Mandel died 69 years ago today, on July 7, in 1944 at the hands of the Milice, a paramilitary force which collaborated with the Nazis.
Born in 1885, into a prosperous family (his given name was Louis-Georges Rothschild, though he was no relation to the banking family), Mandel’s political career began at age 21 as a member of the personal staff of French Premier Georges Clemenceau. He went on to serve in the National Assembly from 1919 to 1924, and then again from 1928 to 1940.
In 1940, he was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior by then French Premier Paul Reynaud, with whom he shared the conviction that no armistice should be made with the German invaders, and that the battle should continue, even if only from France’s colonies in Africa.
After the resignation of Reynaud and the establishment of the Petain/Vichy government, Mandel sailed to Morocco, where he was arrested and sent back to France and imprisoned.
He was handed over to the Germans, and put in concentration camps in Oranienburg and Buchenwald.
Mandel was returned to Paris on July 4, 1944, as a hostage. While being transferred from one prison to another, he was captured by the Milice.
Three days later, the Milice took Mandel to the Forest of Fontainebleau, where they executed him. He was buried at Passy Cemetery.
As he was being handed over to his countrymen by the German SS, he is said to have stated: “To die is nothing. What is sad is to die without seeing the liberation of the country and the restoration of the Republic.”