What Might Have Altered the Start of World War II

On 9 October 1934, French Foreign Minister (Jean) Louis Barthou (1862–1934) was assasinated in Marseille France, along with visiting King Alexander I of Yugoslavia. The assassin Velicko Kerin was a Bulgarian revolutionary nationalist, who shot point blank at King Alexander I from the running board of the king's carriage while escorted by Foreign Minister Louis Barthou. (Ironically, ballistics evidence disclosed 40 years later revealed that the fatal shot that killed Barthou was actually from return fire by French police in response to Kerin's initial shots!)

Photo 1: French foreign minister and former prime minister (Jean) Louis Barthou, the "grand old statesman of European diplomacy" (click photo for more information). Photo 2: (Jean) Louis Barthou with King Alexander I, assassinated together in Marseille on 9 October 1934 (click photo for more information).

Louis Barthou served as the 59th Prime Minister of France in 1913 and in a variety of other leadership roles. He was an adept moderate right‐wing member of the Chamber of Deputies since 1889 and held a large number of ministerial appointments before and after World War I. Hostile to Germany and suspicious of former Prime Minister Aristide Briand's policies, Barthou had the opportunity to realize some of his demands for a tougher stance towards Germany as president of the Reparations Committee in 1922–1926. As a result of this vigilant stance, he led French hostility towards the aggressive Nazi regime in Germany in 1933 and 1934. He prepared an anti‐Fascist alliance with the Soviet Union, which was concluded by Laval in 1935 after his death.

Barthou's assassination deprived France of its last major politician ready to stand up to Adolph Hitler, and it eased the way for politicians to follow British policies of appeasement toward Germany. If he hadn't been murdered, things may have been different in the way that World War II broke out.

Dramatic footage of the 1934 assassination of King Alexander I and (Jean) Louis Barthou (click to play, and again to enlarge).

The reason we include this story here is that other things would have been different too had Barthou not been shot, in particular for Louis J. Dutrey (1916–1998) in New Orleans. Here's an account written in 2019 by his daughter Danielle (née Dutrey) Newlin:

Jean Louis Barthou was born on 25 Aug 1862 in Oloron-Ste-Marie, France. He died on 09 Oct 1934 in Marseille, France (assassinated with King Alexander I of Yugoslavia). He was the 59th Prime Minister of France. He was a cousin to my grandmother, Catherine LaLanne Candegave of Bedous, France.

“Louis” was in the process of arranging for my father, Louis J. Dutrey, to attend the Sorbonne in France. Daddy was 18 when he [Barthou] died and, therefore, did not get to attend.

Louis Dutrey apparently recovered from this setback and went on to become a successful lawyer in New Orleans.

Although Louis's children knew they were related to Barthou, they did not know the actual connection. Jeff Vitter, who knew the Dutrey family growing up, was able to find how Louis Dutrey's mother Catherine (née Lalanne Candegave) Dutrey (1892–1970) and her sister Marie (née Lalanne Candegave) Artigues (1881–1944) (who married Jeff Vitter's 1st cousin 2x removed Louis Jean Artigues (1884–1925)) were related to Louis Barthou, which is depicted below:

Catherine & Marie Lalanne Candegave
Marie Anne Bergèz (mother)
Urbain Bergèz (father)
Alexandre Bergès (father)
Jean Pierre Bergès & Engrâce Garbaste (parents)
Catherine Bergès (daughter)
Isidore Barthou (son)
Jean Louis Barthou (son)
      et voilà!

All these family members were born in southwest France, very close to where Jeff Vitter's maternal ancestors and his dad's maternal ancestors came from. In fact, the Vitters and the Dutreys lived on the same block, across the street, or nearby for a couple generations in New Orleans.

And there's a second Artigues-Dutrey connection in the family tree: As already noted above, Louis Jean Artigues was married to Louis Dutrey's maternal aunt Marie Lalanne Candegave. In addition, Louis Artigues' brother Jean Jacques "John" Artigues (1871–1944) married Louis Dutrey's paternal aunt Euphrasie Marie Dutrey (1875–1923). So Louis Dutrey had an Artigues/Vitter uncle on both sides of his family, and moreover the two uncles were brothers!

More Vitter Histories