Léon Jouhaux

Léon Jouhaux

Birth
Pantin, Departement de Seine-Saint-Denis, Île-de-France, France
Death 28 Apr 1954 (aged 74)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Plot Division 88
Memorial ID 7665 · View Source
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Nobel Peace Prize Recipient. He is remembered for being the French trade union leader who was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1951 for his achievements in representing the working class. He was a French Socialist and one of the founders of the International Labor Organization. He entered his life-long career as a labor leader, and with his intelligence, industriousness, organizing ability, impressive personality, and gift of a public speaker, he rose rapidly to the positions of responsibility. He played a critical part in international political affairs by being the member of the French delegation to the League of Nations from 1925 to 1928. He drafted proposals on various aspect of the questions of arms control. He served in the United Nations, where he sought to obtain, among other things, the universal recognition of the human right to free association. In 1949, he helped to establish the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. In 1949 he became the president of the European Movement, who Council of Europe was established as the first step toward federated Europe. One of his most important position was the president of the French National Economic Council, which he was elected in 1947, The council's purpose was to integrate the economic forces within the structure of France, which he had long supported. In 1954, he was informed that he had been elected to the presidency of the Council for the seventh consecutive time. After his father lost his job in a factory strike, he began working in a match factory at the age of sixteen and leaving high school without finishing. He served in the French military in Algeria, but called home to become his family's breadwinner when his father went blind as a result of years of working with volatile white phosphorus. He returned to the match factory but participated in a strike to protest against the used of the phosphorus. At this point, he was fired and blacklisted, which made him unable to find steady employment. A succession of jobs including a sugar refinery, fertilizer plant, and working the docks followed while he attended classes at Sorbonne and the Popular University at Aubervilliers. Eventually, he returned to the match factory and in 1906 was national secretary of the matchworkers' union. Although radical in the beginning, as the decades passed, he became more moderate in his thinking. He had on-the-job-training. Prior to World War I, he traveled throughout Europe, especially to Germany, trying to keep peace among the countries by uniting the labor unions, but supported France in war effort once the war began. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, he had dissociated himself from a fraction of the Communist party in France, which had helped him against fascism in 1936.. When France fell to Nazi powers, he joined the Resistance, but was arrested in December of 1941, and held in house custody until April of 1943, when he was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. He was liberated in May of 1945 in good health considering that he was a 66 year old man who had been in a Nazi prison for twenty-five months. A quote from Jouhaux, “I would not go so far as to say that the French trade unions attached greater importance to the struggle for peace than the others did, but they certainly seem to take it more to heart.”

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 11 Dec 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial 7665
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Léon Jouhaux (1 Jul 1879–28 Apr 1954), Find a Grave Memorial no. 7665, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .