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André François-Poncet
André François-Poncet
(13 June 1887 – 8 January 1978) was a French politician and diplomat whose post as ambassador to Germany allowed him to witness first-hand the rise to power of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
and the Nazi Party, and the Nazi regime's preparations for World War II. François-Poncet was the son of a counselor of the Court of Appeals in Paris. A student of German studies at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, his first area of study was journalism. One of François-Poncet's early written works included observations made during several journeys to the German Empire
German Empire
in the years prior to World War I. During the war, he served as an infantry lieutenant. Between 1917 and 1919, he was assigned to the press office of the French embassy in Bern, Switzerland
Switzerland
and later served with the International Economic Mission in the United States and in other diplomatic roles under a series of French leaders. François-Poncet became managing director of the Société d'études et d'informations économiques (Society for Economic Studies and Information). In 1924 he was replaced by Émile Mireaux.[1] He served as a delegate to the League of Nations, and, in August 1931, was named undersecretary of state and ambassador to Weimar Germany. From his post in Berlin, François-Poncet witnessed the rise of Hitler, and later observed the signs of Germany's plans for World War II. The insightful François-Poncet was described by American journalist William Shirer
William Shirer
in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as "the best informed ambassador in Berlin", but the French government generally did not heed the ambassador's many warnings about Hitler's intentions. François-Poncet was inadvertently involved in the purge of the Night of the Long Knives
Night of the Long Knives
when, in Hitler's justification for the killings, he referred to a dinner François-Poncet had attended with Ernst Röhm
Ernst Röhm
and Kurt von Schleicher
Kurt von Schleicher
as evidence that the men had been conspiring with the French to overthrow the German government. As this evidence was manufactured, François-Poncet himself was never named nor charged with anything.[2][3] Shortly after the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
was signed in 1938, François-Poncet left his post as French ambassador to Germany after a farewell visit to Hitler at the Eagle's Nest on 18 October 1938. He was then reassigned to Rome
Rome
as ambassador to Fascist Italy. He served in that position until 1940 when Italy declared war to France. Arrested by the Gestapo
Gestapo
during the wartime German occupation of France, François-Poncet was imprisoned for three years. In 1949, he was named French high commissioner to West Germany, a position which was later elevated to ambassador. François-Poncet served in this capacity until 1955. He was later vice president and president of the French Red Cross. In 1952, he was elected to the Académie française, taking the seat previously occupied by Marshal Philippe Petain. Occasionally contributing to the French newspaper Le Figaro, François-Poncet wrote numerous books, several based on his experience as French ambassador to Germany in the 1930s and reflecting his lifelong interest in Germany. At least one of his works, Souvenirs d’une ambassade à Berlin, published in France
France
in 1946, was translated to English as The Fateful Years: Memoirs of a French Ambassador in Berlin, 1931–1938 in 1949. André François-Poncet
André François-Poncet
was the father of Jean François-Poncet, also a French politician and diplomat. The son served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. References[edit]

^ *Bousquet, Pierre (1983), Histoire de l'administration de l'enseignement en France, 1789–1981, Librairie Droz, p. 65fn, ISBN 978-2-600-03393-0, retrieved 2017-07-08  ^ Bennett, John (1967). The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics 1918–1945, p. 327 ^ Larson, Erik (2011). In the Garden of Beasts, chapter 51

External links[edit]

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Article on François-Poncet by the Académie française

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Académie française
Académie française
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Jean Baudoin (1634) François Charpentier (1650) Jean François de Chamillart (1702) Claude Louis Hector de Villars, Duke of Villars (1714) Honoré Armand de Villars, Duke of Villars (1734) "Cardinal Loménie de Brienne" (1770) Jean Gérard Lacuée, Count of Cessac (1803) Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
(1841) Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire (1860) Albert de Broglie, Duke of Broglie (1862) Melchior de Vogüé (1901) Ferdinand Foch
Ferdinand Foch
(1918) Philippe Pétain
Philippe Pétain
(1929) André François Poncet (1952) Edgar Faure
Edgar Faure
(1978) Michel Serres
Michel Serres
(1990)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 29533980 LCCN: n85381411 ISNI: 0000 0001 1023 356X GND: 118534726 SELIBR: 187317 SUDOC: 026873087 BNF: cb119034340 (data) ICCU: ITICCURAVV51160 BN

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