Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Giraud, Henri Honoré (1879–1949)

French army general. Born in Paris on 18 January 1879, Henri Giraud graduated from the French Military Academy of Saint-Cyr in 1900. During World War I, he fought on the Western Front. As a captain he was taken prisoner by the Germans near Guise in late August 1914, but he escaped that October and returned to France in February 1915. Giraud distinguished himself in later fighting, rising at the end of the war to command a battalion.

Giraud was in Turkey from 1918 to 1922 and in Morocco from 1922 to 1934. He played an important role in the Riffian Wars in Morocco, and his forces captured Moroccan nationalist leader Abd-el-Krim in 1926. Giraud was promoted to colonel in 1927, to brigadier general in 1930, to major general in 1934, and to lieutenant general in 1936. He commanded the Sixth Military Region at Metz, France, from 1936 to 1939. On the French military mobilization for World War II on 2 September 1939, he took command of Seventh Army as a full general. Giraud had little comprehension of the new theories of high-speed warfare with tanks operating en masse.

When the Germans invaded France and the Low Countries in May 1940, Giraud led the Seventh Army into Belgium in accordance with the Allied plan. On 15 May, he assumed command of the collapsing Ninth Army. The Germans captured Giraud on 18 May at Wassigny and imprisoned him at Königstein in Saxony. Giraud escaped on 17 April 1942 and crossed Germany to Switzerland and then to Vichy France—embarrassing Vichy officials, who had been attempting to improve relations with the German occupiers. At a meeting on 2 May 1942 attended by Admiral Jean Fran=ois Darlan and Pierre Laval, Giraud refused to accept German Ambassador Otto Abetz's invitation to return to prison.

In November 1942, Giraud was spirited out of France and transported by the British submarine Seraph to North Africa. (The Anglophobic Giraud had insisted on an American boat, but none was available, and so he was tricked into believing the Seraph was a U.S. submarine). U.S. and British officials, hoping that Giraud might replace Charles de Gaulle as leader of Free French Forces, made him commander of French forces in North Africa in December 1942. On 30 May 1943, de Gaulle arrived in Algiers, and on 3 June agreement was reached whereby Giraud became copresident with de Gaulle of the French Committee of National Liberation. De Gaulle was easily able to elbow the politically inept Giraud aside, and the arrangement only lasted until 9 November 1943, when Giraud resigned.

As commander in chief of French armed forces until 4 April 1944, Giraud continued to play an important role in rebuilding the French military forces before being forced to retire. In June 1946, Giraud won election to the French National Assembly from Moselle, and he continued to serve as vice president of the Supreme War Council until 1948. Giraud died at Dijon on 11 March 1949.

John MacFarlane


Further Reading
de Charbonnières, Guy de Girard. Le duel Giraud–de Gaulle. Paris: Plon, 1984.; Giraud, Henri. Mes évasions. Paris: Julliard, 1946.; Giraud, Henri. Un seul but, la victoire. Paris: Julliard, 1949.; Kaspi, André. La mission de Jean Monnet à Alger. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1971.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  X
  Y
  Z
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer