Henri-Philippe Omer Pétain
French politician and general
Pétain lived a very long and active life through an important part of history. He did what he believed was best for his country (France) and in the interest of the lives of le peuple de France, although in the end it did not turn out as he had planned. He took upon himself the decision to surrender to the Nazis before the French people were willing to give up. Honor was betrayed in the minds of many. However, hundreds of thousands of lives were saved by some of the decisions Pétain made in his years of authority. Good intentions are never perfect from every angle.
Here's a timeline:
1856 Pétain is born in Cauch-a-la-Tour
1876 joins the French Army and goes to school
1878 Pétain graduates from the French Military Academy at St. Cyr
1916 commanded French forces at the Battle of Verdun, where his forces halted the German advance
1917 appointed commander of all French forces
1918 appointed Marshal of France
1926 brought the joint French and Spanish campaign against Abd el-Krim to a successful conclusion
1934 named War Minister for a short time in the cabinet of Gaston Doumergue
1939 became the ambassador to Spain after France had recognized the new regime under Francisco Franco, who had served under Pétain in Morocco
May 1940 When France was about to collapse during WWII, he was called back to his country by Premier Paul Reynaud in hopes that a former war hero would help the mentality of France.
June 1940 succeeded Reynaud as premier on the 16th. Pétain said France should sue for an armistice, and it went into effect on June 25.
July 1940 On July 10, parliament suspended the constitution of the Third Republic, and Pétain took office as the leader at Vichy unoccupied France. The Vichy government was fascistic and authoritarian. Pétain only wanted to save French lives by cooperating with the germans, but it didn't go over well with the French people.
1945 tried for treason and sentenced to death. This was later changed to life in prison by de Gaulle.
1951 Pétain dies on the island of Yeu