Philippe Henriot

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Philippe Henriot (January 7, 1889, Reims—June 28, 1944, Paris) was a French politician.

Moving to the nationalistic side of politics after beginning as a Roman Catholic conservative in the National Catholic Federation (FNC), Henriot was elected to the Third Republic's Chamber of Deputies for the Gironde Département in 1932 and 1936. In the latter year General de Castelnau, leader of the FNC, described Henriot as "an ardent defender of our religion, the family and society."[1] His speeches are said to have showed him to be anti-communist, anti-semitic, anti-Freemasonry, and opposed to liberal parliamentary democracy. In the mid-1930s Henriot's anti-Republican beliefs made him a natural opponent of the Popular Front in France, and a supporter of Franco's nationalists in Spain.[2] Initially, these were combined with strong anti-German sentiment, common in France, but Henriot subsequently became an active supporter of National Socialist Germany in 1941, after it invaded the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa).

In 1940, after the capitulation of France, he supported Philippe Pétain's government in France. Henriot developed into one of the most enthusiastic propagandists for collaboration. His commitment to Germany was rooted in his anti-communism and he saw this collaboration as "the natural corollary to fight against Bolshevism as the enemy of Christianity". He was a powerful voice of Radio Paris, and afterwards Radio Vichy, calling upon good Roman Catholics to support the fight against Bolshevism.[3] He also engineered a war of propaganda against de Gaulle's so-called and renegade Free French Forces[4] and the BBC. These activities earned him the nickname of the 'French Goebbels', and they were continued after Germany moved into southern France to counter the plutocratic Allies in the Mediterranean theatre of the war. In 1943, he joined the paramilitary Milice.

On January 6 1944, he was made the Minister of Information and Propaganda. There is no doubt that Henriot's broadcasts were influential, attracting a large and diverse audience. This made him an obvious target for the so-called 'resistance'.[5] The following June 28, in the Ministry building where he slept, a group of fifteen members of the terrorist organisation, the Maquis, - dressed as members of the government's Milice - murdered him in his bed.[6] (In retaliation, Georges Mandel, a long-time opponent of collaboration, was killed by the Milice.) A State Funeral was afforded Henriot, and Cardinal Suhard, Archbishop of Paris, conducted a memorial service in the cathedral of Notre-Dame.[7]

See also


  1. Atkin, Nicholas, and Tallett, Frank, The Right in France - From Revolution to Le Pen, Tauris Books, London, 2003, p.224. ISBN 1-86064-916-5
  2. Atkin & Tallett, 2003, p.224-5.
  3. Atkin & Tallett, 2003, p.225.
  4. Werth, Alexander, France 1940-1955, London, 1957, p.74.
  5. Atkin & Tallett, 2003, p.224-5.
  6. Werth, 1957, p.286.
  7. Werth, 1957, p.64.

BBC History Magazine's Podcast (July 2010)