Thorez, Maurice (mōrēsˈ tôrĕzˈ) [key], 1900–1964, French Communist leader. The son of a coal miner, Thorez himself worked in the mines. He early joined the Socialist party and in 1920 became one of the original members of the French Communist party. Largely self-taught, Thorez rose in the ranks and became party secretary in 1930 and a leader of the Communists in the chamber of deputies, to which he was elected in 1932. Conscripted when World War II broke out, Thorez deserted and went to Moscow. Although sentenced in absentia, he was amnestied (1944) after the liberation of France and was reelected a deputy. Under his leadership the Communists became the largest single party in the elections of 1945 and 1946. Thorez was vice premier in 1946–47 but afterward returned to the opposition. His position in national politics was subsequently weakened—particularly after the revelations of Stalinist atrocities, since Thorez had been associated with the Soviet leader.
See his early autobiography (tr. 1938).