Laval, Pierre, 1883-1945

Laval first became infamous on an international level when he, as French Foreign Minister, accompanied by Sir Samuel Hoare, the British Foreign Secretary, made a secret agreement with Italy to surrender Abyssinian territory to her. Once the Hoare-Laval Plan was made public both Ministers resigned. Laval surfaced again as Deputy Head of State and Foreign Minister when PETAIN was appointed Head of State by the National Assembly on 23 June 1940, after the fall of France. He had reached the conclusion early in the Battle of France that German victory was imminent and thus continued to woo Germany even if it meant having to repress dissident Frenchmen. Accused of plotting, Laval was ousted from office in December 1940 but was reinstated in April 1942. When France was liberated by the Allies he withdrew to Germany accompanied by the now-puppet regime. At the end of the war Laval was found in Spain, was deported, tried in France, found guilty and shot at Fresnes prison. Disliked by the Allies and most Frenchmen and distrusted by his German ‘friends’ he saw himself as a French patriot, a view which finds little support.

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