Fernand de Brinon
Fernand de Brinon, Marquis de Brinon (French pronunciation: [feʁnɑ̃ də bʁinɔ̃]; 26 August 1885 – 15 April 1947) was a French lawyer and journalist who was one of the architects of French collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. He claimed to have had five private talks with Adolf Hitler between 1933 and 1937.
Born into a wealthy family in the city of Libourne in the Gironde département, Ferdinand de Brinon studied political science and law at university but chose to work as a journalist in Paris. After the First World War, he advocated a rapprochement with Germany. He became friends with Joachim von Ribbentrop.
The Brinons became leading socialites in 1930s Paris, and close friends of the political right-wing elite. A leading advocate for collaboration following France's defeat by Germany in the Second World War, in July 1940 Brinon was invited by Pierre Laval, Vice-Premier of the new Vichy regime, to act as its representative to the German High Command in occupied Paris. In September of that year he also established the Groupe Collaboration to help establish closer cultural ties between Germany and France. In 1942, Philippe Pétain, head of the Vichy regime, gave him the title of Secretary of State.
As the third ranking member of the Vichy regime and because of his enthusiastic support for the fascist cause, Brinon's importance to the Nazis was such that he was able to obtain a special pass for his Jewish-born wife that exempted her from deportation to a German concentration camp. With the march of the Allied forces towards Paris in 1944, Brinon and his wife fled to Germany. There, Brinon became in September 1944 president of the French Governmental Commission, Vichy's government-in-exile. He was eventually arrested by the advancing Allied troops. He and his wife were both held in Fresnes prison but she was eventually released.
Fernand de Brinon was tried by the French Court of Justice for war crimes, found guilty and sentenced to death on 6 March 1947. He was executed by firing squad on 15 April at the military fort in the Paris suburb of Montrouge.
In 2002, French historian Gilbert Joseph published Fernand de Brinon : L'Aristocrate de la collaboration. In 2004, Bernard Ullmann, Lisette de Brinon's son from her first marriage, broke his 60-year silence and told his family's story in his book, Lisette de Brinon, Ma Mère.