Marie Joseph Pierre François Kœnig (French pronunciation: [maʁi pjɛʁ køniɡ]; 10 October 1898 – 2 September 1970) was a French general during the Second World War, where he commanded a Free French Brigade at the Battle of Bir Hakeim in North Africa in 1942. He started a political career after the War and was posthumously elevated to the dignity of Marshal of France in 1984.
|Minister of National Defence|
19 June 1954 – 14 August 1954
|Prime Minister||Pierre Mendès France|
|Preceded by||René Pleven|
|Succeeded by||Emmanuel Temple|
23 February 1955 – 6 October 1955
|Prime Minister||Edgar Faure|
|Preceded by||Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury|
|Succeeded by||Pierre Billotte|
|Member of the National Assembly for Bas-Rhin's constituency|
5 July 1951 – 5 December 1958
|Born||10 October 1898|
Caen, Calvados, French Republic
|Died||2 September 1970 (aged 71)|
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, French Republic
|Resting place||Montmartre Cemetery|
|Political party||RPF (1951 – 1955)|
RF (1956 – 1958)
Marie Klein (m. 1931)
|Father||Henri Joseph Kœnig|
|Alma mater||Lycée Malherbe|
|Allegiance|| French Third Republic|
French Fourth Republic
|Years of service||1917 – 1951|
Maréchal de France
Honours and decorations
World War IEdit
Kœnig fought in the French Army during World War I and served with distinction. He obtained his baccalaureate and enlisted in 1917. He served in the 36th Infantry Regiment. He was designated as an aspirant in February 1918 and joined his unit at the front. Decorated with the Medaille military, he was promoted to sous-lieutenant on 3 September 1918.
Between 1918 and 1940Edit
After the war, he served with French forces in Morocco and Cameroon. He served in Silesia as assistant (French: adjoint) of captain Adrien Henry in the Alpes, in Germany, then in Morocco, at the general staff headquarters of the division of Marrakesh.
World War IIEdit
When World War II broke out, Kœnig returned to France. In 1940, he was assigned as a captain with the French troops in Norway, for which he was later awarded the Krigskorset med Sverd or Norwegian War Cross with Sword, in 1942. After the fall of France, he escaped to England from Brittany.
In London, Kœnig joined General Charles de Gaulle and was promoted to colonel. He became chief of staff in the first divisions of the Free French Forces. In 1941, he served in the campaigns in Syria and Lebanon. He was later promoted to general and took command of the First French Brigade in Egypt. His unit of 3700 men held ground against five Axis divisions (c. 37,000 men) for 16 days at the Battle of Bir Hakeim until they were ordered to evacuate on 11 June 1942. General de Gaulle said to Kœnig: "Hear and tell your troops: the whole of France is watching you, you are our pride."
Later, Kœnig served as the Free French delegate to the Allied headquarters under General Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1944, he was given command of the Free French who participated in the Invasion of Normandy. Kœnig also served as a military advisor to de Gaulle. In June 1944, he was given command of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) to unify various French Resistance groups under de Gaulle's control. Under his command, the FFI stopped range battle in the Maquis, preferring sabotage waged in support of the invasion army. Important in D-Day, the role of the FFI became decisive in the battle for Normandy and in the landing in Provence of the US Seventh Army and French Army B. On 21 August 1944, de Gaulle appointed Kœnig military governor of Paris to restore law and order. In 1945, he was sent to arrest Marshal Pétain, who had taken refuge in Germany, but who gave himself up at the frontier with Switzerland.
After the war, Kœnig was commander of the French army in the French occupation zone of Germany from 1945 to 1949. In 1949, he became inspector general in North Africa and in 1950 vice-president of the Supreme War Council.
In 1951, after his retirement from the army, Kœnig was elected as Gaullist representative to the French National Assembly and briefly served as Minister of Defense under Pierre Mendès-France (1954) and Edgar Faure (1955).
He gave his strong support to the new State of Israel as president of the Franco-Israeli Committee (Comité franco-israélien), at around the same time when he was France's Defense Minister, as shown from his informing of his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres that France was willing to sell Israel any weapons it wished to purchase, from small arms to tanks (such as the AMX-13 light tank). Kœnig had witnessed the heroism of a battalion of Palestinian Jewish mine layers during the Battle of Bir Hakeim and afterwards allowed them to fly their own Star-of-David flag, against British regulations.
|Aspirant||Sous-Lieutenant||Lieutenant||Capitaine||Chef de bataillon||Lieutenant-Colonel|
|February 1918||3 September 1918||3 September 1920||25 June 1932||1 July 1940||December 1940|
|Colonel||Général de brigade||Général de division||Général de corps d'armée[b]||Général d'armée[b]||Maréchal de France[c]|
|January 1941||July 1941||1943||28 June 1944||20 May 1946||6 June 1984|
Honours and decorationsEdit
|Grand Cross of the National Order of the Legion of Honour|
|Companion of the National Order of Liberation|
|Commander of the Order of Agricultural Merit|
Decorations and medalsEdit
|War Cross 1914–1918 (2 citations)|
|War Cross 1939–1945 (4 citations)|
|War Cross for foreign operational theatres (3 citations)|
|Resistance Medal with rosette|
|Colonial Medal with clasps "Maroc", "Sahara", "Libye", "Bir-Hakeim", "Tunisie 43-43"|
|1914–1918 Inter-Allied Victory medal|
|1914–1918 Commemorative war medal|
|1939–1945 Commemorative war medal|
|Commemorative medal for voluntary service in Free France|
|Medal of French Gratitude|
- Government of the French Republic (12 September 1918). "Décret du 12 Septembre 1918 portant promotion dans l'armée active". gallica.bnf.fr. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
- Government of the French Republic (9 October 1920). "Décret du 5 Octobre 1920 portant promotion dans l'armée active". gallica.bnf.fr. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
- Government of the French Republic (18 June 1932). "Décret du 18 Juin 1932 portant promotion dans l'armée active". gallica.bnf.fr. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
- «Sachez et dites à vos troupes que toute la France vous regarde et que vous êtes son orgueil.»
- "FRANCE: Toward Twilight". TIME.com. 7 May 1945. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- National Order of Liberation. "Pierre KOENIG". ordredelaliberation.fr. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
- Jerry Klinger (President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation). "General Marie-Pierre Koenig and the Jewish Brigade: The First Salute". The Jewish Magazine, October–November 2009
- "iTravelJerusalem – Hadar Mall". iTravelJerusalem. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- "מפות Google". מפות Google. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- "Pierre Koenig st. – Haifa". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- Government of the French Republic (6 June 1946). "Décret du 6 Juin 1946 conférant le rang et les prérogatives de général d'armée". gallica.bnf.fr. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- Government of the French Republic (6 June 1984). "Décret du 6 juin 1984 LA DIGNITE DE MARECHAL DE FRANCE EST CONFEREE A TITRE POSTHUME AU GENERAL D'ARMEE KOENIG MARIE,JOSEPH,PIERRE,FRANCOIS". legifrance.gouv.fr. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
- 16 July 1946 Monitor Polski 1947 no. 27 pos. 188