Lefaucheux, Marie-Helene (1904–1964)

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Lefaucheux, Marie-Helene (1904–1964)

French feminist and representative to the United Nations. Born Marie-Helene Postel-Vinay in Paris, France, on February 2, 1904; died in a plane crash in the United States, on February 25, 1964; daughter of Marcel Postel-Vinay and Madeleine (Delombre) Postel-Vinay; attended elementary schools in Paris; graduated from the École des Sciences Politiques; studied piano at the École du Louvre; married Pierre-Andre Lefaucheux (a lawyer, civil engineer, and president and general director of the Renault Automobile Works), in 1925.

A French housewife and "pianist of distinction," Marie-Helene Lefaucheux was thrust into public life in the 1940s, during the German occupation of France. With her husband Pierre-Andre Lefaucheux, a lawyer and civil servant, she became active in the Resistance, serving as vice president of the Paris Committee of Liberation and conducting welfare work among prisoners and deportees. When her husband was arrested and deported to Germany by train, Lefaucheux followed on her bicycle to ascertain its destination. She subsequently orchestrated her husband's escape from Weimar prison camp, for which she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Rosette de la Resistance. (Pierre-Andre later became president and general director of the Renault Automobile Works.)

Following France's liberation, Lefaucheux was elected to the Consultative Assembly, the first interim parliament of the provisional French government; she was representing the Organisation Civile et Militaire. In the November 1945 election, she was returned to the Constituent Assembly as a deputy. She was also elected to the Municipal Council of Paris, where she served as vice president. In 1946, she was elected to the Council of the Fourth French Republic under the terms of the new constitution, and she later represented metropolitan France in the Assembly of the French Union, serving as vice president from 1959 to 1960.

Lefaucheux was the only female member of the French delegation to attend the First General Assembly of the United Nations in 1946, and represented France on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She was also a founder of the Association des Femmes de l'Union Français,

an organization concerned with the welfare of Africans and Algerians. "The women of France have their rights," she said. "It is for us to see that other women in other parts of the world are helped and encouraged." From 1954 to 1964, Lefaucheux served as president of the National Council of Women and was elected president of the International Council of Women in 1957. She retired in 1964 and was killed in a plane crash the following year.


Rothe, Anna, ed. Current Biography. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1947.

Uglow, Jennifer. The Macmillan Dictionary of Women's Biography. 2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1989.

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Lefaucheux, Marie-Helene (1904–1964)

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