Georges Mandel

Georges Mandel was born in France in 1885. He worked as a journalist in Paris and worked for Georges Clemenceau in the ministry of the interior. He also helped Clemenceau control the press and the trade union movement during the First World War.

In 1934 Mandel entered the government as postal minister. He also became a strong advocate of a military alliance with the Soviet Union to control the actions of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. He also opposed the Munich Agreement and the policy of appeasement. Mandel was accused of those on the right of being a warmonger and claimed he was being influenced by his Jewish ancestry.

In September 1939 Mandel argued that the French Army should fight an offensive war. After the armistice in June 1940 Mandel was forced to flee to Morocco. However, he was arrested and imprisoned by General Charles Nogues on the orders of Pierre Laval.

Winston Churchill, who described Mandel as "the first resister" tried to arrange his rescue but it was unsuccessful. Mandel was turned over to the Gestapo and together with Leon Blum was sent to Buchenwald. Georges Mandel was returned to France where he was murdered by the Milice on 7th July, 1944.

Primary Sources

(1) Time Magazine (12th March, 1945)

For five years France had not heard the rasping, unafraid voice of Georges Mandel, the slight, sallow man who was born Jeroboam Rothschild, brought up as Clemenceau's child, and had been the Third Republic's last Minister of the Interior. He had fled to Morocco after the 1940 debacle. He would rouse the Empire, he cried, to fight on. Vichy and the Gestapo nabbed and jailed him, buried him in silence. Last July, on a bypath of Fontainebleau Forest, militia of Vichy's Joseph Darnand rubbed him out in gangster style.

But last week Georges Mandel spoke to France again, as rasping and unafraid as ever. On his bullet-ridden corpse had been found a packet of penciled paper scraps and a tiny notebook. Overlooked by the assassins, the scraps were saved by a loyal official, handed over to Mandel's devoted mistress, blond, Junoesque Madame Beatrice Bretty of the Comédie Française. Now, with Madame Bretty's permission, they were published in Mandel's old paper, the Rightist L'Ordre.

Forces of the Axe. Mandel wrote of his intense suffering in captivity. It was physical: he could not sleep, his frail body was racked by pain. But he would not surrender. He addressed himself to Marshal Petain: "I am honored to have deserved this [German] hatred because, like a faithful disciple of Clemenceau, I have always applied an unbending will to the task of maintaining for France the place in the world which was assigned to her by the 1918 victory. . . .

"There was only one way out for you, to sentence me without trial. . . . The Germans must be very exacting masters. Isn't it your Minister of Justice who said: 'They drive us by kicks in the ass.' . . . I leave you with these words: 'I will be waiting for you at the downfall of the forces of the axe.' It is the most marvelous revenge and also the only reparation that a Frenchman may desire who up to his last breath had only one religion—that of his country. . . ."

Proudly France accepted this legacy of patriotism. Then it honored the donor in a manner wholly French. At the Comédie Française Madame Bretty played her first stage role (Lisette in Le Légataire Universel) since liberation. From the crowded audience came wave after wave of deep applause, for her and for Georges Mandel.