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Hôtel de Rothschild (1838-1950)

1838-1950, Hôtel de Rothschild

James-Mayer de Rothschild, by Moritz-Daniel Oppenheim


In 1838, Baron James-Mayer de Rothschild bought the mansion from Talleyrand’s niece, the Duchesse de Dino, who had just inherited it. The prominent Rothschild banking empire furnished credit to royals and governments during times of war and crisis across Europe. As head of the French branch of the firm, James-Mayer and his descendants entertained in the highest fashion in this and other mansions they owned in France. In 1857, James-Mayer gave 2 rue Saint Florentin to his son, Alphonse-James de Rothschild. In 1906, Edouard-Alphonse de Rothschild, Alphonse-James’ son, inherited it and lived here until the German army occupying France forced him to leave Paris. Thus, the Hôtel de Talleyrand remained the property of the Rothschild family for over a hundred years and three generations. During this long period of time, major construction and decoration works were undertaken, particularly with the extension of the central part of the mansion, between 1868 and 1871, under the supervision of architect Léon Ohnet (1813-1874).

During World War II, the mansion was first requisitioned by the Naval Ministry of the Vichy Government. Then, during the Nazi Occupation, it housed the headquarters of the German Naval Forces (“Kriegsmarine”). A footbridge was constructed above Rue Saint-Florentin to facilitate crossings between the mansion and the main building of the Naval Ministry.

During the Liberation of Paris, it is here that, on August 25, 1944, the troops of General Leclerc arrested the staff officers of the German Navy. Artillery damage to the rear of the building, on rue de Mondovi, bear witness to the intense fighting which took place in the 1st arrondissement. After the Liberation, the mansion was briefly used by Maurice Thorez, the Vice-Premier of the Provisional Government.