Andre Francois Poncet
- Category : 1887-births
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Split - Small (1,7,10,21,44,46)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Confrontation 1
French politician and diplomat whose post as ambassador to Germany allowed him to witness first-hand the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and the Nazi regime's preparations for World War II.
One of François-Poncet's early written works included observations made during several journeys to the German Empirein the years prior to World War I. During the war, he served as an infantry lieutenant.
Between 1917 and 1919, he was assigned to the press office of the French embassy in Bern, Switzerland and later served with the International Economic Mission in the United States and in other diplomatic roles under a series of French leaders.
He served as a delegate to the League of Nations, and, in August 1931, was named undersecretary of state and ambassador to Weimar Germany. From his post in Berlin, François-Poncet witnessed the rise of Hitler, and later observed the signs of Germany's plans for World War II. The insightful François-Poncet was described by American journalist William Shirer in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as "the best informed ambassador in Berlin", but the French government generally did not heed the ambassador's many warnings about Hitler's intentions. François-Poncet was inadvertently involved in the purge of the Night of the Long Knives when, in Hitler's justification for the killings, he referred to a dinner François-Poncet had attended with Ernst Röhm and Kurt von Schleicher as evidence that the men had been conspiring with the French to overthrow the German government. As this evidence was manufactured, François-Poncet himself was never named nor charged with anything.
Shortly after the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938, François-Poncet left his post as French ambassador to Germany after a farewell visit to Hitler at the Eagle's Nest on 18 October 1938. He was then reassigned to Rome as ambassador to Fascist Italy. He served in that position until 1940.
Arrested by the Gestapo during the wartime German occupation of France, François-Poncet was imprisoned for three years.
In 1949, he was named French high commissioner to West Germany, a position which was later elevated to ambassador. François-Poncet served in this capacity until 1955. He was later vice president and president of the French Red Cross. In 1952, he was elected to the Académie française. Occasionally contributing to the French newspaper Le Figaro, François-Poncet wrote numerous books, several based on his experience as French ambassador to Germany in the 1930s and reflecting his lifelong interest in Germany. André François-Poncet was the father of Jean François-Poncet, also a French politician and diplomat. The son served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
He died 8 January 1978.