Louise Weiss

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Louise Weiss
Louise Weiss.jpg
Louise Weiss (front) along with other suffragettes at the Bastille in Paris in 1935
Born(1893-01-25)25 January 1893
Arras, France
Died26 May 1983(1983-05-26) (aged 90)
Paris, France
OccupationPolitician, journalist and author
Known forBeing an early pro-European feminist
Parent(s)Paul Louis Weiss
Jeanne Javal

Louise Weiss (25 January 1893 in Arras, Pas-de-Calais – 26 May 1983 in Paris) was a French author, journalist, feminist and European politician.


Louise Weiss came from a cosmopolitan family of Alsace. Her father, Paul Louis Weiss, a mining engineer, was a distinguished Alsatian Protestant from La Petite-Pierre.[1] The ancestors of her Jewish mother, Jeanne Javal, originated from the small Alsatian town of Seppois-le-Bas.[2] She grew up in Paris with five siblings, was trained as a teacher against the will of her family, was a teacher at a secondary school for arts and awarded a degree from Oxford University. From 1914 to 1918, she worked as a war nurse and founded a hospital in the Côtes-du-Nord. From 1918 to 1934, she was the publisher of the magazine, L'Europe nouvelle [fr]. From 1935 to the beginning of World War II, she committed herself to women's suffrage. In 1936, she stood for French parliamentary elections, running in the Fifth arrondissement of Paris. During the War, she was active in the French Resistance. She claimed she was a member of the Patriam Recuperare network; however this was formally denied by members of the network. She was chief editor of the secret magazine, "Nouvelle République" from 1942 until 1944. In 1945, she founded the Institute for Polemology (research on war and conflict) together with Gaston Bouthoul [fr][3] in London.[citation needed] She travelled around the Middle East, Japan, China, Vietnam, Africa, Kenya, Madagascar, Alaska, India, etc., made documentary films and wrote accounts of her travels. In 1975, she unsuccessfully tried twice to be admitted to the Académie Française. In 1979, she became a Member of the European Parliament for the Gaullist Party (now The Republicans).


During World War I, she published her first press reports under a pseudonym. In Paris, she came in contact with her first great loves, representatives of countries striving for independence, such as Eduard Beneš, Tomáš Masaryk and Milan Štefánik. Between 1919 and 1939, she often travelled to Czechoslovakia. In 1918, she founded the weekly newspaper, Europe nouvelle [fr] (New Europe), which she published until 1934. Thomas Mann, Gustav Stresemann, Rudolf Breitscheid and Aristide Briand were among her co-authors on the paper. Louise Weiss described those who paved the way for the closening of the German-French relationship between the World Wars as "peace pilgrims", and they called their important co-worker "my good Louise". Europe dreamed of unification and in 1930, she founded the "Ecole de la Paix" (School of Peace), a private institute for international relations. With the takeover by the National Socialists in Germany, the possibility of a unification was over.


In 1979, Louise Weiss stood as a candidate of the Gaullist Party in the first European election in 1979. On 17 July 1979 she was elected as a French Member of the European Parliament (MEP), sitting with the European People's Party. At the time of the first election, aged 86, she was the oldest member in Parliament and thus the EP's first 'oldest member'. She remained MEP and oldest member until her death on 26 May 1983, aged 90.

The main parliament building in Strasbourg bears her name.

Women's Rights Activist[edit]

In 1934, she founded the association, La femme nouvelle (The New Woman) with Cécile Brunsvicg, and she strove for a stronger role of women in public life. She participated in campaigns for the right of women to vote in France, organised suffragette commands, demonstrated and had herself chained to a street light in Paris with other women. In 1935, she unsuccessfully sued against the "inability of women to vote" before the French Conseil d'État.


Political Works[edit]

  • La République Tchécoslovaque, 1919
  • Milan Stefanik, Prague 1920


  • Souvenirs d'une enfance républicaine, Paris, 1937
  • Ce que femme veut, Paris, 1946
  • Mémoires d'une Européenne, Paris 1968-1976


  • Délivrance, Paris 1936
  • La Marseillaise, Vol. I and II Paris, 1945; Vol. III Paris 1947
  • Sabine Legrand, Paris 1951
  • Dernières Voluptés, Paris, 1979

Theatrical Works[edit]

  • Arthur ou les joies du suicide
  • Sigmaringen ou les potentats du néant
  • Le récipiendaire
  • La patronne
  • Adaptation des Dernières Voluptés

Travel Books[edit]

  • L'or, le camion et la croix, Paris, 1949
  • Le voyage enchanté, Paris, 1960
  • Le Cachemire, Les Albums des Guides Bleus, Paris, 1955

Sociological Essay[edit]

  • Lettre à un embryon, Paris 1973

Art, Archaeology and Folklore[edit]

  • Contes et légendes du Grand-Nord, Paris, 1957



Each year, the Louise Weiss Foundation awards a prize to the author or the institution which has contributed the most to the advancement of the science of peace, the improvement of human relations and efforts of benefit to Europe.


  1. ^ "Louise Weiss" on the Jewish Woman's Archive
  2. ^ "Louise Weiss" on judaisme.sdv.fr
  3. ^ "Polemology". WikiMediation. Retrieved 12 October 2014.


Florence Hervé: Frauengeschichten - Frauengesichter, Vol. 4, trafo verlag 2003, 150 pp., illustrated, ISBN 3-89626-423-0

External links[edit]