Georges Pompidou Biography

Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou, the longest serving Prime Minister of France, played a crucial role in providing stability and strengthening the economy of the country. He later became the President of France, where he continued to foster good relations with various nations and made significant contributions to the European Community. Despite lacking formal training in banking, Pompidou successfully directed the Rothschild bank. His ability to negotiate and resolve conflicts, such as a miner’s strike and a student uprising, showcased his diplomatic skills. Overall, Pompidou’s leadership and accomplishments left a lasting impact on France’s political and economic landscape.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou
  • Died At Age: 62
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Claude Jacqueline Pompidou
    • Siblings: Madeleine Pompidou
    • Children: Alain Pompidou
  • Born Country: France
  • Presidents
  • Prime Ministers
  • Died on: April 2, 1974
  • Place of death: Paris, French Fifth Republic France

Childhood & Early Life

Georges Pompidou was born on July 5, 1911 in Monboudif, Cantal, in central France. Both his parents were rural teachers and Pompidou also followed the path and became a teacher. After graduating from the secondary school ‘Lycee Louis-le-Grand’ in Paris, he did a ‘khagne’ to prepare himself for competitive exams for the three ‘Ecole normales superieures’ and the business schools called ‘Ecole nationale des chartes’. He joined the famous ‘Ecole Normale Superieure’ in Paris in 1931. In 1934 he passed the ‘aggregation’ exam which qualified him to be a teacher. He received a diploma from ‘Ecole libre des sciences politique’ on literature.

Career

Georges Pompidou started teaching literature in Marsellies and then at the ‘Lycee Henri IV’ in Paris after obtaining his diploma. He joined the infantry regiment of the French army during the Second World War in 1939 and left the army in 1940. He went back to his teaching profession and started working quietly for the resistance. In late 1944 he met Charles de Gaulle, the President of the provisional government. He served in de Gaulle’s staff from 1944 to 1946 as a member of his ‘shadow cabinet’ till de Gaulle resigned suddenly in 1946. After de Gaulle’s resignation, Pompidou became an assistant to the ‘General Commissioner for Tourism’ and served in this post from 1946 to 1949. He also held the post of ‘maitre des requetes’ at France’s highest administrative court ‘Conseil d’Etat’ from 1946 to 1957. In 1955 he left his government position to work for Guy de Rothschild who hired him to work at the Rothschild bank. Though he had no formal qualifications as a banker, he rose to become the general manager of the bank in 1959.

When Charles de Gaulle returned to power in June 1958, he made Pompidou his chief personal assistant. He worked in this post till January 1959 and helped in the drafting of the constitution for the Fifth Republic. He took a leave of six months from the bank to help de Gaulle and returned to his job at the Rothschild bank in January 1959. In 1961 he was sent by de Gaulle to negotiate with the ‘Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale’ or FLN guerillas and was successful in bringing about a ceasefire between the Algerian guerillas and the French troops in Algeria. Charles de Gaulle appointed Pompidou, a completely unknown political figure till then, as the Prime Minister replacing Michel Debre in April 1962. He served as the Prime Minister from April 16, 1962 to July 21, 1968. In October 1962, Pompidou was defeated in no-confidence vote in the National Assembly but de Gaulle dissolved the National Assembly. In 1964, he was reappointed as the Prime Minister when the Gaullists won the legislative election. During this time he faced a strike by miners which he was able to solve amicably. In 1967 he won the legislative election as the head of the ‘Union of Democrats for the Fifth Republic’ by a narrow margin. He successfully negotiated with striking students and workers in May 1968. During this period the relation between de Gaulle and Pompidou got strained as many differences of opinions came up between them.

He won the legislative elections again in 1968 leading to a huge victory for the Gaullist party. He resigned from the party after the victory. He announced his candidature for the President’s post in January 1969. He was elected the President of France when de Gaulle had resigned after losing the constitutional referendum. After the general elections Pompidou was elected to the post of President on June 15, 1969. On January 1, 1973 he helped the United Kingdom to join the European Community. He helped France to get closer to the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The French economy under him flourished hugely during the period 1960 to 1970 and was even better than the West German economy.

Awards & Achievements

Georges Pompidou was honored with ‘Croix de Guerre’ during his stint in the French infantry in World War II.

Personal Life & Legacy

He married Claude Cahour in 1935 and she remained with him till his death. He had a son named Alain from the marriage. Georges Pompidou died suddenly on April 2, 1974 due to ill-health which had been continuing for quite some time.

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