Marie-Pierre Kœnig (French pronunciation: [maʁi pjɛʁ køniɡ]; 10 October 1898 – 2 September 1970) was a French army officer and politician. He commanded a Free French Brigade at the Battle of Bir Hakeim in North Africa in 1942.
|Born||10 October 1898|
Caen, Calvados, France
|Died||2 September 1970 (aged 71)|
|Allegiance|| Free France|
|Years of service||1917–1951|
|Rank||General (1941), Posthumously raised to Marshal of France by Commander-In-Chief (President) François Mitterrand (1984)|
|Commands held||First Free French Brigade, French Forces of the Interior|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
World War II
|Awards||Marshal of France|
Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur
Companion of the Liberation
Croix de Guerre 1914–1918
Croix de Guerre 1939–1945
Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures
Médaille de la Résistance
Croix du combattant
Distinguished Service Order (UK)
Companion of the Order of the Bath (UK)
Grand Cross of the Order of George I (Greece)
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 (French: 36e Régiment d'Infanterie. He was designated as an aspirant in February 1918 and joined his unit at the front. Decorated with the Medaille militarie, he was promoted to lieutenant on September 3, 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.
Honours and awardsEdit
- Marshal of France, posthumously in 1984
- Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
- Order of Liberation (25 June 1942)
- Médaille militaire
- Croix de guerre 1914–1918 (2 citations)
- Croix de guerre 1939–1945 (4 citations)
- Croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures (3 citations)
- Resistance medal with rosette
- Colonial Medal with clasps "Morocco", "Sahara", "Libya", "Bir-Hakeim", "Tunisia 42–43"
- Croix du combattant
- Aeronautical Medal
- Commander of the Order of Agricultural Merit
- Escapees' Medal
- 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
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Soviet Union
- Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold
- Croix de Guerre with Palm
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown
- Knights of Malta
- Sherifian Order of Military Merit (Ordre du Mérite Militaire Chérifien)
- Grand Cordon of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite
- «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.
- Pierre-Marie Koenig (sic), Order of the Liberation website. (in French) Accessed 28 March 2016.
- 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
- 16 July 1946 Monitor Polski 1947 no. 27 pos. 188
- "iTravelJerusalem – Hadar Mall". iTravelJerusalem. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- "מפות Google". מפות Google. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- "Pierre Koenig st. – Haifa". Retrieved 29 March 2016.
- Newspaper clippings about Marie-Pierre Kœnig in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
| Minister of National Defense
19 June – 14 August 1954
| Minister of National Defense
23 February – 6 October 1955