Publication Date

10-31-2015

Advisor(s)

Nathanael Greene

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis explores the career in the 1930s of Paul Reynaud, a French center-right politician who took a number of positions that ran counter to settled French economic, military and diplomatic policies in the aftermath of the First World War, as well as to the orthodoxies of his own political movement. Reynaud supported the devaluation of the French franc, the adoption of an offensive military strategy based on the creation of armored forces, and diplomatic alliances with the Soviet Union and Great Britain, all in the service of preparing France to deal with the threat of Nazi Germany. Reynaud's economic theories contributed to the economic revival of France in 1938-1939 while he was Minister of Finance. Reynaud was premier in May-June 1940, when Germany forces overwhelmed the French army. Although he advocated continued resistance to Germany, Reynaud lost the support of his cabinet in June 1940 and eventually resigned as premier, allowing Philippe Petain to become head of a collaborationist Vichy France.

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