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Louis Renault
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    (February 12, 1877-October 24, 1944)
    Born in Paris, France
    Auto designer and industrialist
    Founded Renault Automobile Company with his brothers Marcel and Fernand (1899)
    Became sole owner (1909)
    Died in jail, reportedly of uremia, while awaiting trial on charges of collaborating with the Germans
    Company nationalized by the French government (January 1, 1945)
    A 'Time' profile described him as 'vulgar, loud, domineering, impatient; he was a terror to associates, a friend to practically no one.'
    He became increasingly paranoid about labor unions and Communism, and became a recluse at his country estate.
    He called rival automaker Andre Citroen 'the little Jew.'
    His company manufactured more than 30,000 vehicles for the Germans during the occupation.
    He refused to let the French resistance establish cells in his factories.
    Posthumous attempts by his descendants to formally clear his name have been unsuccessful (through 2014).
    He designed several automotive innovations, including modern drum brakes and hydraulic shock absorbers.
    He received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor for his contributions during World War I, notably designing and manufacturing the Renault FT-17 tank.
    He made vehicles for the Germans largely to keep them from shipping his factories and employees off to Germany, saying 'It is better to give them the butter, or they'll take the cows.'
    Other automakers, such as Citroen and Peugeot, also made vehicles for Germany but were not taken over by the French government.
    His widow claimed that he was murdered.
    When his body was exhumed (1956), x-rays showed one of the vertebrae in his neck had been fractured.

Credit: C. Fishel

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