Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Bergeret, Jean Marie Joseph (1895–1956)

French army general and air minister in the Vichy government. Born in Gray, Haute Saône, France, on 23 August 1895, Jean Bergeret volunteered for military service at the start of World War I and was selected for special officer training at the French Military Academy of St. Cyr. Immediately after graduation, he saw combat, in which he distinguished himself. Bergeret showed remarkable ability and won rapid promotion. After attending the French War School, he joined the Armée de l'Air, the French military air service, in 1928. He rose to air staff chief of operations and won promotion to brigadier general shortly before the beginning of World War II.

When Germany invaded France in May 1940, the marked French inferiority to Germany in the air caused Bergeret some humiliation. He remained loyal to the Vichy government, heading the commission that negotiated armistice terms with Italy in the summer of 1940. From September 1940 until April 1942, he served as air minister. The return to the government of the collaborationist Pierre Laval, whom Bergeret despised, led him to resign. Bergeret was then appointed inspector of air defenses.

In November 1942, just before the Allied invasion of North Africa, Bergeret joined General Henri Giraud in Algiers, where he became personal assistant and confidential adviser to Admiral Jean Darlan. He was in charge of the latter's headquarters security arrangements when Darlan was assassinated in his office in December 1942. From then until March 1943, Bergeret was deputy high commissioner for North Africa. In October 1943, a Gaullist purge of the National Resistance Council brought Bergeret's arrest and that of several other Vichy supporters, and he was imprisoned until September 1945. Eventually, in November 1948, all charges against him were dropped, although his career was effectively over. Bergeret died in Neuilly, near Paris, on 30 November 1956.

Priscilla Roberts


Further Reading
Charbonnières, Guy de Girard de. Le duel Giraud–de Gaulle. Paris: Plon, 1984.; Macmillan, Harold. War Diaries: Politics and War in the Mediterranean, January 1943–1945. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984.; Ordioni, Pierre. Tout commence à Alger, 1940–1945. Paris: Éditions Albatros, 1985.; Paxton, Robert O. Parades and Politics at Vichy: The French Officer Corps under Marshal Pétain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966.
 

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