Hoover and Lavel, 1931


(Left to right: Boissard, French Ministerial Director; French Premier Pierre Laval; President Herbert Hoover; Ogden Mills, U.S. Undersecretary of State; U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson)

In its 9th November 1931 issue, Time magazine reported, “President Hoover might never have allowed Dr. Erich “Candid Camera” Salomon in the White House if Premier Laval of France had not politely insisted. Like Benito Mussolini, Ramsay MacDonald, and Chancellor Brüning, Pierre Laval has become convinced that Dr. Salomon’s spontaneous snapshots are historic documents to be preserved for posterity.”

Visiting the U.S. with Pierre Laval, Erich Salomon asked the permission of the Frenchman to take the pictures on board the special train to Washington. “First, I must get acquainted with President Hoover, whom I do not yet know,” replied the premier. On the last day of the visit, the permission was granted. President Hoover is well known to dislike almost all Frenchmen, and the President and Premier posed stiffly side-by-side in the Lincoln study of the White House. Salomon asked them to be ‘natural’ and to start talking. They agreed and this ‘candid’ picture was born.

When Time made Pierre Laval its Man of the Year in 1931, a reproduction of Salomon’s picture was on the cover of the magazine. It further explained: “[He] wagged an explanatory finger at President Hoover. The keynote of 1931 was sounded by Man-of-the-Year Pierre Laval as he sailed for Washington: ‘A severe correctional and disciplinary period is indicated’.”

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