Charles Huntziger

The beginning of the career

Charles Léon Clément Huntziger was born June 25, 1880 in Lesneven (Finistère). He entered the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr, from which he emerged in 1900 for the colonial infantry. During the First World War he distinguished himself on the eastern front. He became head of the operations of the General Staff of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Greece. In 1918 he participated in the elaboration of the plan of General Franchet d’Esperey offensive against German-Bulgarian troops. This offensive will lead to the victory of the Allies and the Armistice of Mudros, in September 1918, with the release of the war in Bulgaria.

In 1933 he was appointed Commander of the troops of the Levant (which included the mandates of Lebanon and Syria). Take part in the negotiations for delivery to Turkey of the French part of the Sanjak of Alexandretta, now included in the mandate of Syria. In 1938 he entered the Superior Council of War. Between 1928 and 1930 he was appointed Chief of Staff and Inspector General of the colonial forces. On 7 December 1928 he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General of the colonial troops.

Between 1930 and 1934 driving a French military mission in Brazil. On 20 March 1933 he was promoted to the rank of Major General of the colonial troops. On 17 March 1935 he was promoted to the rank of General of the Army Corps of colonial troops. On 30 June 1937 he was appointed Grand Officer of the Legion of Honeur.

The Second World War

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, assumed command of the 2nd Army, and then the 4th Army Group, with responsibility for the area of ​​the Ardennes. On 10 May 1940, when the German offensive snapped, still egliaveva the field command of the 2nd Army. Huntziger is located in the theater when the military intelligence service warned him of the impending attack.

Following the directives of the plan drawn up initially by General Erich von Manstein, the German armored forces, concentrated surprise in the difficult and seemingly impassable area of the Ardennes, launched a powerful attack in depth. After easily beating the weak resistance of the Belgian army and division of light cavalry French, German forces penetrated the edge of the woods of the Ardennes. They already reaching 13 May the banks of the Meuse, where they were deployed to defend the infantry divisions of the 9th Army (Corap) and the 2nd Army (Huntzinger) French. Caught unprepared by the power and speed of the German attack, backed by the full support of the Luftwaffe, who attained complete air superiority on the battlefield, the French troops failed to defend the line of the River Meuse and gave important bridgeheads. The seven-Panzer Division, of which five are grouped in Panzergruppe Kleist, May 15 passed in the Meuse and forces completely overran the enemy defenses. The 9th Army was destroyed, while the 2nd Army had to fall back to the south. A Sedan General Heinz Guderian, Monthermé General Georg-Hans Reinhardt and Dinant General Hermann Hoth obtained the decisive successes, being able to then head west to reach the shores of the English Channel, being able to isolate a large concentration of Anglo-French forces advanced recklessly in Belgian territory. The reaction of the maneuver German Huntziger soon appeared inadequate, while its lack of initiative greatly facilitated the German offensive. Huntzinger then you will defend the allegations with great skill, shifting the responsibility for the defeat on the general André Corap.

The Armistice of Compiègne

After the defeat of the French army Huntziger was commissioned by the new president of the Council of Ministers, General Philippe Petain, to conduct negotiations for an armistice with Germany. The armistice had been asked the Germans from the French Foreign Minister Paul Baudouin, through the Spanish ambassador in Paris.

The French delegation was responsible for conducting the negotiations was made, as well as Huntziger from General Aviation Jean Bergeret, by Vice-Admiral Le Luc and the Ambassador Leon nuts. The French delegates were taken in the forest of Compiègne, where they waited for the same railway wagon, the German sappers had pulled off with the explosive from the museum where he was, where the armistice was signed in November 1918. Once in the car they found the French, the German delegation in full force, composed of Adolf Hitler, von Raeder, Hermann Goering, von Brauchitsch, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Rudolf Hess. The atmosphere was cold, the Germans derogatory. Standing Keitel read a brief statement at 15:42 then all the leaders Germans came out of the car except Keitel. The twenty-four clauses that made up the text of the armistice were harsh. At about 22.30 the General Huntzinger, with the Germans who had readily activated a phone line, called Bordeaux, the temporary seat of the French government. On the other end of the phone risponse General Maxime Weygand, who, he learned the conditions, it would take more time but Huntzinger said that there were no margins of Understanding. Weygand asked him where he was, and Huntzinger dry responds: “in the wagon.” Weygand comprense immediately that there is no more room for negotiation. The French ministers met and discussed emergency until 3.00am the night to resume at 8.00 in the morning and continue throughout the afternoon until Huntzinger not called back. Keitel said he was willing to wait another hour then suspend negotiations. In Bordeaux realize that there is nothing to do and authorize the Head of Delegation to sign them. The armistice between France and Germany is signed by Keitel and Huntzinger at 18.50 on June 20, 1940.

The last assignments

The June 24, 1940 Hutzinger guide in Rome, the French delegation in charge to sign an armistice with Italy. The signing takes place at Villa Madama, in the presence of the Chief of the General Staff, Marshal Pietro Badoglio. The terms of the armistice Italian are less harsh, the atmosphere and almost friendly. Subsequently Hutzinger is seconded to the Commission for the implementation of the armistice terms in Wiesbaden. He was then appointed Secretary of State for War of the Vichy government. On October 3, 1940, with Philippe Pétain, Pierre Laval, Raphaël Alibert, Marcel Peyrouton, Paul Baudouin, Yves Bouthillier and François Darlan signed the anti-Semitic laws that excluded Jews from the French armed forces. Following this, nine general of Jewish origin are removed from the army.

In September 1941 also became Commander in Chief of the French land forces.

He died in a plane crash returning from an inspection in North Africa November 12, 1941. The Potez 662 that transported it impacts the hill of the Cevennes in Vigan, near the Col du Minier (Gard). The funeral took place November 15, 1941 in the Cathedral of Vichy.


Broche, François. L’Armée française sous occupation, tome 1, the dispersion. Presses de la Cité, Paris, 2002, ISBN 2-258-05471-0

Gammault. Roger. Histoire de la volture No. 2419D-restaurant. Amis de Armistice “Armistice 1918”

Porthault, Pierre. The Army of Sacrifice 1939-1940, Ed Guy Victor, 1965

Shirer, William L. The Collapse of the Third Republic. Simon and Shuster, 1969

Filmdokument (Ausschnitt) in: Hitler – eine Karriere. Regie Joachim C. Fest, Christian Herrendoerfer. Dokumentarfilm, 2004 D. Länge 155 Min

Deaths per plane crash

Personality of the Vichy Regime

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