Daladier, Prime Minister Edouard, 1884-1970

Daladier came to power in France as a leader of the Radical Socialists when the Popular Front began to disintegrate. He was supposed to be acceptable to all parties but after he signed the Munich Agreement in September 1938, he lost the support of the Socialists and had to rely on the right wing. After the German invasion of Poland Daladier made a broadcast on 1 October 1939 in which he spoke of France’s intention to fight Germany. His government also prepared to help the Finns in October 1939. The French people lost confidence in Daladier because of his indecisiveness as witnessed by the fact that French volunteers arrived in Finland too late to be of any use. His government fell on 20 March 1940. He retained a Cabinet post as Minister of National Defense, which was a mistake. Daladier’s policy as Defense Minister was conservative—he supported the out-ofdate strategies of France’s old Generals and felt that a change in leadership at this late stage would create too much confusion. Following the German invasion of France he tried to help resistance in North Africa but was captured and taken back to Vichy France. He was charged with leading France into war unprepared. He was interned in Buchenwald and Dachau but was freed in April 1945.

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