Barthou, Louis(lwē bärto͞o`), 1862–1934, French cabinet minister and man of letters. He held portfolios in numerous cabinets after 1894 and was briefly premier in July–Aug., 1913. His government was responsible for the law that increased military service from two to three years. In 1934 he became foreign minister in the cabinet of Gaston Doumergue. Barthou sought to strengthen the French position in Eastern Europe. He was welcoming King Alexander of Yugoslavia at Marseilles when a Croatian nationalist assassinated (Oct., 1934) both the king and Barthou. A man of culture and learning, Barthou was the author of several biographies, notably one of Victor Hugo (tr. 1919).
See A. Roberts, The Turning Point (1970).
Born Aug. 25, 1862, in Oloron-Sainte-Marie; died Oct. 9, 1934. French state figure and lawyer.
Barthou was a parliamentary deputy from 1889. He belonged to right-wing bourgeois parties: at first the Progres-sivist Party and from 1902 the Democratic Alliance. From 1894 he held ministerial posts on a number of occasions. He was prime minister from March to December 1913 and implemented a law increasing the term of military service to three years. He favored the strengthening of the entente. He led the French delegation to the Genoa Conference of 1922. He was chairman of the Reparations Commission from 1922 to 1926 during which time he insisted on Germany’s fulfillment of the resolutions of the Versailles Treaty of 1919. He was minister of justice from 1922 to 1924 and from 1926 to 1929.
After the fascist dictatorship was established in Germany (1933) and the military threat increased, Barthou, in the interests of strengthening France’s security, became an active advocate of Franco-Soviet cooperation. As minister of foreign affairs (February-October 1934), he presented a plan for an “Eastern Pact.” He was one of the initiators of the invitation to the USSR to join the League of Nations. He visited the USSR in 1934. His activity contributed to the subsequent conclusion of the Soviet-French mutual aid treaty (1935). On Oct. 9, 1934, Barthou and the Yugoslav king Alexander I were killed in Marseille by a Croatian terrorist, an agent of the German and Italian secret services. Barthou was a member of the Académie Francaise (1918). He was the author of works on D. Diderot, A. Lamartine, H. Mirabeau, C. Baudelaire, V. Hugo, and others.
REFERENCESDiurozel’,Zh. B. “Lui Bartu i franko-sovetskoe sblizhenie v 1934.” In the collection Frantsuzskii ezhegodnik, 1961. Moscow, 1962.
Aubert, O. L. Barthou. Paris, 1935.