La Cagoule (The Cowl, press nickname coined by the Action Française nationalist Maurice Pujo), officially called Comité secret d'action révolutionnaire (Secret Committee of Revolutionary Action), was a French fascist-leaning and anti-communist terrorist group that used violence to promote its activities from 1935 to 1941.
It developed to overthrow the French Third Republic, led by the Popular Front government, an alliance of left-wing groups. La Cagoule was founded by Eugène Deloncle. Among others, the founder of the cosmetics company L'Oréal, Eugène Schueller, bankrolled the clandestine movement.
The group performed assassinations, bombings, sabotage of armaments, and other violent activities, some intended to cast suspicion on communists and add to political instability. Planning a November 1937 overthrow of the government, La Cagoule was infiltrated by the police, and the national government arrested and imprisoned about 70 men. At the outbreak of World War II, the government released the men to fight in the French Army. Some supported other right-wing organizations and participated in the Vichy government; others joined the Free French of Charles de Gaulle. It was not until 1948 that the government tried surviving members for the charges of 1937.
The group was founded in 1936–1937 by Eugène Deloncle. Because most of its members were bourgeois, the group enjoyed privileged relations within industrial circles (National Federation of ratepayer, Company Lesieur, L'Oréal, etc).
An important member was Joseph Darnand, who later founded the Service d'ordre légionnaire (SOL), the forerunner of the Milice, the Collaborationist paramilitary of the Vichy regime. His nephew Henri Charbonneau was also a member. Jean Filiol was a member. He was appointed as the head of the Milice in Limoges, and fled to Spain at the end of World War II, where he worked in the Spanish subsidiary of L'Oréal. Gabriel Jeantet, who was a lover of a sister of François Mitterrand who later recommended him for the Francisque. Dr. Henri Martin, a medical doctor who is suspected of having forged the Pacte Synarchique, and worked for the Organisation armée secrète (OAS) after World War II. Mohammed El Maadi, head of La Cagoule for French Algeria, creator of the antisemitic newspaper Er Rachid, and organizer of the North-African Brigade, known as SS-Mohammed, in 1944.
The group drew most of its members from Orléanists disappointed by the lack of action by Action Française, which was founded by Charles Maurras. They were opposed to the Popular Front government, created from an alliance of left-wing groups. Historians believe many low-level members were recruited in the belief that it was an auto-defense organization, intended to fight against a Communist takeover.
In Nice, new members were initiated in a formal ritual. In the presence of the Grand Master, dressed in red and accompanied by his assesseurs dressed in black, with their faces covered, new members stood before a table draped with a French flag. A sword and torches were placed on it. Each man raised his right arm and swore the oath, Ad majorem Galliæ gloriam ("For the greater glory of France"). This oath echoed the Jesuit motto, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (For the greater glory of God). Disloyalty was punished by death. For instance, the arms suppliers Léon Jean-Baptiste and Maurice Juif were murdered by Cagoulards in October 1936 and February 1937, respectively, for attempting to enrich themselves by lying about the price they had paid for the arms.
The paramilitary organization was active in the provinces. In Paris it organized militias and demonstrations, and it amassed arms. They attempted to assassinate Léon Blum, the prime minister. They also trained men in terrorism, built underground prisons, and "ran guns in Belgium, Switzerland and Italy."
La Cagoule directed its members in various actions aimed at creating suspicions of Communists to destabilize and destroy the French Republic. Some argue that on 26 January 1937 Jean Filiol stabbed to death Dimitri Navachine, a Russian national and for several years the respected director of the Paris branch of the Soviet State Bank, in the Bois de Boulogne. Others believed that he had been killed by Joseph Stalin's Secret Service, the NKVD, as the Great Purge was underway in the Soviet Union. To ease their obtaining arms from fascist Italy, on 9 June 1937, the group assassinated two Italian antifascists, the Rosselli brothers, who were refugees in France. They sabotaged airplanes clandestinely supplied by the French government to the Spanish Republic. On 11 September 1937, the Cagoule blew up two buildings owned by the Comité des Forges (Ironmasters Association), to create the impression of a communist conspiracy. Although it was widely believed at the time that communists had set the bombs, the government took no official action against the French Communist Party, to the disappointment of Cagoulards. The Cagoule tried to infiltrate the International Brigades for the same purpose.
Organized along military lines, the Cagoule infiltrated parts of the French military via Georges Loustaunau-Lacau's Corvignolles organization (as a means to acquire weapons). They prepared to overthrow the Popular Front government in November 1937 to install a fascist government. The Cagoulards initially intended to make Philippe Pétain chief of state. Pétain refused their overtures, and they chose Marshall Louis Franchet d'Esperey as their future chief of state.
The Cagoule was infiltrated by the French police. On 15 November 1937, Marx Dormoy, Minister of the Interior (and the top officer of law enforcement), denounced their plot and ordered wide arrests of members. The French police seized 2 tons of high explosives, several anti-tank or anti-aircraft guns, 500 machine guns, 65 submachine guns, 134 rifles and 17 sawn-off shotguns. Some of the arms were of German or Italian origin. About 70 men were arrested. Deloncle had boasted that he had 12,000 men under his order in Paris, and 120,000 in the provinces, but it is likely there were no more than 200 men who knew much about the organization and its structure, and another several hundred who were more loosely affiliated with the group.
Reactions to the plot and the revelations by the French government about la Cagoule varied among the international media. In the United States, the editors of the New York Times were initially suspicious of the accounts. The journalists of Time magazine likened La Cagoule to the American Ku Klux Klan, a right-wing group that had a widespread revival from 1915, reaching its peak of influence in 1925, with members elected to political office in midwestern cities and states as well as the South.
During the Occupation of France in 1940, the Vichy government arrested Marx Dormoy, as he had refused to vote for full powers for Marshal Philippe Pétain. They eventually interned him under house arrest at Montélimar. He was assassinated on 26 July 1941 by a clockwork bomb set off at the house. It was believed to have been done by La Cagoule terrorists, in reprisal for Dormoy's arrests in 1937 and attempt to suppress the organization.
La Cagoule was organized into cells. Light cells comprised 8 men armed with submachine guns (typically one per light cell), rifles, semi-automatic pistols and hand grenades. Heavy cells comprised 12 men, armed with a heavy machine gun and the individual weapons. A group of three cells formed one unit, three units a battalion, three battalions a regiment, two regiments a brigade, and two brigades a division. Battalions could be divided into automobile squads of about 50 men. Written communications were avoided as much as possible. The "street fighting" handbook was titled Secret Rules of the Communist Party to avoid revealing La Cagoule in case the booklet was found by the police.
During World War II, members of the Cagoule were divided. Some of them joined various Fascist movements; Schueller and Deloncle founded the Mouvement Social Révolutionnaire, which conducted various pro-Nazi Germany activities in occupied France. It bombed seven synagogues in Paris in October 1941. Others became prominent members of Philippe Pétain's Vichy Regime. Darnand was the leader of the Milice, the Vichy paramilitary group who fought the French Resistance, and enforced anti-semitic policies. He took an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler after accepting a Waffen SS rank.
Other cagoulards sided against the Germans, either as members of the Resistance (such as Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, Pierre Guillain de Bénouville or Georges Loustaunau-Lacau in the Maquis), or as members of Charles de Gaulle's Free French Forces, such as General Henri Giraud or Colonel Passy. After the war, the writer Henri de Kérillis accused de Gaulle of having been a member of La Cagoule; he said that De Gaulle was ready to install a fascist government if the Allies let him become France's chief of state.
The cagoulards arrested for the 1937 conspiracy were not brought to trial for those charges until 1948, after the liberation of France. By then many had served in the Vichy government or the Resistance, and few were brought to trial.
Amelia Rosselli (March 28, 1930 in Paris – February 11, 1996 in Rome) was an Italian poet. She was the daughter of Marion Cave, an English political activist, and Carlo Rosselli, who was a hero of the Italian anti-Fascist Resistance—founder, with his brother Nello, of the liberal socialist movement "Justice and Liberty."
He and his brother were assassinated by La Cagoule, secret services of the Fascist regime, while the extended family was living in exile in France in 1937. The family then moved between England and the United States, where Rosselli was educated. She continued to speak Italian with her grandmother, Amelia Pincherle Rosselli, a Venetian Jewish feminist, playwright, and translator from a family prominent in the Italian Risorgimento, the movement for independence. Rosselli returned to Italy in 1949, eventually settling in Rome.
She spent her life studying composition, music, and ethnomusicology and taking part in the cultural life of postwar Italy as a poet and literary translator. Her extraordinary, highly experimental literary output includes verse and prose in English and French as well as Italian. She committed suicide in 1996 by jumping from her fifth floor apartment near Rome's Piazza Navona.Rosselli has been translated into English by Lucia Re, Jennifer Scappettone, Gian Maria Annovi, Diana Thow, Deborah Woodard, Paul Vangelisti, and Cristina Viti.André Bettencourt
André Bettencourt (21 April 1919 – 19 November 2007) was a French politician. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre, and was a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
He had been a member of La Cagoule, a violent French fascist-leaning and anti-communist group, before and into the Second World War; he then joined the anti-German Resistance late in the war. His earlier affiliation was not known when he later served as a cabinet minister under presidents Pierre Mendès France and Charles de Gaulle, and was awarded for his bravery in the Resistance against the Nazis.CSAR
CSAR may refer to:
Caris Spatial Archive, a file format for storing bathymetry data
Center for the Simulation of Advanced Rockets
Central South African Railways
Combat search and rescue
Cosa succederà alla ragazza, a 1992 music album by Lucio Battisti
Comité secret d'action révolutionnaire, a French anti-communist group better known as La Cagoule
Alternate spelling of the title of nobility, TsarEugène Deloncle
Eugène Deloncle (20 June 1890 – 17 January 1944) was a French engineer and Fascist leader.
A graduate of the École Polytechnique, Deloncle worked for the French Navy, and served as an artillery officer during World War I. Wounded on the Champagne frontline, he was awarded the Legion of Honor.
Initially supportive of the integralist Action Française, he left the movement in 1935, in order to found his own group – the Comité Secret d'Action Révolutionnaire (CSAR), usually known as La Cagoule (a name given by the press). Cagoule kept the Orleanist and strongly anti-republican line of the Action Française, but added the rhetoric of Fascism.
With World War II, the Fall of France, and the German period of occupation, Deloncle created a movement backing Vichy France and Philippe Pétain, the Mouvement Social Révolutionnaire (MSR, Social Revolutionary Movement). MSR, a more radical form of the Cagoule, strongly supported Pétain's traditionalism, as well as the political experiment engineered in Southern France. Afterwards, he approached the National Popular Rally (RNP) of Marcel Déat, but conflicts with the latter got him expelled in May 1942, when he was succeeded as leader by Jean Fontenoy.Deloncle's involvement with the Abwehr made him an enemy of the Gestapo, who assassinated him and seriously wounded his son Louis.Eugène Schueller
Eugène Paul Louis Schueller (20 March 1881 – 23 August 1957) was a French pharmacist and entrepreneur who was the founder of L'Oréal, the world's leading company in cosmetics and beauty. He was one of the founders of modern advertising.Gabriel Jeantet
Gabriel Jeantet (1906–1978) was a French far right activist, journalist and polemicist. Active before, during and after the Second World War, Jeantet's links to François Mitterrand became a source of controversy during the latter's Presidency. His brother Claude Jeantet was also a far right activist.Georges Loustaunau-Lacau
Georges Loustaunau-Lacau (17 April 1894 – 11 February 1955) was a French army officer, anti-communist conspirator, resistant, and politician.Loustaunau-Lacau was born in Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques and in 1912 began his studies at the French Army's officer school, the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr. He served on the staffs of Weygand and Lyautey.
He replaced Charles de Gaulle on the staff of Marshal Philippe Pétain. An officer of extreme right-wing and anti-communist views, he was one of the founders of the Union des Comités d'action défensive—also known as the Corvignolles network—the military branch of La Cagoule. His complicity with this organisation was discovered during the investigations ordered by Minister of the Interior Marx Dormoy and he was dismissed from the army in 1938 by order of the Minister of War Édouard Daladier.He was recalled to active service on the outbreak of the Second World War, but was arrested on the orders of Daladier on 22 March 1940 and imprisoned at Obernai. Later in 1940, under Pétain's new Vichy regime, Loustaunau-Lacau was appointed to head the Légion française des combattants, a veteran's organisation created by the regime.Loustaunau-Lacau used his new post as a cover to recruit agents for a resistance organisation, later known as the Alliance network. He was replaced as head of LFC by Xavier Vallat and sent to French North Africa where his former chief, Marshal Weygand, had him arrested in May 1941. He escaped and returned to France where he was arrested and later deported to Mauthausen Concentration Camp.He survived his imprisonment and after the war entered conventional politics. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1951 to represent Basses-Pyrénées, now Pyrénées-Atlantiques. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General on 3 February 1955 and died in Paris eight days later.Henry Charbonneau
Henry Charbonneau (pseudonym: Henry Charneau) (12 December 1913 in Saint-Maixent-l'École, Deux-Sèvres – 2 January 1983 in La Roche-sur-Yon) was a French far right politician and writer.
The son of a soldier, Charbonneau initially came to political activism as a member of the Action Française before embarking on a varied career with a number of far right groups. A close associate of Jean Filliol, he followed him into the Camelots du Roi militia group before, in 1930, becoming the co-editor of the journal La France Ouvrière with Henry Coston. His next stop in 1932 was the Ligue des Contributables, one of the Far right leagues that, with its anti-tax message, pre-empted the later Poujadist movement. He then became a supporter of Eugène Deloncle and in 1937 joined La Cagoule.Charbonneau dropped out of politics in 1939 when he enlisted in the 1st Regiment of Zouaves. He returned to France in 1941 and joined Deloncle's Mouvement Social Révolutionnaire and soon became a member of the Filiol tendency that turned against Deloncle in 1942. Losing interest in the group, he enlisted in Milice, which was commanded by his uncle by marriage Joseph Darnand and took over editing duties on their journal Combats. The journal appeared weekly, initially in Vichy and then in Paris. Despite this Charbonneau was not overly enthusiastic about the existence of the Milice, and encouraged members to enlist in the Waffen-SS and serve on then Eastern Front. He fled to Germany in 1944 and from his base in Berlin he served the Nazi Party as a propagandist before fleeing first to Milan and finally to Switzerland from where he was extradited to France.Charbonneau spent a while in prison for collaborationism but returned to writing upon his release, with his material featuring in a number of far right journals. In his later years he was a member of both Ordre Nouveau and Parti des forces nouvelles.Jacques Corrèze
Jacques Corrèze (11 February 1912 – 28 June 1991) was a French businessman and politician. He was the chief executive officer of the United States-based operation of L'Oréal for the Americas (Cosmair), the world's leading company in cosmetics and beauty products. He was the secretary of Eugène Deloncle.
Corrèze was a member of La Cagoule, a violent fascist-leaning and anti-communist group. During its early period, Eugène Schueller, founder of L'Oreal, provided financial support and held meetings for La Cagoule at L'Oréal headquarters.
During the Second World War both Jacques Corrèze and Eugene Schueller, as well as many other L'Oreal executives, were very active supporters of the Vichy regime. When the Gestapo raided Deloncle's home, killed him and injured gravely his son Louis Deloncle, Corrèze was present but escaped. He later married Deloncle's widow, Mercedes Deloncle.After the war Corrèze was convicted of a number of crimes, and sentenced to ten years in prison in France. He was released after serving five years and shortly thereafter became a senior executive at L'Oréal and Chairman of Cosmair, a private U.S. company and the sole licensee of L'Oreal in the United States.Corrèze was in charge of negotiations with Arab governments to illegally comply with the Arab League Bureau of Economic Boycott requests, after the Arab League began a boycott of L'Oréal when it was revealed that the group had acquired Helena Rubinstein Incorporated, a company with a manufacturing plant in Israel.
Jacques Corrèze was also under investigation by the Office of Special Investigations (United States Department of Justice) in 1991 for his active participation in antisemitic acts and for his membership of the anti-communist Légion des volontaires français. Forced to leave the United States, he died of pancreatic cancer a week later in Paris, aged 79. His wife died three years earlier.Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil
Jacques Lemaigre Dubreuil (1894–1955) was a businessman and activist, born in Solignac on October 30, 1894 and murdered in Casablanca on June 11, 1955.He married Simone Lesieur, daughter of Georges Lesieur – founder of the brand of edible oils of the same name (Huiles Lesieur). Having joined its board of directors in 1926, he directed and developed the company until his death. He owned the Maroc-Presse newspaper and had interests in the Printemps department store chain.
A militant of the extreme right, he was one of the funders of La Cagoule in the late 1930s.During the Second World War, he was very active in the underground. He was one of those who favoured the Allied landings in North Africa, on 8 November 1942, Operation Torch. He was a link between Robert Murphy and Henri Giraud; when the latter arrived in Algeria, he was accommodated in Lemaigre-Dubreuil's houseLater, Lemaigre Dubreuil was very active in supporting Moroccan claims for autonomy, for which he drew fierce hatred from movements supporting the retention of Morocco as a French protectorate. These movements, described at the time as terrorist-cons had many accomplices in European circles, including the French administration. It is suspected the French secret service were closely related to some of them, such as La Main rouge (Red Hand).
Lemaigre-Dubreuil was assassinated in Casablanca on the evening of June 11, 1955, in the square that later bore his name, at the foot of the "Liberté" building where he lived. His funeral took place on June 14 in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Casablanca.Jean Filiol
Jean Filiol (born 9 May 1909, date of death unknown) was a French militant, who was active in La Cagoule before the Second World War. After the war, he fled to Spain, where he worked for the local office of L'Oréal.
Filliol was one of the founding members of La Cagoule, after being previously a member of the Camelots du Roi. He was one of suspects in the killing of the Italian anti-fascists Carlo and Nello Rosselli in 1937, for which a French court convicted him to death in absentia in 1948. Filliol was interned in 1942, but released in 1944, on the orders of Joseph Darnand. He fled to Spain after the war, which refused to extradite him to stand trial in France.L'Oréal
L'Oréal S.A. is a French personal care company headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine with a registered office in Paris. It is the world's largest cosmetics company and has developed activities in the field concentrating on hair colour, skin care, sun protection, make-up, perfume, and hair care.Upon the death of her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, who was principal shareholder, Françoise Bettencourt Meyers is the current owner of the company, with a 33.14% stake in its existence.Marx Dormoy
René Marx Dormoy (1 August 1888 – 26 July 1941) was a French socialist politician, noted for his opposition to the far right. Under his leadership as Minister of the Interior in the government of Léon Blum, the French police infiltrated La Cagoule, which was planning the overthrow of the French Third Republic, led by the Popular Front government. Dormoy directed the arrest and imprisonment of 70 cagoulards in November 1937. The police recovered 2 tons of armaments from their sites.
After the Occupation of France, Dormoy as a representative refused to approve providing full powers to Marshal Philippe Petain and the Vichy government. He was arrested in 1940 and interned in house arrest in Montelimar. He was assassinated there in July 1941 by a bomb set off at his house. It was believed to be the work of La Cagoule terrorists.Mitterrand and the far right
François Mitterrand and the far right has been the theme of a number of books, films and television programmes since 1990, generating many column inches and much debate, not to mention rumours and gossip. Pierre Péan's book published in 1994 discusses in depth François Mitterrand's formative years in 1930s and 1940s. Other authors discuss 1980s rise in the Front national, and debate the possibility of Mitterrand deliberately dividing the right for political gain.Murder of Laetitia Toureaux
Laetitia Nourrissat Toureaux (1907–1937) was a murder victim. She was found dead in a Paris Métro carriage at Porte Dorée on 16th May, 1937. This crime was widely discussed at the time, and the interwar period generated multiple speculations, involving the secret services and La Cagoule.Toureaux was the first person to be killed on the Paris Métro. Police investigations, led by Commissioner Badin found that the victim was leading a double life, and that her entire family, originally from Italy, had relocated to France. Many Italians came to Paris at the time in search of work. Toureaux worked during the day in a factory, but was found to also be working under a false name as an attendant at a dance hall with a seedy reputation, and frequently making discreet visits to the Italian Embassy. She was known to have had various lovers, leading police to initially suspect a crime of passion. However, further investigation revealed she had been working as a spy. She had been employed to infiltrate La Cagoule, a far-right terrorist group that was often overlooked later in post-war France.The case was dropped two years later at the outbreak of the Second World War.Paul Dungler
Paul Dungler (Thann, Haut-Rhin, 1902 - Colmar, 1974) was a French industrialist, royalist militant and Resistance worker.
Dungler joined the ranks of Action Française then of La Cagoule, and launched himself into politics during the inter-war period. Upon France's defeat in 1940, he was in Périgord where he returned to Alsace to join the Resistance. He returned secretly to Thann in Alsace on 25 August 1940, and founded the 7e Colonne d'Alsace, registered at London under the name of the Martial network.
Général Giraud's escape was one of the network's greatest successes. Dungler was one of the initiators of the Organisation de résistance de l'armée (ORA) and involved in the founding of Groupes Mobiles d'Alsace. Threatened with arrest, Dungler decided to take refuge in the unoccupied zone of France, all the while planning secret operations through London. In 1943 he negotiated with General Charles de Gaulle and the Americans at Algiers so that Alsace would be present in the next wars of liberation.Paul Vigouroux
Paul Vigouroux (1919–1980), also known as Mathieu Laurier, was a French political activist and anti-communist. He was a member of the Jeunesses Patriotes, La Cagoule, and was secretary general of the Parti français national-collectiviste (PFNC), a political party that was one of the forerunners of the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism.
After the French Occupation by Germany in 1941, he volunteered to fight against the USSR in the Eastern Front with the Legion of French Volunteers. In 1942 he joined Franc-Garde, the armed wing of the paramilitary force Milice. He also edited Au Pilori, an anti-Semitic newspaper.
After the Liberation of France he fled to Venezuela, where he wrote his memoirs under the pseudonym Mathieu Laurier.Revolutionary Social Movement
The Revolutionary Social Movement (in French: Mouvement Social Révolutionnaire - MSR) was a Fascist movement founded in France in September 1940. Its founder was Eugène Deloncle, who was previously associated with La Cagoule (CSAR).
The MSR supported the return of Pierre Laval to the Vichy government of Petain, after he was removed from government in December 1940. They collaborated with the Rassemblement National Populaire (RNP), which was founded in January 1941 and of which the MSR became a faction.
A split in the RNP came after the Eastern Front opened up in July 1941 and the LVF was formed. Another frontman in the RNP was Marcel Déat, who had the confidence of Laval. When he found out Deloncle was plotting against him, he had him and his faction removed from the RNP. Deloncle also took many member of the RNP's paramilitary wing with him.
In October 1941, Deloncle plotted against seven Parisian synagogues with the help of a local SS officer, Hans Sommer, who provided the explosives for the attack.
Further splits in the MSR happened over the next year, as Deloncle became more occupied with the LVF. The other factions at that time coalesced around Jean Filliol, a former Cagoulard, and revolutionaries Georges Soulès and André Mahé. A coup against the Deloncle faction was completed on May 14, 1942, which left Deloncle without a political future. He was killed two years later in a shootout with the Gestapo, who suspected him of having obtained ties to the Allies. For a time in 1942 leadership passed to Jean Fontenoy.Filiol began plotting against Laval, whose government interned him in October 1942. The remaining Soulès faction of the MSR moved into an anti-German position, but disappeared at the end of the war.Synarchism
Synarchism generally means "joint rule" or "harmonious rule". Beyond this general definition, both synarchism and synarchy have been used to denote rule by a secret elite in Vichy France, Italy, China, Hong Kong and Mexico.