BLUM, LÉON (1872–1950), statesman; the first Jew and the first socialist to become premier of France. Son of a wealthy Alsatian merchant, Blum graduated with the highest honors in law at the Sorbonne. At the age of 22, he was recognized as a poet and writer. His publications included En lisant: reflexions critiques (1906), Au Théâtre, 4 vols. (1905–11), and a book about Stendhal (1914). His Du Mariage (1907; Marriage, 1937) created a sensation because of its advocacy of trial marriage and was quoted against him years later when he was premier. Blum was also a brilliant literary and drama critic. Blum was appointed to the Conseil d'État, a body whose functions included the settlement of conflicts between administrative and judicial authorities. He rose to the high rank of "Master of Requests," one of the principal offices in the Conseil d'État. Always conscious of his Jewish origin, Blum was brought into active politics as a result of the dreyfus Affair. His close association with Jean Jaurès, whom he greatly admired, led to his joining the Socialist Party in 1899. Blum was first elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1919. When the party split in December 1920, and the Communist section won a majority, securing the party machine, funds, and press, Blum helped to reconstruct the Socialist Party so successfully that he is considered one of the founders of the modern French Socialist Party. Blum led the opposition to the government of Millerand and Poincaré and supported Herriot's Cartel de gauche in 1924. In the 1928 elections, the Socialist Party won 104 seats but Blum himself was defeated. A year later, however, he was elected for Narbonne, and was reelected for this department in 1932 and 1936. The 1934 Paris riots resulting from the disclosures of the Stavisky financial scandal were an early portent of the danger of fascism, and Blum began to work for the left-wing alliance that became the Front Populaire. In 1936 the Front won a large majority and Blum, its chief architect, became premier (on June 4). His government introduced the 40-hour week, nationalized the Bank of France and the war industries, and carried out a far-reaching program of social reforms. The most difficult problem was that of national defense in the face of the growing power of the Rome-Berlin axis. However, in the face of the challenge of the Spanish Civil War, Blum, confronted with the negative attitude of the British Conservative government to the Republican Forces, decided on a policy of "nonintervention" which was described by his critics as appeasement of the Axis powers. At the same time his social reforms aroused the bitterness of industrialists who openly refused to cooperate with the government. The right wing, which showed pro-German tendencies, conducted a violent campaign of personal vilification against Blum tinged with antisemitic undertones. In 1937, on June 21, Blum resigned, after parliament had refused to grant him emergency powers to deal with the country's financial problems. He served as vice premier in modified Popular Front governments and as premier again, for less than a month, in 1938, during the Nazi invasion of Austria. After the French collapse in 1940, he was indicted by the Vichy government on charges of war guilt and was brought to trial. His brilliant defense confounded the Germans as well as the "men of Vichy" and the former ordered the suspension of the trial. Blum was returned to prison and was freed from a German concentration camp by U.S. forces in May 1945. He was given an enthusiastic welcome both in France and in international labor circles. After the liberation of France, he emerged as an elder statesman and negotiated the vast U.S. credit to France. In 1946   he formed an all-Socialist "caretaker" government, whose vigorous policy left a deep impression even though it only survived for a month. Blum then retired from public life, except for a brief period as vice premier in a 1948 government. He is considered one of the great figures in the French Labor movement and an architect of the Socialist International between the two world wars. Sympathetic to Zionist aspirations, Léon Blum, together with Emile Vandervelde, Arthur Henderson, and Eduard Bernstein, was one of the founders of the "Socialist Pro-Palestine Committee" in 1928. He readily accepted Weizmann's invitation to join the enlarged Jewish Agency and addressed its first meeting in Zurich in 1929. Blum took a leading part in influencing the French government's pro-Jewish vote on the UN decision on Palestine in 1947. He was also instrumental in preventing British diplomatic pressure from stopping the flow of Jewish "illegal" immigration from Central Europe through France to Palestine. His son ROBERT LéON (1902–1975) was an engineer and industrialist. Born in Paris, he studied engineering at the École Supérieure Polytechnique. In 1926 he joined Hispano-Suiza, manufacturers of automobiles and aircraft engines. In 1968 he retired as president of the company. Robert Léon also served as president of Bugatti, another automobile manufacturing firm. He was president of the Union Syndicale des Industries Aeronautiques et Spatiales in 1967–68, president of the French Association of Aeronautics and Space Engineers from 1963 to 1972, and chairman of the French Aeronautics and Astronautics Federation in 1972–73. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Colton, Leon Blum: Humanist in Politics (1966); L.E. Dalby, Leon Blum: Evolution of a Socialist (1963); J. Joll, Three Intellectuals in Politics (1960); Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Léon Blum (1962); Leon Blum before his judges (1943); J. Moch, Rencontres avec… Léon Blum (1970). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Colton, Leon Blum, Humanist in Politics (1966); W. Logue, Léon Blum: The Formative Years, 1872–1914 (1973); J. Lacouture, Léon Blum (Eng.,1982); I. Greilsammer, Blum (Fr., 1996). (Moshe Rosetti)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Blum, Léon — Blum (blo͞om), Léon. 1872 1950. French socialist politician who served as premier (1936 1937, 1938, and 1946 1947). He was imprisoned (1940 1945) by the Vichy government during World War II. * * * born April 9, 1872, Paris, France died March 30,… …   Universalium

  • Blum, Léon — (1872 1950)    statesman, writer    Born in Paris and educated at the École Normale Supérieure and at the sorbonne, Léon Blum, after leaving the university, practiced law and also gained a reputation as a literary and drama critic. Brought into… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Blum, Léon — (1872–1950)    French statesman and three times premier of France. The son of a wealthy Jewish merchant, Blum was propelled into politics by the Dreyfus Affair of 1894 and in 1899 he joined the Socialist Party. Elected to the Chamber of Deputies… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Blum, Leon — 1872–1950    An intellectual and writer. Blum became one of the leading figures of the French socialist party (SFIO), after World War I and of the Union of the Left in the 1930s. In 1936 he became Prime Minister in the Popular Front government… …   Who’s Who in World War Two

  • Blum, Leon — (1872 1950)    French statesman. He first worked as a literary critic and author. He was premier in the Popular Front government of 1936 7, vice premier from 1937 8, and premier in 1938. In 1943 he was handed over to the Germans, who deported him …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Blum, Léon — ► (1872 1950) Político francés de familia judía. Fue uno de los fundadores del periódico L´Humanité. Fue presidente del Gobierno en 1936. Dimitió en 1937. Se opuso al armisticio con la Alemania nazi (1940). Es autor de La reforma gubernamental y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Blum — Blum, Léon …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Leon Blum — Léon Blum Léon Blum Parlementaire français …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Leon Blum — Léon Blum Grafik von Félix Vallotton Léon Blum (* 9. April 1872 in Paris; † 30. März 1950 in Jouy en Josas bei Versailles) war Jurist, Schriftsteller, französischer Politiker und mehrfach französischer Premierminis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Leon — Léon Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Léon est un nom propre qui peut désigner une personne ou un lieu : Sommaire 1 Noms de lieux 1.1  France …   Wikipédia en Français

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