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La Cagoule

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 group that used violence to promote its activities from 1935 to 1937.

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 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.


  • In the Third Republic 1
    • Organization of the Cagoule 1.1
  • World War II and after 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

In the Third Republic

The group was founded in 1936-1937 by Eugène Deloncle. Some former Cagoulards, such as Jacques Corrèze, were later hired as company executives. Eugène Schueller bankrolled the clandestine movement. Its major industrialist leaders provided funds for arms and operations.[1]

Another important activist was

  • Bio of Marx Dormoy and details on the Cagoule

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Annette Finley-Croswhite and Gayle K. Brunelle "Murder in the Metro", Quest, Old Dominion University, accessed 24 July 2012
  2. ^ Pierre Péan Le Mystérieux docteur Martin, 1895-1969 Fayard 1993
  3. ^ Rémi Kauffer "La Cagoule tombe le masque", Historia, n°108, 1 July 2007
  4. ^ "Foreign News: Stalin, Navachine & Blum", Time Magazine, 8 February 1937, accessed 24 July 2012
  5. ^ Stanislao G. Pugliese "Death in Exile: The Assassination of Carlo Rosselli", Journal of Contemporary History, 32 (1997), pp. 305-319
  6. ^ M. Agronsky Foreign Affairs 17 391 (1938)
  7. ^ Time Magazine "Monstrous Conspiracy", 6 December 1937
  8. ^ Time Magazine "Terrible Gravity", 29 November 1937
  9. ^ Time Magazine "Death by bomb", 4 August 1941
  10. ^ John L. Spivak "Secret Armies, the new tactics of Nazi warfare" Chapter III, France's Secret Fascist Army New York: Modern Age Books, 1939, p. 31
  11. ^ Henri de Kérillis, I Accuse De Gaulle Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1946


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.[1]

Other cagoulards sided against the Germans, either as members of the Resistance (such as 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.[11]

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. As such, he took an oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler, and had a Waffen SS rank.

World War II and after

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 entitled Secret Rules of the Communist Party to avoid revealing La Cagoule in case the booklet was found by the police.[10]

  • Premier Bureau: Eugène Deloncle and Jacques Corrèze
  • Deuxième Bureau (intelligence): Dr. Henri Martin, Alfred Corre (Dagore)
  • Troisième Bureau (operations): Georges Cachier
  • Quatrième Bureau (recruits and equipment): Jean Moreau de La Meuse
  • Sources of funding: Eugène Schueller, Louis Renault, Lemaigre Dubreuil (owner of table oil Lesieur and department stores Le Printemps), Gabriel Jeantet (Lafarge cements), Pierre Pucheu (Comptoir Sidérurgique)

Organization of the Cagoule

[9] During the

At the outbreak of World War II, the French government released imprisoned cagoulards to fight in the French Army. Some entered the Milice, as did Jacques de Bernonville.

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.

[1] The Cagoule was infiltrated by the French police. On November 15, 1937,

as their future chief of state. Louis Franchet d'Esperey chief of state. Pétain refused their overtures, and they chose Marshall Philippe Pétain initially intended to make Cagoulards in November 1937 to install a fascist government. The Popular Front government They prepared to overthrow the [7] Organized along military lines, the Cagoule infiltrated parts of the

La Cagoule directed its members in various actions aimed at creating suspicions of Communists to destabilize and destroy the French Republic. On January 26, 1937 Jean Filliol stabbed to death French Communist Party, to the disappointment of Cagoulards. The Cagoule tried to infiltrate the International Brigades for the same purpose.

The paramilitary organization was active in Paris as well as the provinces, organizing militias in the capital, creating demonstrations and amassing 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."[1]

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").[3] 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.

[1] The group drew most of its members from

). SS-Mohammed and of the North-African Brigade on January 28, 1944, also known as Er Rachid, and creator of the antisemitic newspaper Algeria for French La Cagoule and Mohammed El Maadi (head of [2]

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