George Montandon is the son of James Montandon, an industrialist, and Cornelia Philippine Catherine Rehfuss. His father, James Montandon, of La Brévine, born in 1846, was a municipal councillor in Colombier in 1888, then a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Neuchâtel in 1889.
George Montandon, the youngest of four children, studied medicine at the University of Geneva and then at the University of Zurich where, from 1906 to 1908, he performed surgery at the University Clinic. After his military service, he became passionate about anthropology. He went to Hamburg, then to London and decided to become an explorer. At the age of thirty, in October 1909, he sailed to Marseille for Ethiopia, which he visited in 1910.
On his return from Ethiopia, he settled as a doctor in Renens (Vaud). In 1914, he volunteered at a French hospital in Bourg-en-Bresse, where he put his surgical training back into practice, and then returned to Switzerland in 1916. In 1919 he studied at the Musée d'ethnographie de Genève the genealogy of musical instruments and the "cycles of civilization".
Attracted by the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, Montandon went to the Soviet Union in 1919, charged by the Red Cross with organizing the repatriation by Vladivostok of Austrian prisoners of war held in Siberia. He took the opportunity to study the last Ainu people on Sakhalin Island and the Buryates on Lake Baikal. In Vladivostok, he married a 22-year-old communist Russian woman, Maria Konstantinovna Zviaguina, of whom he would have three children.
In 1921, the Neuchâtel State Council officially refused, for economic reasons but probably for political reasons, to ratify his appointment as professor of ethnology at the University of Neuchâtel. Indeed, Montandon, who had returned to Switzerland, was in favour of the Bolshevik revolution and had become a member of the Swiss Communist Party. Rumours have it that he is receiving money from the Soviet secret service. He denounced slavery in Abyssinia and the genocide of the Indians in the United States.
In 1925, he moved to Paris, where he worked at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, and wrote in the communist magazine Clarté, directed by Henri Barbusse.
In 1929, Montandon published L'Ologenèse humaine, a new theory of evolution, a work that was well received.
In 1931, he entered the School of Anthropology. In 1933, he held the chair of ethnology and published La Race, les races chez Payot. The classification of breeds proposed by Montandon is still presented in 1965 as a reference.
Appointed in 1936 as curator of the Broca Museum, and disappointed by the Popular Front, perhaps for more personal than political reasons, he turned to anti-Semitism and corresponded with well-known anti-Semites such as Henri-Robert Petit, Léon de Poncins and Armand Bernardini. Céline book Bagatelles for a massacre is clearly influenced by Montandon's work, which is even cited in L'École des cadavres.
In November 1940, Montandon inaugurated the "Les Juifs en France" collection with Denoël, Céline's publisher at the Nouvelles Éditions françaises, by publishing Comment reconnaître le Juif? It is a brochure containing quotes from Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Édouard Drumont, Guy de Maupassant, Jules Michelet, Frédéric Mistral, Ernest Renan, Adolphe Thiers, Voltaire and Émile Zola. In July 1940, he became director of the magazine L'Ethnie française, financed by the German Institute in Paris, then by the Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, Darquier de Pellepoix. He published articles on "Jewish ethnicity".
In October 1941, he helped to organize the exhibition at the Berlitz Palace, Le Juif et la France, where we tried to teach everyone "how to recognize a Jew? From December 1941, he was attached to the General Commissariat for Jewish Questions as an ethnologist, to carry out "racial visits", the conclusions of which were addressed to the Vichy police authorities. In case of doubt about certain internees in the Drancy transit camp, Montandon travels at the request of the authorities to carry out "anthropometric examinations" at the end of which he issues or not a "certificate of belonging to the Jewish race" constituting release or deportation. Whatever the outcome, this consultation was invoiced to the interested parties at 300 and then 400 francs, excluding travel expenses.
In 1943, George Montandon, who was in charge of the "Jewish and Ethnoracial Studies Institute" (IEQJR), was appointed director. Montandon distributed his translation, intended for medical students, of the Manual of Eugenics and Human Heredity of the Nazi Otmar von Verschuer, head of the Institute of Anthropology in Berlin.
The house of Montandon in Clamart was occupied by Resistance fighters on August 3, 1944. His wife was killed and Montandon would also have died at that time.
However, according to Celine, Montandon was only injured and transported first to Lariboisière Hospital, which was then under German administration, and then to Germany where he died on August 30 at the Karl-Weinrich-Kranhenhaus Hospital in Fulda, possibly from cancer in addition to the injuries received in Clamart.