Georges Bidault

Georges Bidault

Georges Bidault was born in Moulins, France, in 1899. After being educated at the Sorbonne and working as a history teacher, Bidault founded the Catholic Association of French Youth and in 1932 helped to establish the left-wing newspaper, L'Aube, that campaigned against Fascism and anti-Semitism. In 1938 Bidault was one of the leading opponents in France against the Munich Agreement.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Bidault joined the French Army. He was captured during the Invasion of France in 1940. When he was released the following year he joined the Liberté resistance group that eventually merged with Verites to become Combat.

When Jean Moulin arrived back in France in January, 1942, he recruited Bidault to organize the underground press for the French Resistance. This included editing Combat where he worked with Albert Camus.

Bidault was involved in the negotiations that united the different resistance groups working in France and was present at he first meeting of Conseil National de la Resistance (CNR) on 27th May 1943. After the capture and killing of Jean Moulin in July, 1943, Bidault became president of CNR.

In March 1944 Bidault was the key figure behind what became known as the Resistance Charter. The document put forward an extensive reform programme that it expected to be implement once the war was over.

As head of the Conseil National de la Resistance Bidault organized the uprising against the German Army in August 1944. When Charles De Gaulle arrived back in France he appointed Bidault as foreign minister in his provisional government that he formed after the successful D-Day Landings.

Bidault became prime minister of France in 1946 and in 1949-50. Other posts included defence minister (1951-52) and foreign minister (1953-54) before becoming prime minister in 1958.

Bidault became increasingly conservative and in 1958 founded a new right-wing Christian Democratic Party. Bidault was furious in 1961 when Charles De Gaulle began negotiating Algerian independence and established the National Resistance Council. After advocating terrorism in France and Algeria he was charged with treason. Bidault fled to Brazil in 1963 and did not return until 1968. Georges Bidault died in Cambo-les-Bains on 27th January, 1983.

Primary Sources

(1) Combat, circular (1st December, 1941)

Now, the Country is in danger. She demands volunteers. Respond to her call. Let us organize together the Crusade of Truth against Falsehood, Good against Evil, Christianity against Paganism, or Liberty against Slavery.

(2) Combat, circular (25th September, 1943)

Victory is approaching. There are still Frenchmen who have done nothing to hasten the event. Warning! There is not much more time. It is not enough to listen to the radio from London or to read Combat, one must fully involve himself. Take risks, be ready to fight. In the new France, a man will be judged by his acts. We are accepting workers of the eleventh hour. Soon it will be noon!