Henri Marie Archambault de Montfort was born on January 19, 1889, in La Flèche (Sarthe). He defended his political science thesis on Condorcet’s ideas on suffrage in 1915 at the University of Poitiers.
In 1919 he married Annie Deguirmendjian-Shah-Vekil, with whom he published several books. They had four children: Claude, Marc, Anne-Marie and François. A specialist in Eastern European issues, Henri de Montfort was a professor at the Institute of Higher International Studies and at the Centre for Polish Studies in Paris.
From 1923 to 1932, Henri de Montfort was the special correspondent for French newspaper Le Temps in Poland and in Baltic states. He published several works about the political situation and the history of Poland, Finland, and the Baltic States.
In his works and in the lectures he organized, Henri de Montfort presented the contribution of Baltic peoples, highlighted the French influence in these countries and warned of the German threat.
In addition to his articles and scientific publications, Henri de Montfort co-authored four books with novelist Paul de Garros: L’Inexplicable Crime (The Inexplicable Crime) in 1921, Le Fils de Don Quichotte (The Son of Don Quixote) in 1924; Douloureuses fiançailles (Stressful Engagement) in 1925, and Reine des errants (The Queen of Wanderers) in 1933.
Organizer of a resistance network
He became director of services of the Institute of France. Under German-occupied France, he and his wife Annie created and operated a clandestine newspaper of French Resistance called La France continue.
Thirteen issues of La France continue were published between June 10, 1941 and February 1942. Its contributors include: Raymond Burgard, Emile Coornaert, Suzanne Feingold, Marietta Martin, and Paul Petit, who had inspired the newspaper. The tone of the paper was very literary and sometimes harsh. It was particularly critical of Philippe Pétain.
The network broke up in February 1942 after several of its members, including Raymond Burgard, Marietta Martin, and Paul Petit were arrested.
Henri de Montfort continued his resistance activities in secret. Annie de Montfort was arrested for acts of Resistance in 1943 and died in a concentration camp.
On June 13, 1945, Henri de Montfort and Suzanne Feingold, with help from Professor René Cassin, began publishing Ici Paris as a replacement for La France continue. The name of the new publication was a reference to the opening message of Radio Londres (Radio London), a French resistance station based in England: "Ici Londres, les français parlent aux français" ("This is London, the French are speaking to the French").
For their motto, Henri de Montfort chose a quotation by Georges Clemenceau: "Dans la guerre comme dans la paix, le dernier mot est à ceux qui ne se rendent jamais." ("In war as in peace, the last word belongs to those who never surrender."). From 1946 on, Ici Paris was no longer a political newspaper.
Henri de Montfort married Suzanne Feingold, the former secretary of the Alliance israélite universelle (1924 - 1945). In the 1950s, he was the general secretary of l’Académie internationale de science politique et d’histoire constitutionnelle (International Academy of Political Science and Constitutional History), which was based at the University of Sorbonne. He continued to pursue his work as a historian, with a focus on Poland.