René Pleven

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René Pleven
Rene Pleven.jpg
Prime Minister of France
In office
12 July 1950 – 10 March 1951
Preceded by Henri Queuille
Succeeded by Henri Queuille
In office
11 August 1951 – 20 January 1952
Preceded by Henri Queuille
Succeeded by Edgar Faure
Personal details
Born (1901-04-15)15 April 1901
Rennes
Died 13 January 1993(1993-01-13) (aged 91)
Paris
Political party UDSR
Religion Roman Catholic [1]

René Pleven (French pronunciation: ​[ʁəne pləvɛ̃]; 15 April 1901 – 13 January 1993) was a notable French politician of the Fourth Republic. A member of the Free French, he helped found the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance (UDSR), a political party that was meant to be a successor to the wartime Resistance movement. He served as prime minister several times in the early 1950s, where his most notable contribution was the introduction of the Pleven Plan, which called for a European Defense Community between France, Italy, West Germany, and the Benelux countries.

Early life[edit]

René Pleven was born in Rennes on 15 April 1901 as the son of a commissioned officer and director of studies at the Special Military School of St. Cyr.[1] After studying law at the University of Paris, he failed the exam for the financial corps of the civil service, so he decided to move to the United States, Canada, and Great Britain to work there. He rose to the become a telephone company executive. In 1934, he married Anne Bompard.[2]

Wartime[edit]

Immediately after the breakout of the Second World War, he was in charge of encouraging the construction of aircraft for the Allies in the United States and of purchasing planes for France.[1] As late as 1939, Pleven stated that "Politics do not interest me,"[3] but then a year later, he joined Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces, which resisted the Nazi-allied French Vichy Regime. Pleven helped rally support for Free France in French Equatorial Africa. Returning to London, where de Gaulle and his forces were exiled, in 1941, he became national commissioner for the economy, finance, the colonies and foreign affairs of the French National Committee. In this role, he presided over a 1944 conference in Brazzaville, which opted for a more liberal policy towards the colonies and ultimately spurred the region's independence movements.[2]

Postwar years[edit]

After France's liberation, he was the Minister of the Economy and Finance in the provisional government. After the war, Pleven was elected a legislator from the Côtes-du-Nord department. In 1946, he broke with Charles de Gaulle and founded the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance (UDSR) serving as the party's president from 1946 to 1953. The party was positioned between the Radical Socialists and the Socialists, favoring limited industrial nationalization and state controls. He then held several Cabinet posts, most notably Defense Minister from 1949 to 1950. In July 1950 he became the country's Prime Minister, as power was shifting to the right. A vehement supporter of European integration, he pushed the ratification of the Schuman Plan for European integration creating the European Coal and Steel Community as Prime Minister. He had to face opposition from both left and right to push it through, but he collected enough votes in parliament by promising to increase farm loans and to lower taxes for low-income groups. After three days and two nights of debate, the treaty was ratified. He served until February 1951 and then again from August 1951 to January 1952, resigning over disagreements about budget deficits.[1][2][3][4]

He then became Defense Minister again. His proposal for a European Defense Community, in which to integrate a re-armed Germany, known as the Pleven Plan, was defeated by the Gaullists, communists, and socialists. He also advocated a hard hand in defending French colonial rule in Indochina. In 1953, he resigned as chairman of the UDSR after his party supported the Vietnam peace talks. Being Minister of Defense from 1952 to 1954, he was responsible when the French lost the Battle of Dien Bien Phu initiating the crumbling of French hegemony in the whole region.[2] In 1957, President René Coty offered him to become Prime Minister again, but he turned down.[5] Instead, he became the Fourth Republic's last Foreign Minister in 1958.[1]

In 1966, Pleven's wife died. He had had two daughters, Françoise and Nicole, with her. From 1969 to 1973, he served as Minister of Justice. Losing re-election as legislator in 1973, he became president of a regional development council in his native Brittany. He died of heart failure on 13 January 1993.[2]

Governments[edit]

First ministry (12 July 1950 – 10 March 1951)[edit]

Second Ministry (11 August 1951 – 20 January 1952)[edit]

Changes:

  • 16 September 1951 – Minister of State Maurice Petsche dies.
  • 4 October 1951 – Joseph Laniel becomes a Minister of State. Roger Duchet succeeds Laniel as Minister of Posts.
  • 21 November 1951 – Camille Laurens succeeds Antier as Minister of Agriculture.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d (German)René Pleven. DHM.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lambert, Bruce: "Rene Pleven, 91, Prime Minister Of France Twice in Early 1950s". New York Times. 20 January 1993.
  3. ^ a b Pour la France. Time.
  4. ^ France & the Schuman Plan. Time. 24 December 1951.
  5. ^ The Little Plum. Time. 10 June 1957.
Political offices
Preceded by
Free French Commissioner on Economy and Finances
1941–1942
Succeeded by
André Diethelm
Preceded by
Free French Commissioner on the Colonies
1941–1942
Succeeded by
Hervé Alphand
Preceded by
Vice President of the National Committee of the Free French
1942–1943
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Maurice Dejean
Free French Commissioner for Foreign Affairs
1942–1943
Succeeded by
René Massigli
Preceded by
Hervé Alphand
Free French Commissioner on the Colonies
1942–1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Henri Bléhaut
Minister of Colonies
1944
Succeeded by
Paul Giacobbi
Preceded by
Aimé Lepercq
Minister of Finance
1944–1946
Succeeded by
André Philipp
Preceded by
Pierre Mendès-France
Minister of National Economy
1945
Succeeded by
François Billoux
Preceded by
Paul Ramadier
Minister of National Defense
1949–1950
Succeeded by
Jules Moch
Preceded by
Henri Queuille
Prime Minister of France
1950–1951
Succeeded by
Henri Queuille
Preceded by
Vice President of the Council
with Guy Mollet and Georges Bidault
1951
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Henri Queuille
Prime Minister of France
1951–1952
Succeeded by
Edgar Faure
Preceded by
Georges Bidault
Minister of National Defense
1952–1954
Succeeded by
Pierre Koenig
Preceded by
Christian Pineau
Minister of Foreign Affairs
1958
Succeeded by
Maurice Couve de Murville
Preceded by
Jean-Marcel Jeanneney
Minister of Justice
1969–1973
Succeeded by
Pierre Messmer