Blog: Dave LeggettLouis Renault

Dave Leggett | 13 October 2004

Apparently, the sixtieth anniversary of the death of industrial pioneer Louis Renault is approaching (he died on October 24th 1944). His death is not a pretty story and is another sorry chapter in the French WWII collaboration with the Nazis (or was it really Gallic pragmatism?) saga. Louis Renault had apparently said, 'Give them butter or they'll take the cows'. Anyway, he churned out vehicles for the Germans and was accused of being a Nazi collaborator when France was finally liberated. His company was seized by the French State (thus beginning its long life as a nationalised institution) and De Gaulle described it as an example of 'guilty enrichment obtained by those who worked for the enemy'. Louis Renault himself was imprisoned and his death is said to have followed a heavy beating in which his neck was broken.

Obviously, that particular time was a very difficult one for France and it ill-behoves anyone sitting in comfort sixty years later to pass moral judgement on the things that allegedly went on during that turbulent period. But, I wonder, could it be argued that the great Renault company effectively constitutes the proceeds of theft following a murder? Something to reflect on the next time you see that distinctive Renault diamond logo. I'd guess that Renault isn't preparing a whole lot of special anniversary events.


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