Agence de presse Meurisse - Bibliothèque nationale de France
Pierre Laval (French pronunciation: [pjɛʁ laval]; 28 June 1883 – 15 October 1945) was a French politician. During the time of the Third Republic, he served as Prime Minister of France from 27 January 1931 to 20 February 1932, and also headed another government from 7 June 1935 to 24 January 1936.
Laval began his career as a socialist, but over time drifted far to the right. Following France's surrender and armistice with Germany in 1940, he served in the Vichy Regime. He took a prominent role under Philippe Pétain, first as the vice-president of Vichy's Council of Ministers from 11 July 1940 to 13 December 1940, and later as the head of government from 18 April 1942 to 20 August 1944.
After the liberation of France in 1944, Laval was arrested by the French government under General Charles de Gaulle. In what some historians consider a flawed trial, Laval was found guilty of high treason, and after a thwarted suicide attempt, he was executed by firing squad. His manifold political activities have left a complicated and controversial legacy, and there are more than a dozen biographies of him.