Philippe Pétain Biography
(Prime Minister of France from 1940 to 1942)
Birthday: April 24, 1856 (Taurus)
Born In: Cauchy-à-la-Tour, France
Philippe Pétain was a French general who was declared a national hero in World War I but was later discredited and sentenced to death. Born to a farming family from northern France, he attended the local schools before joining the French army. After a series of World War I commands, Pétain was ordered to stop the massive German attack on the city of Verdun. He motivated his troops and reorganized the front lines as well as the transport systems, transforming a near-defeat situation into a successful defense. He earned much appreciation from the French government and military for this victory and subsequently became a national hero. After serving on a number of posts such as the Marshal of France, Minister of War and Secretary of State, he was appointed the Prime Minister of France at the start of World War II. With France under attack from Germany, Pétain entered a truce with the Germans which gave latter the control over most parts of France but left the remainder as a separate regime under Pétain, with its capital at Vichy. Later, with the Germans invading the unoccupied zone of France and the allied landings in France, Pétain was arrested by Nazis and sent to Germany. Pétain returned to France after the liberation where he was accused of treason and was put on trial. Subsequently, he was sentenced to solitary confinement for life and died at the age of 95 in prison.