Archives of Camille Gutt

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  • Research instruments: Inventory AA 1624

Archives fonds description:

The Gutt archives mainly document the activities of Camille Gutt within the Belgian exile government in London, but also contain personal papers of the minister and family archives, including documents of his wife, Claire Gutt, about her husband’s activities in occupied Belgium. The last part of the fonds comprises all of the correspondence between Georges Theunis and Camille Gutt during the war.

Camille Gutt was born in Brussels on 14 November 1884. He graduated in political sciences and got a PhD in law from Free University of Brussels (ULB), after which he started a career as layer and journalist.

He enrolled in the French corps of the Spahi during the First World War, refused to follow his regiment into the Dardanelles in 1915 and went The Hague. He met many Belgian public figures such as Gaston Blaise and Fernand Neuray. In 1916, he was sent to London to join the team in charge of purchases in the United Kingdom led by Georges Theunis (1873-1966), of which he became the closest collaborator. Camille Gutt was then appointed as secretary-general of the supplies committee in London.

In 1919, he was called back by Georges Theunis to his post as secretary-general of the Belgian delegation to the Reparations Committee set up by virtue of the Treaty of Versailles. When Georges Theunis was appointed as minister of finance in 1921 and later headed the ministerial cabinet until 1924, Camille Gutt followed him as head of cabinet although he was still mainly tasked with the reparation negotiations with Germany. In 1926, Camille Gutt was appointed by Emile Francqui as assistant officer to the Treasury in charge of preparing a loan from the British-American banking syndicate to ease the burden on the Belgian public budget.

Afer this professional experience, he entered the private business sector. With the support of Emile Francqui, he got a job in the non-ferrous division of Société Générale de Belgique. Holding. He held a seat on the board of directors of Compagnie des Métaux d’Overpelt-Lommel whose administrator-director he became in 1931. He also became a member of the board at Société Générale des Minerais (Sogémines), and of Société Générale Industrielle et Chimique du Katanga (Sogéchim) in 1930. Finally, he was also on the board of the Belgian division of Ford, Ford Motor Cy (Belgium) as well as Empain, Electrorail.

After having held the office of minister of Finance in the so-called “bankers’ government” of 1934/35, he returned to the private sector. He became a member of the board of Compagnie Belge des Mines, Minerais et Métaux et des Mines et Fonderies de Zinc de la Vieille Montagne. In February 1939, he was charged by king Leopold III to participate as minister of Finance in the cabinet of the Pierlot government. He held this office from February 1938 until May 1940.

In August 1940, Camille Gutt decided jointly with the minister for colonies Albert De Vleeschauwer to settle in London. In October of the same year, they were joined by Hubert Pierlot and Paul-Henri Spaak. Within the Belgaina governemnt in exile in London, Camille Gutt held the following offices: minister of finance (1940-1944), minister of economic affairs (1940-1944), minister of communication (1940-1944) and minister of national defense (1940-1942). In the course of the war, he lost two sons.

Upon his return to Brussels in September 1944, he resumed his work as minister of finance until February 1945. He subsequently got sent the United States and to the United Kingdom to lead the negotiations for an agreement on post-war mutual aid (Belgium/United Kingdom) an loans (Belgium/United States). After these missions, he participated in the Savannah Conference of March 1946, where he was in charge of settling the modalities for the work of the Bretton-Woods Institutions. He then got elected as director-general, a post he held from 1946 to 1951.

Upon his return to Belgium he resumed his business career together with Léon Lambert. He died in Brussels on 7 June 1971.

For more information :

  • Crombois, Jean-François. Camille Gutt: Les Finances et La Guerre 1940-1945. Gerpinnes: Quorum, 2000.
  • Crombois, J.-F. ‘Camille Gutt’. In Nouvelle Biographie Nationale, 6:228–32. Bruxelles: Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, 2001.
  • Gotovitch, José. Camille Gutt. Bruxelles: RTB, 1968.