Stavisky Affair

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Stavisky Affair

Stavisky Affair (stävēskē´), financial and political scandal that shook France in 1934. Serge Alexandre Stavisky, a swindler associated with the municipal pawnshop of Bayonne, sold huge quantities of worthless bonds. Despite a shady past he had connections with many persons in responsible positions. Faced with exposure in Dec., 1933, he fled but was discovered by the police at Chamonix (Jan., 1934); he either committed suicide or was murdered by the police. Extremists, particularly of the right, accused the Radical Socialist government of Camille Chautemps of corrupt deals with Stavisky and forced its resignation. The rightists further alleged that Stavisky had been murdered to protect influential persons connected with him. Édouard Daladier, the new premier, used force to repress bloody riots staged (Feb. 6–7, 1934) in Paris by extremists (chiefly royalists), but he too had to resign. He was replaced by Gaston Doumergue and a national unity cabinet. After a long trial (1935–36) of 20 defendants, none of them politically important, 11 of the accused, including Stavisky's widow, were acquitted. Some of the politicians so wildly accused of corruption—notably Chautemps—were later cleared. The affair had the unfortunate effect of discrediting not only the Radical Socialist party but also parliamentary democracy in general.

See A. Werth, France in Ferment (1935, repr. 1968).

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