Marie Pierre Joseph François Koenig born October 10, 1898, Caen, France, died September 2, 1970, Neuilly-sur-Seine
French army officer who became one of the leading commanders of General Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Forces in World War II.
After active duty during World War I and later in North Africa, Koenig campaigned in Norway and France during the early part of World War II. Evacuated to England in June 1940, he joined de Gaulle’s movement and rose steadily in the Free French Forces, distinguishing himself in the conquest of Gabon in 1940 and in the defense of Bir Hakeim?, Libya, against terrific attacks by German General Erwin Rommel’s panzer (armoured) divisions in 1942. He then served as assistant army chief of staff and as Free French delegate to General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s supreme Allied headquarters in England. In June 1944 he became head of the French Forces of the Interior, the Resistance army in German-occupied France, and in August he was named military governor of liberated Paris. He had become commander of the French army in Germany by the end of the war.
Koenig became inspector general in North Africa in 1949 and then vice president of the Supreme War Council in 1950. He retired soon after, but he was later elected to the National Assembly as a Gaullist deputy and served two short terms as defense minister (1954 and 1955). In 1984 the French government posthumously named him marshal of France.