This week in the War, 15–21 January 1945: Renault factories are nationalized

Louis Renault, Washington, 1940 [Public domain]

This week in the war, on 16 January 1945, the newly formed French government under Charles de Gaulle nationalized the factories belonging to the French car manufacturer, Louis Renault.

The nationalization was in retaliation to Renault’s perceived collaboration with the German forces of occupation—although the case was never proven. (Plus he had visited Washington in 1940 to meet with President Roosevelt and hold discussions around tank production in the Renault factories.)

Louis Renault died under unclear circumstances while he was in Fresnes prison, waiting for his trial.

French aviatrix Helene Boucher at the wheel of a Renault Vivasport, 1934 [Public domain]

He had the reputation of being somewhat of a tyrant and was ill-regarded by the working classes in France.

Under the new legislative act, the firm became a government corporation—Régie nationale des usines Renault. In 1947, the 4 CV, produced in Renault’s Billancourt plant, became a huge success.


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