig, and should make war on Poland, France would fight at once".
After the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was signed, Daladier responded to the public outcry by outlawing the French Communist Party on the basis that it had refused to condemn Joseph Stalin's actions. During the Danzig Crisis, Daladier was greatly influenced by the advice that he received from Robert Coulondre, the French ambassador in Berlin, that Hitler would back down if France made a firm enough stand toward Poland. On 31 August 1939, Daladier read out to the French cabinet a letter he received from Coulondre: "The trial of strength turns to our advantage. It is only necessary to hold, hold, hold!"
After the German invasion of Poland on 1 September, he reluctantly declared war on 3 September and inaugurated the Phoney War. On 6 October, Hitler offered France and Britain a peace proposal. There were more than a few in the French government who were prepared to take Hitler up on his offer, but in a nationwide broadcast the next day, Daladier declared, "We took up arms against aggression. We shall not put them down until we have guarantees for a real peace and security, a security which is not threatened every six months". On 29 January 1940, in a radio address delivered to the people of France, The Nazi's Aim is Slavery, Daladier was explicitly stated his opinion of the Germans: "For us, there is more to do than merely win the war. We shall win it, but we must also win a victory far greater than that of arms. In this world of masters and slaves, which those madmen who rule at Berlin are seeking to forge, we must also save liberty and human dignity".
In March 1940, Daladier resigned as prime minister because of his failure to aid Finland's defence during the Winter War, and he was replaced by Paul Reynaud. Daladier remained defence minister, however, and his antipathy to the new prime minister prevented Reynaud from dismissing Maurice Gamelin as Supreme Commander of the French armed forces. As a result of the massive German breakthrough at Sedan, Daladier swapped ministerial offices with Reynaud and became foreign minister while Reynaud became defence ministers. Gamelin was finally replaced by Maxime Weygand on 19 May 1940, nine days after the Germans began the Battle of France.
Daladier was interned in Fort du Portalet, in the Pyrenees. He was kept in prison from 1940 to April 1943, when he was handed over to the Germans and deported to Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. In May 1943, he was transported to the Itter Castle, in North Tyrol, with other French dignitaries, where he remained until the end of the war. He was freed after the Battle for Castle Itter.
After the war ended, Daladier was re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1946 and acted as a patron to the Radical-Socialist Party's young reforming leader, Pierre Mendès-France. He also was elected as the Mayor of Avignon in 1953. He opposed the transferral of powers to Charles de Gaulle after the May 1958 crisis but, in the subsequent legislative elections of that year, failed to secure re-election. He withdrew from politics after a career of almost 50 years at the age of 74.
Daladier died in Paris on 10 October, 1970, at the age of 86. His body was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Currently, Edouard Daladier is 137 years, 1 months and 18 days old. Edouard Daladier will celebrate 138th birthday on a Saturday 18th of June 2022.
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