The conflicting attitudes toward Mr. Dassault were on full display in French newsstands after his death.
While a photograph of Mr. Dassault filled almost the entire front page of Le Figaro on Friday, proclaiming that he had had “France at heart,” the left-leaning daily Libération, known for its cheeky headlines, wrote that he was now “tiré d’affaires” — or “off the hook” — for his multiple legal entanglements.
In February 2017, Mr. Dassault was found guilty of money laundering and tax fraud for hiding millions of his own euros in tax havens. He was fined two million euros. An appeal of the verdict had been scheduled to be heard in court in June.
Serge Dassault was born in Paris on April 4, 1925. His father was born into a Jewish family as Marcel Bloch but changed his last name and converted to Roman Catholicism after World War II. His mother was Madeleine Minckès.
The Gestapo imprisoned Serge and his family in a French detention camp in 1944, and his father was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp, where the Germans hoped to use his skills as an aircraft designer. The elder Mr. Dassault was freed after eight months. The other members of the family were freed within weeks of being seized, when the Germans abandoned the detention camp.
Mr. Dassault went on to study engineering, including at the prestigious École Polytechnique, before starting work at his father’s company in 1951, first in the aviation department and then, in 1963, as a senior manager in its electronics branch. He was chairman and chief executive of Dassault’s aviation business from 1986 to 2000.