Maxime Weygand

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Maxime Weygand (21 January 1867 - 28 January 1965; French pronunciation: [vɛɡɑ̃]) was a French military commander in World War I and World War II.

Weygand initially fought against the Germans during invasion of France in 1940, but then surrendered to and collaborated with the Germans as part of the Vichy France regime.


Early years

Weygand was born in Brussels of unknown parents. He was long suspected of being the illegitimate son of either Empress Carlota of Mexico (by General Alfred van der Smissen); or of her brother Leopold II, King of the Belgians, and Leopold's Polish mistress. Van der Smissen always seemed a likely candidate for Weygand's father because of the striking resemblance between the two men. In 2003, the French journalist Dominique Paoli claimed to have found evidence that Weygand's father was indeed van der Smissen, but the mother was Mélanie Zuchy-Metternich, lady-in-waiting to Carlota (and daughter of Prince Metternich, Austrian Chancellor). Paoli further claimed that Weygand had been born in mid-1865, not January 1867 as is generally claimed.[1]

Regardless, throughout his life Weygand maintained he did not know his true parentage. While an infant he was sent to Marseille to be raised by a widow named Virginie Saget, whom he originally took to be his mother.[2] At age 6 he was transferred to the household of David Cohen de Léon, a financier of Sephardic origins who was a friend of Leopold II. Upon reaching adulthood, Weygand was legally acknowledged as a son by Francois-Joseph Weygand, an accountant in the employ of M. Cohen de Léon, thereby granting him French citizenship.

In his memoirs he says little about his youth, devoting to it only 4 pages out of 651. He mentions the gouvernante and the aumônier of his college, who instilled in him a strong Roman Catholic faith. His memoirs essentially begin with his entry into the preparatory class of Saint-Cyr Military School in Paris, as if he had wished to disregard his connection with Mme. Saget and M. Cohen de Leon.

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