Albert Lebrun

Albert Lebrun

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Albert François Lebrun (albɛʁ ləbʁœ̃; 1871–1950) was a French politician, President of France from 1932 to 1940. He was the last president of the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

. He was a member of the center-right Democratic Republican Alliance
Democratic Republican Alliance
The Democratic Republican Alliance was a French political party created in 1901 by followers of Léon Gambetta, such as Raymond Poincaré who would be president of the Council in the 1920s...

 (ARD).

Biography


Born to a farming family in Mercy-le-Haut
Mercy-le-Haut
Mercy-le-Haut is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in north-eastern France.-See also:*Communes of the Meurthe-et-Moselle department...

, Meurthe-et-Moselle, he attended the École Polytechnique
École Polytechnique
The École Polytechnique is a state-run institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, Essonne, France, near Paris. Polytechnique is renowned for its four year undergraduate/graduate Master's program...

and the École des Mines, graduating from both at the top of his class. He then became a mining engineer in Vesoul
Vesoul
Vesoul is a commune in the Haute-Saône department in the region of Franche-Comté in eastern France.The town is the capital of the department, its inhabitants are known in French as Vésuliens.-Notable people:...

 and Nancy, but left that profession at the age of 29 to enter politics.

Lebrun gained a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in 1900 as a member of the Left Republican Party, later serving on the cabinet as Minister for the Colonies from 1912–1914, Minister of War in 1913 and Minister for Liberated Regions, 1917–1919. Joining the Democratic Alliance, he was elected to the French senate from Meurthe-et-Moselle
Meurthe-et-Moselle
Meurthe-et-Moselle is a department in the Lorraine region of France, named after the Meurthe and Moselle rivers.- History :Meurthe-et-Moselle was created in 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian War from the parts of the former departments of Moselle and Meurthe which remained French...

 in 1920, and served as Vice President of the Senate from 1925 through 1929. He was president of that body from 1931–1932.

Lebrun was elected president of France following the assassination of president Paul Doumer
Paul Doumer
Joseph Athanase Paul Doumer, commonly known as Paul Doumer was the President of France from 13 June 1931 until his assassination.-Biography:...

 by Pavel Gurgulov
Paul Gorguloff
Paul Gorguloff, originally Pavel Timofeyevich Gorgulov was a Russian emigre who assassinated French President Paul Doumer at a book fair in 1932. Gorgulov was born in Labinskaya, Russia and died at La Santé prison in Paris, France by guillotine. His defence of insanity was rejected...

 on 6 May 1932. Re-elected in 1939, largely because of his record of accommodating all political sides, he exercised little power as president. On 10 July 1940, Lebrun was replaced by Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

 (although Lebrun never officially resigned) as head of state by a vote of the parliament
The Vichy 80
The Vichy 80 were a group of elected French parliamentarians who, on 10 July 1940, voted against the constitutional change that dissolved the Third Republic and established an authoritarian regime known as Vichy France....

.

He then fled to Vizille
Vizille
Vizille is a commune in the Isère department in south-eastern France.Vizille is home to the Musée de la Révolution Française de Vizille, a rich depository of archival and rare materials devoted to the French Revolution, housed since 1984 in the Château de Vizille, a Monument Historique. The library...

 (Isère) on 15 July, but was captured on 27 August 1943 when the Germans moved into the region and was sent into captivity at the Itter Castle
Itter Castle
Itter Castle is a small castle standing on a high knoll in Itter, a village in North Tyrol , 20 km west of Kitzbühel.The castle was used from 1943–45, during the Nazi occupation of France, to incarcerate prominent French prisoners...

 in Tyrol
County of Tyrol
The County of Tyrol, Princely County from 1504, was a State of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1814 a province of the Austrian Empire and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary...

. On 10 October 1943 he was allowed to return to Vizille due to poor health, but was kept under constant surveillance.

On 9 August 1944, when the Allies restored the French government, Lebrun met with Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

and acknowledged the General's leadership, saying that he had not formally resigned as president because the dissolution of the National Assembly had left nobody to accept his resignation.

After the war, Lebrun lived in retirement. He died of pneumonia in Paris on 6 March 1950 after a protracted illness.