|Born||14 Jul 1897|
|Died||11 Jun 1964|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbasePlaek Khittasangkha was bestowed the title Luang Pibulsonggram by Siamese King Prajadhipok in 1928, and the title was adopted as his surname later. He was a graduate of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy and he had received French schooling. In 1932, as a lieutenant colonel, he was one of the leaders of a coup d'etat that took away real political power from the monarch. In 1938, he became the Prime Minister of Siam; among his first actions as prime minister was a widespread program to remove his political opponents through arrests and execution. His techniques to gain popularity in his country is comparable to those of Nazi Germany, where a government branch in charge of propaganda bombarded the population with carefully planned messages centered around an extreme right-wing and ethnocentric theme. In 1939, after a series of industrial and cultural modernization, he officially changed the name of the country to Thailand.
ww2dbasePibulsonggram found Thailand at the edge of war on 8 Dec 1941 when Thai borders were violated by Japanese troops during Japan's invasion of Malaya. Unwilling to take his country into a war against a power that Thailand could not defeat, the already pro-Japanese Pibulsonggram declared a general ceasefire on the same day, allowing Japanese troops to march across Thai territory to reach Malaya. On 12 Dec, he signed a military alliance with Japan, which led to Thailand's declaration of war against the United States and Britain on 25 Jan 1942. Many Thai argued that because of his willingness to work with the Japanese, Thailand's sovereignty was respected by Japan, unlike that of other countries in the region. Therefore even though he was eventually removed from power during the later stages of WW2, war crime charges against him were dropped due to public pressure.
ww2dbasePibulsonggram returned to the Thai political arena immediately after the war. In Nov 1947, troops under his influence overthrew the government, and he declared himself prime minister on 8 Apr 1948. Once again a purge took place to rid his political opponents, but contrastingly from his first regime, this time he operated under the name of a democratic republic, and participated in UN-sponsored initiatives, including sending troops during the Korean War. On 29 Jun 1951, he was taken hostage during a Thai Navy coup d'etat. While he emerged victorious in the 1951 coup attempt, he was overthrown in yet another coup attempt in 1957. He was exiled to Japan and remained there until his death.
Last Major Revision: Jul 2006
Plaek Pibulsonggram Timeline
|14 Jul 1897||Plaek Pibulsonggram was born.|
|11 Jun 1964||Plaek Pibulsonggram passed away.|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945