Marie-Pierre Kœnig

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Marie-Pierre Kœnig (Koenig)
Marie-Pierre Kœnig.jpg
General Kœnig in 1944.
Minister of the Armed Forces
In office
19 June 1954 – 14 August 1954
Prime MinisterPierre Mendès France
Preceded byRené Pleven
Succeeded byEmmanuel Temple
In office
23 February 1955 – 6 October 1955
Prime MinisterEdgar Faure
Preceded byMaurice Bourgès-Maunoury
Succeeded byPierre Billotte
Member of the National Assembly for Bas-Rhin's constituency
In office
5 July 1951 – 5 December 1958
Personal details
Born(1898-10-10)10 October 1898
Caen, French Republic
Died2 September 1970(1970-09-02) (aged 71)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, French Republic
Resting placeMontmartre Cemetery
Political partyRPF (1951–1955)
RS (1956–1958)
Marie Klein
(m. 1931)
  • Henri Joseph Kœnig (father)
  • Ernestine Mutin (mother)
Alma mater
Military service
AllegianceFrance Third Republic
Free France Free France
France Fourth Republic
Branch/serviceFrench Army
Years of service1917–1951
RankArmy general[a]
List of units
List of commands
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

Marie Joseph Pierre François Kœnig[b] or Koenig[4] (10 October 1898 – 2 September 1970) was a French general during World War II during which he commanded a Free French Brigade at the Battle of Bir Hakeim in North Africa in 1942. He started a political career after the war and was posthumously elevated to the dignity of Marshal of France in 1984.

Early life[edit]

Marie-Pierre Kœnig was born on 10 October 1898, in Caen, Calvados, France. His parents were from the Alsace region.

Military career[edit]

World War I[edit]

Kœnig fought in the French Army during World War I and served with distinction. He obtained his baccalaureate and enlisted in 1917. He served in the 36th Infantry Regiment. He was designated as an aspirant in February 1918 and joined his unit at the front. Decorated with the Médaille militaire, he was promoted to sous-lieutenant on 3 September 1918.

Interwar career[edit]

After the war, he served with French forces in Morocco and Cameroon. He served in Silesia as assistant (French: adjoint) of captain Adrien Henry [fr] in the Alpes, in Germany, then in Morocco, at the general staff headquarters of the division of Marrakesh.

World War II[edit]

Kœnig was a captain and assistant to lieutenant-colonel Raoul Magrin-Vernerey in the 13th Demi-Brigade of Foreign Legion of the French Foreign Legion.

When World War II broke out, Kœnig returned to France. In 1940, he was assigned as a captain with the French troops in Norway, for which he was later awarded the Krigskorset med Sverd or Norwegian War Cross with Sword, in 1942. After the fall of France he escaped to England from Brittany.

Liberation of Paris, France, August 25, 1944. General Dwight D. Eisenhower leaving Hotel de Ville, behind him is French General Marie-Pierre Koenig. In the background are tanks of the Division Leclerc.

In London, Kœnig joined General Charles de Gaulle and was promoted to colonel. He became chief of staff in the first divisions of the Free French Forces. In 1941, he served in the campaigns in Syria and Lebanon. He was later promoted to general and took command of the First French Brigade in Egypt. His unit of 3700 men held ground against five Axis divisions (c. 37,000 men) for 16 days at the Battle of Bir Hakeim until they were ordered to evacuate on 11 June 1942. General de Gaulle said to Kœnig: "Hear and tell your troops: the whole of France is watching you, you are our pride."[5]

Later, Kœnig served as the Free French delegate to the Allied headquarters under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1944, he was given command of the Free French who participated in the Invasion of Normandy. Kœnig also served as a military advisor to de Gaulle. In June 1944, he was given command of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) to unify various French Resistance groups under de Gaulle's control. Under his command, the FFI abandoned ranged battle in the Maquis, preferring sabotage waged in support of the invading army. Important in D-Day, the role of the FFI became decisive in the battle for Normandy and in the landing in Provence of the US Seventh Army and French Army B. On 21 August 1944, de Gaulle appointed Kœnig military governor of Paris to restore law and order. In 1945, he was sent to arrest Marshal Pétain, who had taken refuge in Germany, but who gave himself up at the frontier with Switzerland.[6]

Cold War[edit]

After the war, Kœnig was military governor of the French occupation zone in Germany from 1945 to 1949.[7] In 1949, he became inspector general in North Africa and in 1950 vice-president of the Supreme War Council.

Political career[edit]

Kœnig during a visit in Israel, 1969
Kœnig during a visit in Israel, 1969

In 1951, after his retirement from the army, Kœnig was elected as Gaullist representative to the French National Assembly and briefly served as Minister of Defense under Pierre Mendès-France (1954) and Edgar Faure (1955).[8]

He gave his strong support to the new State of Israel as president of the Franco-Israeli Committee (Comité franco-israélien), at around the same time when he was France's Defense Minister, as shown from his informing his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres that France was willing to sell Israel any weapons it wished to purchase, from small arms to tanks (such as the AMX-13 light tank).[8] Kœnig had witnessed the heroism of a battalion of Palestinian Jewish mine layers during the Battle of Bir Hakeim and afterwards allowed them to fly their own Star-of-David flag, against British regulations.[9]


Marie-Pierre Kœnig died on 2 September 1970, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and was buried at Montmartre Cemetery in Paris.[8]


There are streets named after Kœnig in Jerusalem,[10] Netanya[11] and Haifa.[12]

Military ranks[edit]

Aspirant Second lieutenant Lieutenant Captain Battalion chief Lieutenant colonel
French Army (sleeves) OF-D.svg French Army (sleeves) OF-1a.svg French Army (sleeves) OF-1b.svg France-Army-OF-2 Sleeve WW2.svg France-Army-OF-3 Sleeve WW2.svg France-Army-OF-4 Sleeve WW2.svg
February 1918[8] 3 September 1918[1] 3 September 1920[2] 25 June 1932[3] 1 July 1940[8] December 1940[8]
Colonel Brigade general Division general Corps general Army general Marshal of France
France-Army-OF-5 Sleeve WW2.svg France-Army-OF-6 Sleeve WW2.svg France-Army-OF-7 Sleeve WW2.svg France-Army-OF-8 Sleeve WW2.svg France-Army-OF-9 Sleeve WW2.svg France-Army-OF-10 Sleeve.svg
January 1941[8] July 1941[8] 1943[8] 28 June 1944[8] 20 May 1946[13] 6 June 1984[14]

Honours and decorations[edit]

National honours[edit]

Ribbon bar Honour[8]
Legion Honneur GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the National Order of the Legion of Honour
Ordre de la Liberation 2nd ribbon.svg Companion of the National Order of Liberation

Ministerial honours[edit]

Ribbon bar Honour[8]
Ordre du Merite agricole Commandeur 1999 ribbon.svg Commander of the Order of Agricultural Merit

Decorations and medals[edit]

Ribbon bar Honour[8]
Medaille militaire ribbon.svg Military medal
Croix de Guerre 1914-1918 ribbon.svg War Cross 1914–1918 (2 citations)
Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg War Cross 1939–1945 (4 citations)
Croix de Guerre des Theatres d'Operations Exterieurs ribbon.svg War Cross for foreign operational theatres (3 citations)
Medaille de la Resistance avec rosette ribbon.svg Resistance Medal with rosette
Ruban de la Médaille d'Outre-Mer.PNG Colonial Medal with clasps "Maroc", "Sahara", "Libye", "Bir-Hakeim", "Tunisie 43-43"
Croix du Combattant (1930 France) ribbon.svg Combatant's Cross
Medaille de l'Aeronautique ribbon.svg Aeronautical Medal
Medaille des Evades ribbon.svg Escapees' Medal
World War I Victory Medal ribbon.svg 1914–1918 Inter-Allied Victory medal
Medaille commemorative de la Guerre 1914-1918 ribbon.svg 1914–1918 Commemorative war medal
Medaille commemorative de la Guerre 1939-1945 ribbon.svg 1939–1945 Commemorative war medal
Medaille commemorative des Services Volontaires dans la France Libre ribbon.svg Commemorative medal for voluntary service in Free France
Ruban de la Médaille de la Reconnaissance française.PNG Medal of French Gratitude

Foreign honours[edit]

Ribbon bar Honour[8] Country
Order of the Bath UK ribbon.svg Companion of the Order of the Bath United Kingdom
Dso-ribbon.png Distinguished Service Order United Kingdom
US Legion of Merit Commander ribbon.png Commander of the Legion of Merit United States
Noribbon.svg Congressional Gold Medal United States
Order of Suvorov 106x30.png Order of Suvorov, 1st Class Soviet Union
BEL Kroonorde Grootkruis BAR.svgUK MID 1920-94.svg Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown with palm Belgium
Grand Officer Ordre de Leopold.png Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold Belgium
Croix de Guerre 1940-1945 with palm (Belgium) - ribbon bar.png War Cross with Palm Belgium
Order of Orange-Nassau ribbon - Knight Grand Cross.svg Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau Netherlands
LUX Croix de Guerre ribbon.svg War Cross Luxembourg
Ordre de la couronne de Chene GC ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the Order of the Oak Crown Luxembourg
DNK Order of Danebrog Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog Denmark
St Olavs Orden storkors stripe.svg Grand Cross of the Order of St. Olav Norway
Krigskorset med sverd stripe.svg War Cross with Sword Norway
POL Virtuti Militari Komandorski BAR.svg Commander's Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari[15] Poland
Noribbon.svg Resistance Medal with rosette Poland
Czechoslovak War Cross 1939-1945 Ribbon.png War Cross Czechoslovakia
CZE Rad Bileho Lva 5 tridy BAR.svg Order of the White Lion for Victory Czechoslovakia
GRE Order of George I - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of George I Greece
MCO Order of Saint-Charles - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Charles Monaco
SMOM-cf.svg Grand Cross of the Knights of Malta Malta
Ordre du Mérite Militaire Chérifien ribbon (Maroc).svg Sherifian Order of Military Merit Morocco
Ordre de l'Ouissam Alaouite GC ribbon (Maroc).svg Grand Cordon of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite Morocco
Ordre du Nichan Iftikhar GC ribbon (Tunisia).svg Grand Cordon of the Nichan Iftikar Tunisia
Ordre de l'Etoile d'Anjouan GO ribbon.svg Grand Officer of the Order of the Star of Anjouan Comoros
Order of the White Elephant - 1st Class (Thailand) ribbon.svg Grand Cross of the Order of the White Elephant Thailand

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Government of the French Republic (12 September 1918). "Décret du 12 Septembre 1918 portant promotion dans l'armée active". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b Government of the French Republic (9 October 1920). "Décret du 5 Octobre 1920 portant promotion dans l'armée active". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b Government of the French Republic (18 June 1932). "Décret du 18 Juin 1932 portant promotion dans l'armée active". Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  4. ^ French National Assembly
  5. ^ «Sachez et dites à vos troupes que toute la France vous regarde et que vous êtes son orgueil.»[citation needed]
  6. ^ "FRANCE: Toward Twilight". 7 May 1945. Archived from the original on 21 June 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Bonn Constitution - Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. May 1949".
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n National Order of Liberation. "Pierre KOENIG". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  9. ^ Jerry Klinger (President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation). "General Marie-Pierre Koenig and the Jewish Brigade: The First Salute". The Jewish Magazine, October–November 2009
  10. ^ "iTravelJerusalem – Hadar Mall". iTravelJerusalem. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  11. ^ "מפות Google". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Pierre Koenig st. – Haifa". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  13. ^ Government of the French Republic (6 June 1946). "Décret du 6 Juin 1946 conférant le rang et les prérogatives de général d'armée". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  14. ^ Government of the French Republic (6 June 1984). "Décret du 6 juin 1984 LA DIGNITE DE MARECHAL DE FRANCE EST CONFEREE A TITRE POSTHUME AU GENERAL D'ARMEE KOENIG MARIE,JOSEPH,PIERRE,FRANCOIS". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  15. ^ 16 July 1946 Monitor Polski 1947 no. 27 pos. 188


  1. ^ Marshal of France is a dignity and not a rank
  2. ^ French pronunciation: ​[maʁi pjɛʁ køniɡ]

External links[edit]