RIP Jacques Chirac — Former President Of France Dead At 86

Chirac is remembered for his opposition to the Iraq War.

How Did Jacques Chirac Die? New Details On Death Of Former President Of France At 86 Getty

Former President of France Jacques Chirac died this week. He was 86 years old and is survived by his wife and one of his daughters. His other daughter preceded him in death in 2016. Chirac is probably best remembered for his opposition to the War in Iraq after 9/11 and for being the first French leader to acknowledge that France had had a role in deporting Jews during World War II. 

World leaders have been sending their condolences on the death of the man who spent a lifetime in public service and the nation of France will observe a day of mourning next week.


How did Jacques Chirac die? Read on to learn more. 

1. Chirac's early life

Jacques René Chirac was born in the Latin Quarter of Paris on November 29, 1932, a few years after his father, Abel, then a minor bank official, and his mother, Marie Louise Valette, had moved to Paris from a village in central France, the New York Times writes. As a young man, he considered becoming a merchant marine before attending the National School of Political Science and doing a summer course at Harvard in the U.S. He returned to France where he married his longtime girlfriend, Bernadette Chodron de Courcel. They went on to have two daughters together. Later, Chirac attended the National School of Administration before joining the army and fighting in the Algerian War for Independence. Upon return to France, he began working in government where he rose to be an assistant to Prime Minister Pompidou, who affectionately called Chirac “my bulldozer.”


2. Long political career

By the 1970s, Chirac was elected to Parliament and served as Minister for Parliamentary Relations, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Minister of the Interior at various times, eventually being appointed Prime Minister two different times. He went on to be Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995. In 1995, he ran for and won the Presidency of France and held the office until he retired in 2007.

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3. Opposition to the Iraq war

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when the U.S. was hellbent on starting a war in Iraq, Chirac opposed the use of force in that country. In 2003, after a speech to the UN in which then-US President George W. Bush defended the U.S.'s unilateral approach to attacking Iraq, Chirac responded with a speech of his own. "No one can act alone in the name of all and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules. The war, launched without the authorisation of the Security Council, shook the multilateral system," the Irish Times reported at the time. In 2007, shortly after he decided not to run for re-election Chirac said of the Iraq War, “As France had foreseen and feared, the war in Iraq has sparked upheavals that have yet to show their full effects,” Mr. Chirac said in a New Year’s address. “This adventure has worsened the divisions among communities and threatened the very integrity of Iraq. It has undermined the stability of the entire region, where every country now fears for its security and its independence. It has offered terrorism a new field for expansion.”



A post shared by Ouest-France (@ouestfrance) on Sep 26, 2019 at 7:07am PDT

Chirac died at the age of 86 this week.


4. Admitting a role in the Holocaust.

As a country that was occupied by Germany and opposed the Nazi horrors, France for many years denied any role in the Holocaust. The rationale was that the French Republic had been dismantled during the German occupation and that the Republic had been re-established when the war was over. Therefore, it was not the responsibility of the government of France to acknowledge or atone for any role in the Holocaust. As one of the last French leaders to remember World War II, Chirac took the drastic — and necessary steps — of admitting that France had played a role in the deportation of 75,000 Jews from the country. “Yes, the criminal folly of the occupiers was seconded by the French, by the French state,” he said on July 16, 1995, the New York Times reports. “France, the land of the Enlightenment and human rights...delivered those it protects to their executioners.”

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5. Official day of mourning

The BBC announced that Chirac died on September 26. His cause of death was not reported. The Washington Post reports that The Eiffel Tower was dark in the former head of state’s honor Thursday night. A national day of mourning will be observed Monday. Scores of people lined up to enter the Elysee presidential palace so they could sign condolence books. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said condolences books would be available in the city's official buildings for mourners to sign. 



A post shared by Eric IMIOLA (@eric_imiola) on Sep 27, 2019 at 11:01am PDT

A memorial to the late president in Paris.


6. Statement from Emmanuel Macron

President Macron offered a statement of mourning to the nation yesterday, saying, “We are remembering tonight with emotion and affection his freedom, his personality, the talent he had to reconcile simplicity and grandeur, proximity and dignity, love of the motherland and openness to the universal.” Macron also remarked that Chirac was a statesman we loved as much as he loved us.” 

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.