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Briand, Aristide

(480 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Briand, Aristide (March 28, 1862, Nantes – March 7, 1932, Paris), French politician (prime minister). For a period of more than 30 years Briand remained one of the most influential politicians in France; serving as a deputy in the National Assembly without interruption from 1902 to his death. He was a member of 25 governments, in various posts, and held the office of prime minister several times (e.g. between October of 1915 and March of 1917 in two separate cabinets of the “union sacrée”). Briand…

Jaurès, Jean

(450 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Jaurès, Jean (September 3, 1859, Castres – July 31, 1914, Paris [assassinated]), French politician and political commentator. He came from a middle-class family in southwest France, and was probably the most important French Socialist of the prewar period. Originally Professor of Philosophy at Toulouse, he was not only active as parliamentarian, party leader and political commentator. As no one else, he also successfully programmatically left his mark on the French Socialist movement as a theorist and historian. Jaurès’s thinking and action revolved around the two poles …

Hervé, Gustave

(314 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Hervé, Gustave (January 2, 1871, Brest – October 25, 1944, Paris), French politician and commentator. Hervé attracted attention as a radical, antimilitarist journalist during the years 1901 to 1905; he became a national celebrity by his recommendation to workers that they should “ planter le drapeau sur le fumier” (plant the flag on the dung heap). In a newspaper Hervé founded in 1906, La Guerre sociale, he consistently signed his articles with “ un sans-patrie” (a stateless person). He maintained with extraordinary vehemence the thesis that workers had no homeland an…

Ferry, Abel

(249 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Ferry, Abel (May 26, 1881, Paris – September 15, 1918, Jaulzy [Aisne]), French politician. As nephew of Jules Ferry, the dominant French statesman of the 1880s, and as the son of the parliamentarian Charles Ferry, Abel Ferry came from a highly respected political family. After studying law in Paris, in 1909 he was elected to parliament as the deputy for Épinal (department of the Vosges), identifying himself with the moderate left. In the cabinet formed by René Viviani in 1914, Ferry was named unde…

Thomas, Albert

(400 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Thomas, Albert ( June 16, 1878, Champigny-sur-Marne – May 7, 1932, Paris), French politician (minister of armament). Thomas, who came from a petty bourgeois background, joined the socialist movement after completing his studies at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He worked in the editorial offices of Humanité, and served as a delegate to the Party Unity Day of 1910. Since 1905 Thomas had also been included in the top leadership of the French Socialist Party, Section Française de l’International Ouvrière (SFIO), advocating for a reform course. After the outbreak of the war Th…

Viviani, René

(302 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Viviani, René (August 11, 1863, Sidi-bel-Abbès, Algeria – September 7, 1925, Le Plessis-Robinson [Département Hauts-de-Seine]), French politician who became prime minister. A lawyer and journalist of Italian heritage, Viviani began his political career as an “independent socialist.” He was elected to Parliament for the first time in 1893. Viviani was a confirmed reformist. He distanced himself from the socialist parties because they had refused to work together with the “bourgeois” governments sin…

Sembat, Marcel

(398 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Sembat, Marcel (October 19, 1862, Bonnières-sur-Seine – September 5, 1922, Chamonix Mont Blanc), French politician. A lawyer and journalist, Sembat belonged along with Jean Jaurès and Alexandre Millerand to a group of bourgeois intellectuals who significantly influenced the French form of socialism. After early work in the left-republican and socialist press, in 1893 Sembat was elected for the first time to a seat in the National Assembly representing Paris’s Grandes-Carrières working-class district, an office which he was to …

Merrheim, Alphonse

(302 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Merrheim, Alphonse (May 7, 1871, La Madeleine [Département Nord] – October 22, 1925 [unknown]), French trade union leader. Merrheim was born into a working class family in the industrial region of Northern France. In the 1890s he joined the Syndicalist movement aimed at the takeover of the means of production by autonomous trade unions, as advocated by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), in which he himself took on a leading role after the turn of the century. At the outbreak of the First World War, Merrheim differed from the leadership of the CGT under Léon Jouhaux in rejecting the U…

Alsace-Lorraine

(1,831 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Alsace-Lorraine As a Reichsland, part of the German Reich from 1871. The desire on the part of France to exact revenge for defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1871, and reverse the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by the newly founded German Reich under the terms of the Frankfurt Peace Treaty, has often been regarded, particularly by the Germans, as an important causal factor in respect of the origins of the First World War. In the light of recent research, however, this conception must now be seen as o…

Ribot, Alexandre

(268 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Ribot, Alexandre (February 7, 1842, Saint-Omer – January 14, 1923, Paris), French politician (prime minister). A lawyer by profession, Ribot belonged to France’s innermost parliamentary leadership from the beginning of the 1880s as an expert on financial matters and foreign affairs, representing the liberal right wing of the Republican Party (1878–1909 deputy, 1909–1923 senator). As foreign minister between 1890 and 1892 he played a decisive role in bringing about the Franco-Russian alliance and c…

Millerand, Alexandre Etienne

(352 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Millerand, Alexandre Etienne (February 10, 1859, Paris – April 6, 1943, Versailles), French politician. For more than 40 years, Millerand had an undisputed place among the leading figures of the French Third Republic. He came to national attention at the beginning of the 1890s as leader of the reform wing of the Socialist Party. In 1899, at the peak of the Dreyfus Affair, he entered the gouvernement de défense républicaine (Government for the Defense of the Republic) of Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau. As minister of commerce, Millerand then quickly became alienated from…

Barrès, Maurice

(394 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Barrès, Maurice (September 22, 1862, Charmes, département Vosges – December 4, 1923, Neuilly-sur-Seine), French writer and politician. Originally from Lorraine, Barrès was one of the most important exponents of prewar French nationalism. Having come to public attention as the author of a trilogy of novels ( Le Culte du moi, 1888–1891), Barrès turned to the politics and the ideology of nationalism in the wake of the political crisis triggered by General Georges Boulanger in the 1880s that shook the French state and society. Barrès believed that…

Maurras, Charles

(347 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Maurras, Charles (March 20, 1868, Martigues [Département Bouches-du-Rhône] – November 16, 1952, Tours), French politician. Maurras is considered one of the most influential theorists and instigators of French conservatism in the first half of the 20th century. His influence extended far beyond the neo-royalist organization Action française, of which he was the leader for over 40 years, and also far beyond the newspaper that bore the same name. The appeal of Maurras’ ideas lay in their highly original manner of combining royalist and nationa…