Who's Who - Louis Malvy

Louis Malvy Louis Malvy (1875-1949) experienced a turbulent political career which included spells in government, disgraced exile, and a later return to cabinet government.

A member of the Radical Party, Malvy was first elected to the National Assembly in 1906.  Having entered government and held a number of minor ministerial positions, Malvy's first notable cabinet post was as Minister of the Interior in Prime Minister Rene Viviani's pre-war government (having served as commerce minister the previous year).

Remaining on when war broke out, Malvy - a close colleague (and some charged a puppet) of the radical Joseph Caillaux - was prominent in resisting calls for dissenters to be rounded up in 1914 (Carnet B).

Despite the whiff of suspicion which remained over Malvy's head he remained in government while numerous Prime Ministers came and went: Viviani, Briand and Ribot.  This was almost entirely due to the solid support he received from the parliamentary radicals and socialists; the government was inevitably obliged to recognise their influence in holding steady the wartime coalition.

Malvy played a part in subsidising dissenting - even pacifist - newspapers during the war, which merely served to increase the suspicion surrounding his activities.  He eventually met his nemesis in Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, who adopted a ruthless approach to those he believed to be guilty of 'defeatism' (i.e. aiding the enemy by one form or another).

Scandal engulfed Malvy in 1917 when one of the newspapers he subsidised, Bonnet Rouge, had been discovered to be in receipt of German funds; and when French military papers were discovered in its offices arrests were made, including the newspaper's administrator and director.

During a secret session of the Senate in July 1917 Clemenceau openly accused Malvy of betraying French interests; he was forced to resign on 31 August 1917.  This was by no means the end of the affair.  In November he was arrested and charged with treason.

Tried by a special Senate commission he was acquitted in August 1918 of the higher charge, but was nevertheless found guilty of culpable negligence in the performance of his ministerial duties: he was therefore exiled from France for a period of five years.

Remarkably Malvy's political career wasn't finished.  Following his return to France from Spain he was again elected to the Chamber of Deputies and became, briefly, Minister of the Interior in 1926.

Louis Malvy died on 9 June 1949.

"Beachy Bill" was the name given to one of the Turkish guns which regularly shelled Anzac Cove.

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