About The Book

Vengeance:  Vichy and the Assassination of Marx Dormoy tells the story of the assassination of former Popular Front Interior Minister Marx Dormoy while Dormoy was residing in the town of Montélimar under house arrest by order of Maréchal Philippe Pétain.  The crime struck France like a thunderbolt when it took place during the night of July 25-26, 1941 because for many people in France, and especially for socialists, Free Masons, Jews, and opponents of Vichy, it signaled that their enemies on the French right had begun what they feared would be a wave of political assassinations, a purge carried out with little or no protection from the Vichy Regime.  Dormoy, who had established a reputation as a crusader against the most extreme and violent elements of the French right before the war, was also one of the famous “quatre-vingts,” the eighty members of the French legislature (out of a total 669 legislators present that fateful day, June 10, 1940) who voted against according full powers to Pétain and essentially dissolving the French Republic in the face of the German military invasion and the disintegration of the French military.  Few were surprised when Dormoy was assassinated, but the murder filled many French men and women with dread for what would follow.Many people immediately suspected that prominent members of Pétain’s cabinet, if not the Maréchal himself, were complicit in Dormoy’s assassination, and certainly few in Pétain’s inner circle were sorry to see Dormoy gone.  The Vichy government soon discovered, however, that the right-wing extremists it had unleashed, or at least toward which it had turned a blind eye, risked becoming a seriously destabilizing force in Vichy-controlled territory, not least because it emerged that the assassins and their supporters were receiving funds and tactical support from the Germans and their French supporters in the Occupied Zone.  Thus within a couple of weeks of the murder, the head of the Vichy forces of order, Henry Chavin, ordered the director of the Vichy investigative police, PierreMondanel, to spare no resources to solve the murder and arrest the assassins (Chavin and Pétain were also without doubt anxious to ensure that the assassins were put behind bars before they could implicate publicly the Vichy regime in the crime).  Mondanel therefore turned to his best detective, the famous Inspector Charles Chenevier, to solve the crime.

Vengeance:  Vichy and the Assassination of Marx Dormoy will closely trace each step of the investigation Chenevier headed, from the initial crime scene through the arrest of the fascinating, bizarre cast of villains who committed the crime.  The assassins were a group of four committed young men, extreme nationalists with anti-Semitic and pro-fascist beliefs, and a daring young woman, AnnieMourraille.  Vengeance:  Vichy and the Assassination of Marx Dormoy will paint a portrait of Mouraille and the other assassins using their own testimony and private letters.  It will also recount the liberation from prison of Mouraille and her surviving co-conspirators in 1943 at the hands of the Gestapo after Chenevier had cracked the case and arrested them.

In addition, Vengeance will follow the subsequent careers of the principal characters during and after the war.  These include Mourraille, who ended up working first for the Gestapo in Paris and then for Franco’s secret service in Spain, Chenevier, who joined the French resistance and resumed his stellar career with the French police after the Liberation, and the ex-Cagoulards Joseph Darnand, Gabriel Jeantet, both close to Pétain, and Eugène Deloncle, who collaborated with the Germans.  Chenevier and others believed that one of trio of Darnand, Jeantet, and Deloncle, or all three, were the architects of Dormoy’s assassination.

In sum, our book is a rousing tale of wartime murder and intrigue, of a courageous and forthright victim, a tenacious and brilliant police inspector, and an audacious and seductive villain, locked in a struggle over the future of France.