MAYER, RENÉ (1895–1972), French politician who was prime minister of France in 1953. Born in Paris, Mayer became a lawyer and fought in the French Army in World War I. In 1919 he was made an auditor in the Conseil d'Etat and was later given a senior post as Maître des Requêtes. He lectured at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques from 1922 to 1932. He was vice president and secretary-general of the Chemins de Fer du Nord and from 1933 to 1940 was administrator of Air France, but in September 1940 was compelled by the Vichy government to give up these positions and shortly afterward he joined the Resistance. Mayer became a member of the French Committee for National Liberation in 1943 and in the following year was made minister of transport in the provisional government. He was elected to the National Assembly as a Radical Socialist in 1946 and was made minister of finance in the Pleven cabinet (1947–48). From 1949 to 1951 he was minister of justice in successive governments and after serving as minister of finance for a second term (1951–52), he became prime minister in January 1953. As prime minister, Mayer based his policy on friendship with Great Britain and a strong European defense community. His government fell the following May and Mayer was later active in the movement for European integration, becoming chairman of the Coal and Steel Authority (1955–58). Mayer played an active part in Jewish affairs and was a member of the Central Consistoire of French Jews. He was a member of the executive of the *Alliance Israélite Universelle and, after 1946, its vice president.

[Shulamith Catane]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.