Phibun Songkram (พิบูล สงคราม)
Field Marshall and Prime Minister during WW II. During the interregnum of
Rama VII and
Rama VIII the
was governed by a governing council and frequently lived in the grip of military despots, including Phibun Songkram. The latter found inspiration with leaders like Mussolini and Hitler, and while he ruled the people with an iron fist he changed the name in 1939 from Siam into Prathet Thai (Thailand,
Land of the
Free). In 1944 he was forced to step down after he sided with Japan during WW II. For a while it seemed a democratic civilian regime would be installed but due to the confusion following the mysterious death of Rama VIII, the military once again seized power in a coup d'état. In 1948,
made a political comeback, but his popularity had faded and in 1957 he was ousted in yet another coup d'état. To date,
is the longest serving Prime Minister in Thai history.
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