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New French Premier is Son of Sephardic Jewish Family

June 21, 1954
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The new Premier of France, Pierre Mendes-France, whose Cabinet formally took office today, is the son of a Sephardic Jewish family, while his wife comes from an Egyptian Jewish family.

Although raised in a Jewish atmosphere, he has never displayed any interest in Jewish affairs. Born in Paris 47 years ago, he was educated at the Ecole des Sciences Politiques and at law school where he became interested in economic and financial subjects, on which he is now considered an expert.

At the age of 25, the earliest legally possible, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. At 30, he became Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs in the Popular Front Government of Leon Blu###. In World War II he was an Air Force lieutenant; when France fell he made his way to North Africa, There he was arrested by Vichy authorities and sentenced to six years in prison. He escaped, spent a year in the underground, then fled to London and flew bomber missions with the Free French.

Back in North Africa in 1943, he was made Commissioner for Finance in Gen. de Gaulle’s provisional government. In June, 1946, he was elected to the Second Constituent Assembly and was re-elected twice to the National Assembly on the Radical Socialist ticket.

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