Chapter Outlines                        

Acknowledgements

Introduction                                                                                          

Chapter 1   Montélimar – The Minister, the Blond, and the Bomb                           

In this chapter we open the book with the actual crime, from the moment the bomb went off through launching the police investigation.  We will discuss the immediate aftermath, the arrival of the police, what they found in the room, and then segue into the next chapter by revealing the identity of the victim and thus the significance of the crime as a political assassination.

 

Chapter 2   Marx Dormoy – “Ardent Patriot and Servant of France”

In this chapter we will give a “mini-biography” of Marx Dormoy.  We will discuss his political career, including his advocacy for the working classes as a Socialist, his role as Interior Minister in the Popular Front government, his firm stance against the extreme right, such as his opposition to Jacques Doriot’s PPF and his tenacious pursuit of the Cagoule that resulted in the arrest of that organization’s leaders in 1937, and his courageous vote against the dissolution of the Third Republic and the creation of the Vichy regime on July 10, 1940.  The chapter will conclude by tracing Dormoy’s trajectory from his arrest by the Vichy government in September of 1940 through his consignment to house arrest at the Relais de l’Émpereur in Montélimar in 1941.  We will conclude with his prescient statement to friends exactly one year prior to his assassination that “In one year, either I will have been a minister, or I will have been shot.”

 

Chapter 3   Montélimar – The Assassins’ Bouquet              

In this chapter we will trace the first weeks of the police investigation in Montélimar, beginning the morning of July 26, 1941, until August 14th, when the police finally got an explosive (literally) break in the case that is the focus of the next chapter.  This chapter will use extensive witness testimony depict how the police gradually pieced together the movements of the assassins and the clever way in which the killers used a bouquet of flowers to smuggle the time-bomb that killed Dormoy into the Relais de l’Émpereur.  Gradually the police realized that they were investigating a carefully planned and executed crime.

 

Chapter 4   A Bombing in Nice and a Break in the Case  

This chapter will begin with another bombing, one in which three suspects in the case were killed, possibly accidently, possibly not, while carrying another time bomb in the public garden at Nice.  Their intent ostensibly was to use that bomb to destroy a Jewish synagogue in Nice, although there is some evidence they were planning another assassination of another hated Socialist from the Third Republic, Vincent Auriol.  Although the three young men were literally blown to bits (when the brother of one them arrived in Nice to claim his brother’s body, the body parts of the victims were so intermixed that he left empty-handed and enraged because he couldn’t tell which remains were those of his brother), the police were able to recover identity cards and other papers on the victims’ bodies that led them to Yves Moynier, Ludovic Guichard, and Roger Mouraille.  This chapter will follow that trail from the explosion in Nice through the arrests of Moynier, Guichard, and Mouraille.  We will also introduce readers to these three men in this chapter.

 

Chapter 5   Paris Informs:  Inspector Chenevier Takes Over the Investigation 

It is in Chapter 5 that readers will meet Inspector Charles Chenevier, the real “hero” of this story.  Chenevier was serving as a police inspector for the Sûreté at the time of Dormoy’s assassination, but he was based in Paris (ostensibly the Vichy government retained jurisdiction over civilian affairs, including much policing, even in the Occupied Zone).  While in Paris in the weeks before Dormoy’s death, Chenevier’s informants within the milieu of the extreme right, sources Chenevier had carefully cultivated during his investigation of the Cagoule in the 1930s, warned him that ex-Cagoulards had assembled an assassination team and intended to strike an imminent “blow” against a figure from the hated Third Republic.  Chenevier passed the warning on to Vichy, but nothing was done.  After the crime at Montélimar, however, Chenevier’s superior in Vichy, Henri Chavin, ordered him to take charge of the investigation.  This chapter will introduce Chenevier, discuss the ways in which French police depended heavily on informants, and the revelations that Chenevier received that first linked the Cagoule to the Dormoy assassination.

 

Chapter 6   Montélimar  and Marseilles: On the Trail of A Femme Fatale        

This chapter shows Chenevier arriving in Montélimar and leading the hunt for the real identity of the “femme fatale” at the Relais de l’Émpereur, and whom Yves Moynier and the others refused to identify. It was Chenevier, with the invaluable support of Inspector Georges Kubler (who later died in a German concentration camp), who finally ferreted out the true identity of the attractive young woman flirting with Marx Dormoy at the Relais, and whom witnesses knew as “Florence Gérodias” – in reality Annie Mourraille – and it was Chenevier who, again with Kubler by his side, arrested Mourraille in her dressing room after a theatrical performance in Vichy.  This chapter will cover the hunt for Annie Mourraille and continue through her arrest and her initial revelations to the police regarding the role of Vichy in organizing the assassination.

 

Chapter 7   Marseilles:  “Type Tarzan” – Recruiting A Team of Assassins                     

In this and the following two chapters we shift focus away from Chenevier and the police investigation, and toward the assassins and their relationships with each other, with Vichy, and with Paris.  In this chapter we will discuss in particular the bonds of comradery, through shared war experiences and, especially among the men, of a masculine culture of athletics and extreme right politics that bound the assassins together and led to their recruitment into the assassination team.  Roger Mouraille, for example, met Raymond “André” Herard while fighting for Franco during the Spanish Civil war.  Ludovic Guichard and Yves Moynier attended the same lycée (high school) in Marseilles, and Moynier worked for Mouraille before and during the war.

 

Chapter 8   Vichy: The Corsican and the Intellectual                  

This chapter introduces Gabriel Jeantet and discusses the evidence that began to emerge tying the crime to Vichy in general and to him in particular, through Antoine Marchi.  We will also meet Antoine Marchi in this chapter, whose identity will be raised at the conclusion of Chapter Six, as it was Annie Mourraille who first resolved to “give him up” to the police in a desperate effort to save Yves Moynier, with whom she had fallen in love.  We will learn about Marchi’s military career, his violent past and altercations with the police, and his entanglements with the extreme right, both through Doriot’s PPF and Deloncle’s MSR, and his role as a leader of the GP in Marseilles.  This chapter will conclude with the arrest of Marchi and his efforts to use his connections to get released on bail.

 

Chapter 9   Paris: The Assassin and The Master Plotter  

This chapter will continue the saga of Antoine Marchi, and the policemen who followed his trail from Vichy to Paris.  We will describe Marchi’s clandestine trip to Paris in early August of 1941 with Roger Mouraille and Yves Moynier – the trio slipped off the train and crossed the border on foot at night to enter the Occupied Zone and were apprehended upon their return back into the Vichy Zone.  We will follow them as they make contact with the MSR, first via “M. André” (Raymond Herard) and then with Eugène Deloncle at the headquarters of the MSR.  We will introduce Herard, Deloncle, and the MSR in this chapter and also discuss the evidence that Marchi and probably Moynier had ties with Deloncle that predated the war.  They were in Paris ostensibly to seek Deloncle’s protection after they realized that Vichy would not intervene on their behalf, but it seems likely that the real goal for Mouraille and Marchi was to make the “weak link in the chain,” Moynier, “disappear” by enrolling him in Deloncle’s Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism and have him sent to die on the Eastern Front before the police could identify him as one of Dormoy’s assassins and arrest him.  Little did the trio realize that it was Annie Mourraille, not Moynier, who ultimately would “spill the beans” to Chenevier, as we will see in the next chapter.

 

Chapter 10            Montélimar and Valence:  The Hound And the Fox

This chapter covers the veritable duel that took place between Annie Mourraille and Charles Chenevier during the months of October, 1941 through March, 1942.  Arraigned and indicted in Montélimar, and thrown into prison under increasingly stringent conditions at Valence, the suspects realized that Vichy did not intend to come to their aid, but rather was willing to let them “rot” in prison as long as they were silenced.  Annie Mourraille and Chenevier were adversaries, but their common desire to see the “true” authors of the crime at Vichy arrested brought them together, Chenevier because he was determined to bring down Jeantet and the Cagoulards in Paris if he could, Mourraille because she was afraid for herself but terrified for Moynier, who obstinately refused to cooperate with the police to save his own hide.  This chapter juxtaposes material from the police perspective with letters and entries from Annie Mourraille’s diary to show how Annie, the fox, tried to outsmart Chenevier and charm him into supporting her cause.  We also see Chenevier, the hound, ever the canny and chivalrous police officer, willing to play Mourraille’s game but determined to follow the scent to Vichy.  Meanwhile, Roger Mouraille, aware that Vichy had abandoned him, also began to implicate Vichy in the crime, all the while maintaining his own innocence.  The police, however, were becoming aware of what a dangerous man, perhaps the most dangerous of all the assassins, Roger Mouraille actually was . . .

 

Chapter 11            Vichy, Paris and Marseille: Inspector Chenevier Cracks the Case                 

This chapter picks up in March of 1942, with the assassins in still prison and Chenevier finally able to interrogate first Gabriel Jeantet and then Eugène Deloncle, thanks to Annie Mourraille’s testimony.  It juxtaposes those interrogations, which unfolded like a complex game of cat and mouse, with another, similar struggle, this one between the imprisoned assassins and Judge Marion in Montélimar, as the prisoners and their lawyers maneuvered to try either to obtain their release or to force the judge to convert their prison status and conditions from that of common criminals to that of political prisoners.  On August 29, 1942, they finally managed to get transferred to the less rigorous prison of Largentière.  We will see how Roger Mouraille and Antoine Marchi managed to get released and the daring escape attempt from Largentière of the remaining three, Annie Mourraille, Ludovic Guichard, and Yves Moynier, in October of 1942, probably with the help of Roger Mouraille outside the prison. The chapter ends with the failure of that escape attempt and the stalemate between Chenevier and Vichy.  Meanwhile, the Germans invaded the Vichy Zone at the beginning of April, 1942 . . .

 

Chapter 12            Largentière: The Gestapo and the Warden

This chapter uses the testimony of the Warden at Largentière to recount how Hugo Geissler, the head of the Gestapo in the Vichy zone, arrived at the prison and threatened to blow it up with all the occupants unless the Warden released the three remaining Dormoy assassins.  The Warden attempted to hold him off but ultimately was forced to comply, and Geissler drove away with Annie Mourraille sitting next to him in his Mercedes.  This chapter ends with Geissler’s arrest of Charles Chenevier in November of 1943 and Chenevier’s torture, interrogation, and deportation to Neuengamme.

 

Chapter 13            Paris and Pau: Collaboration and Crime         

This chapter covers the career of the assassins from their release in 1943 through the end of the war.  All became collaborators with the Germans.  Annie Mourraille married Yves Moynier and they resided in an apartment in Paris in the same building as Joseph Darnand’s wife.  They attended parties chez Eugène Deloncle, who introduced Annie Mourraille to guests as “the woman who assassinated Dormoy.”  Roger Mourraille went to work for the Gestapo, and he and Yves Moynier formed a team of thugs with German credentials who “policed” the region between Pau and Bordeaux by extorting money, gems, antiques, and works of art from Jewish refugees in Vichy in return for not having them deported to concentration camps.  Guichard returned to Marseille, where he too went to work for the Germans and gained a reputation as a dangerous informer responsible for the deportation of numerous persons.  This chapter ends just prior to the Liberation of France.

 

Chapter 14            Barcelona, Baden-Baden, and Venezuela:        Exile for the Assassins

Chapter 14 begins with the liberation of Paris and the flight of the Dormoy assassins, most of whom ended up in Spanish territory, not only because Spain had no extradition treaty with France, but because they, and especially Roger Mouraille, had forged ties in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.  Mouraille’s trajectory is especially interesting, because he took refuge in Barcelona, where he expected a safe and comfortable retirement, but the Spanish government unexpectedly arrested him and turned him over to the Americans.  He attempted to flee his American captors by leaping off the train bringing him to France, but broke both his legs, was recaptured, and was interrogated by the Americans at Baden-Baden in Germany.  Subsequently Mouraille somehow regained his freedom and returned to Barcelona where he appears to have spent the remainder of his life.  This chapter will follow the trail of the assassins to exile after the war.

 

Chapter 15            Paris :  Judge Lévy Takes Over the Case and Chenevier Returns to France                                

Chapter 15 also picks up at the liberation, but from a different perspective.  Immediately after the Liberation, the new French government reopened the dormant investigation of the Dormoy assassination, in part due to pressure from Dormoy’s sister, Jeanne Dormoy, but largely due to a desire to strengthen the case against Pétain, Laval, and the collaborators based in Vichy and Paris.  Judge Marion of Montélimar initially was in charge, but soon the case was transferred to Paris and put under the aegis of Judge Robert Lévy, whose interest in the case seems primarily to have derived from a desire to tie Dormoy’s assassination to the Cagoule.  Meanwhile, in June of 1945 Charles Chenevier returned from Neuengamme and on August 10 he received the Croix de Guerre.  Nevertheless, Chenevier became the target of the Purge Commission, accused of being a collaborator during the war.  As a result, Chenevier was forced to wage a battle that lasted until 1948 before he was able to return to his job at the Sûreté Nationale.  Besides the personal toll this took on Chenevier, one consequence of this tragic turn of events was that although Chenevier was able to testify before Judge Lévy regarding his role in the investigation in 1941 and 1942, he was not able to take an active part in the reopened investigation of 1945-1947.  The case was turned over to police investigators unfamiliar with the earlier investigation and this very likely hindered them from moving quickly enough to apprehend the assassins before they were able to escape Paris.  This chapter will cover Judge Lévy’s investigation and Chenevier’s struggle to rehabilitate his reputation and return to work at the Sûreté.

 

Chapter 16            Montluçon:  A Sister’s Quest for Justice                       

This chapter picks up the story with the outcome of Judge Lévy’s investigation.  On August 14, 1947, the police issued a 33-page report that summed up the case and recommended that Annie Mourraille, Yves Moynier, Roger Mouraille, Antoine Marchi, and Ludovic Guichard be indicted for murder and warrants for their arrest be issued.  Of course they were all, except for Marchi, safely out of the reach of French justice, in Spain or, in the case of Guichard, Venezuela.  Marchi was in a prison hospital in Paris loudly proclaiming his activities as a member of the Resistance.  The police concluded that they lacked the evidence to charge Gabriel Jeantet, and Eugène Deloncle was dead.  There is no mention of Herard’s whereabouts.  Thus only Marchi actually faced trial in 1948 for his role in the assassination.  From this point on, it was up to Jeanne Dormoy, her faithful supporter and lawyer André Blumel, and Léon Blum to fight to keep Dormoy’s memory alive and the case against the assassins open.

 

Chapter 17            Conclusion:  Did the Trail Lead to Paris . . .   Or Vichy?                 

In the conclusion we sum up by explaining why we believe that ex-Cagoulards in Paris and Vichy, while on opposite sides regarding the issue of collaboration with the Germans, most definitely collaborated with each other to eliminate Dormoy, primarily because Dormoy knew too much about their activities before the war.  It is here that we will discuss the significance of the briefcase that Dormoy brought with him to Vichy, that the police confiscated as evidence and opened in the presence of Judge Marion and M. Franchetti, the lawyer for several of the defendants, on February 27, 1942.  That briefcase contained over a hundred documents from the period 1937-1938 and clearly contained the results of Dormoy’s investigation of the Cagoule.  We will also discuss the larger historical significance of Dormoy, his career and his assassination, the activities of Jeantet and Deloncle, and the collaboration between Vichy and the extreme right based in Paris via the activities of the ex-Cagoulards on either side of the Line of Demarcation. 

 

Epilogue: Resurrecting Marx Dormoy

The epilogue offers analytical insight into the authors’ quest to trace Dormoy’s career, visit the sites of his life, and search for the documents tied to his murder.  Dormoy was a very important political figure, but he is remembered today more for the metro stop named for him in the great Paris Métropolitain system than for his real achievements.  Dormoy fought a major fight, however, against the forces of the right in his rejection of antisemitism, the armistice, collaboration, and Pétain’s government.  His wartime assassination and the post-war tendency to overlook many Vichy crimes denied him the recognition he really deserves.  Thus this chapter resurrects Dormoy as a key political figure in French history and contextualizes Jeanne Dormoy’s tenacious and valiant quest for justice that endured until her own death.  We leave the reader with the sense that the book begins where Jeanne Dormoy left off and succeeds in bringing a certain amount a closure to his horrible and untimely death.