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Jacques Doriot

(1898—1945)


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(b. Bresles, 26 Sept. 1898; d. Mengen, Germany, 23 Feb. 1945)

French; Communist and Fascist leader Doriot came from a working-class background, fought in the latter stages of the First World War, and in 1920 flung himself into the revolutionary politics of the newly formed Communist Party. Physically courageous and an aggressive speaker, imprisoned several times for his anti-colonial activities, he rose rapidly through the Communist hierarchy. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1924 and subsequently established a power base as deputy mayor of the working-class Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. His independence of judgement probably explains why he failed to become party leader in the early 1930s; and in 1934 he left the Communist Party when it failed to respond to the resurgence of mass anti-regime movements of the right. The irony is that within three years he was founder and leader of just such a movement, the Parti Populaire Français. The PPF was based on profound anti-Communism, and it was this that led Doriot in 1940 to offer his support to Pétain. Regarded as a dangerous revolutionary by the bourgeois traditionalists of Vichy, he turned himself into a fanatical supporter of the Nazi vision of a New Europe and saw the PPF as its shock troops. He was a founder member of the Legion of Volunteers against Bolshevism, and donned a German uniform to fight on the eastern front. In 1944 he went to Germany and was killed in 1945 when the car he was travelling in was machine gunned by Allied planes.

Doriot's war experiences left him with a loathing of the established political and social order which led him to try one and then the other of the revolutionary ideologies which rejected it. Regarded as the most authentically Fascist of France's right-wing opponents of Republican democracy, he remains a pariah figure.


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