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Henri Giraud
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Military Personnel
    (January 18, 1879-March 11, 1949)
    Born in Paris, France
    Commanded France's 7th Army (May 10-19, 1940)
    Co-President with Charles De Gaulle of the French Committee of National Liberation and Free French Forces (1943-44)
    When General Dwight David Eisenhower asked him to assume command of the French forces in North Africa and order them to join the Allies after the Americans landed, he initially refused unless he was named commander of the whole operation.
    He eventually agreed to Eisenhower's plan, but the French soldiers in North Africa ignored his orders to cooperate with the Allies.
    As a result, the Allies had to conduct hurried negotiations with the Vichy commander, Admiral Francois Darlan, who agreed to join the Free French.
    He finally became commander of the Free French in North Africa when Darlan was assassinated a month later (December 24, 1942).
    As commander in North Africa, he tried to maintain Vichy's discriminatory laws against Jews.
    He ticked off the Allies by sending two Free French destroyers to support a French Resistance uprising on Corsica without informing any of the other Allied leaders (September, 1943).
    He also ticked off De Gaulle by providing arms to a Communist resistance group, the Front National.
    He eventually resigned after repeated clashes with De Gaulle.
    During World War I, he was seriously wounded while leading a bayonet charge, left for dead and captured by the Germans (August 21, 1914).
    A month later, he escaped from a German hospital and, with the aid of Edith Cavell's network, made his way to neutral Holland and from there back to France.
    He won the Legion of Honor for his actions in the Rif War in Morocco (1933).
    During World War II, he was captured and imprisoned in Konigsten Castle, used to hold high-ranking POWs.
    He spent two years planning an escape, during which time he became fluent in German and memorized a map of the surrounding countryside.
    He escaped from the castle using a 150-foot rope made from twine, copper wire and torn-up bedsheets (April 17, 1942), and managed to make his way to Switzerland.
    He then entered Vichy France and tried to persuade Marshall Petain that Germany would lose the war and France must resist the German occupation.
    The Gestapo arrested 17 members of his extended family in an unsuccessful attempt to keep Giraud from cooperating with the Allies.
    He survived an assassination attempt ordered by Heinrich Himmler (August 28, 1944).

Credit: C. Fishel


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