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Bidault, Georges (1899–1983)

French resistance leader, politician, foreign minister, and prime minister in 1946 and again during 1949–1950. Born in Moulins (Allier), France, on 5 October 1899, Georges Bidault was educated at the Sorbonne and became a history teacher. From 1932 to 1939 he edited the Catholic daily L'Aube. An active opponent of fascism and Nazism, in 1942 he cofounded Combat, a resistance organization. After the death of Jean Moulin at the hands of the Gestapo in 1943, Bidault followed him as the president of the National Resistance Council (CNR) that coordinated the various resistance movements in France.

In November 1944 Bidault helped found the Mouvement Républicain Populaire (MRP), the French centrist Christian democratic party that, along with the communists and socialists, was one of the three largest French political parties. Bidault served as French foreign minister during 1944–1948, first under the provisional government and then in the Fourth Republic. He was again foreign minister during 1953–1954.

Bidault was twice premier of France, from July to December 1946 and from October 1949 to June 1950. As foreign minister and premier he was closely associated with the formation of the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the European Coal and Steel and European Defense Communities. As did so many of his countrymen, he greatly feared a resurgent Germany.

Bidault strongly supported the notion of a French empire and authorized French High Commissioner to Indochina Georges Thierry d'Argenlieu to employ force if need be against the Vietnamese nationalists. Although Bidault probably did not understand d'Argenlieu's intent, this led to the outbreak of the Indochina War. From 1949 to 1950 Bidault was again premier and he was foreign minister during 1951–1952 and 1953–1954. He tried but failed to form a government in June 1953 and was an unsuccessful candidate for president of France that December.

Bidault initially supported Charles de Gaulle's return to power in 1958 but broke with him over the issue of Algerian independence. Bidault then headed a new National Resistance Council to maintain French Algeria, and he supported the anti-independence and terrorist Secret Army Organization (OAS). Charged with treason in 1962, Bidault went into exile in Brazil and did not return to France until de Gaulle pardoned him in 1968. During his postexile years, Bidault avidly defended his subversive activities. He died in Camboles-Bains, France, on 27 January 1983.

John H. Barnhill and Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Bosworth, W. Catholicism and Crisis in Modern France. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1962.; Callot, E.-F. Le M.R.P.: Origine, structure, doctrine, programme, et action politique. Paris: M. Rivère, 1978.; Irving, R. E. M. Christian Democracy in France. London: Allen and Unwin, 1973.
 

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