Carlingue

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Commemorative plaque at rue Lauriston in tribute to the victims of the French Gestapo. The plaque was removed during construction work in April 2014 and replaced with new sign with the far less specific "Hommage aux héros de la Résistance 1940-1944" written upon it. By July 2015, the sign was again replaced with the original text, as it now (July 2016) stands.
The current (July 2016) memorial plaque at 93, rue Lauriston in Paris.

The Carlingue (or French Gestapo) were French auxiliaries who worked for the Gestapo, Sicherheitsdienst and Geheime Feldpolizei during the occupation of France in the Second World War. The group, which was based at 93, rue Lauriston in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, was active between 1941 and 1944. It was founded by Pierre Bonny, a corrupt ex-policeman. Later it was jointly led by Henri Lafont and Pierre Loutrel, two professional criminals that had been active in the French underworld before the war. Like the paramilitary Milice, a large cadre of the group were recruited from criminal elements within French society.

Names[edit]

Carlingue in French means the cabin or central body of an aircraft. The unit used this as a euphemistic nickname to indicate it was an organisation, with structure and strength. However externally the group was also known as the Bonny-Lafont gang after Pierre Bonny and Henri Lafont.

Despite the colloquial names, the Reich Main Security Office (RHSA) officially referred to the Carlingue as Active Group Hesse after the SS officer "who'd looked after its foundation".[1] It was also known as the Gestapo française or the Bande de la Rue Lauriston.

History[edit]

The unit was formed in 1941 by the RSHA. Its purpose was to conduct counter insurgency operations against the Maquis in occupied France and the Vichy Regime. The Carlingue recruited its members from the same criminal milieu as that of its leaders. Both Henri Lafont and Pierre Loutrel (alias Pierrot le fou (Crazy Pete)) were gangsters in the Parisian underworld before the war. Another member, an ex-cop named Pierre Bonny, had been wanted by the French authorities for misappropriation of funds and selling influence in the Seznec and Stavisky Affairs. Many others in the Carlingue were from the disbanded North African Brigades. The criminal nature of the organisation gave it access to contacts such as informers, corrupt officials, and disreputable business leaders such as Joseph Joanovici. Members were also active in the black market.

According to retired policeman Henri Longuechaud, "one might be scandalised by the numbers of 30,000 to 32,000 sometimes quoted [as members of the Carlingue]. In Paris, when the Germans launched a recruitment drive for 2,000 auxiliary policeman in their service, they received no fewer than 6,000 candidates."[2][3]

In January and February 1944, the Carlingue, as members of the paramilitary Légion North-Africaine (LNA) under the command of Alexandre Villaplane, wore German uniforms to fight the French Resistance in the area around Tulle, central France.

Following the liberation of France in 1944, members of the Carlingue went into hiding but many were caught, tried and condemned to death but some evaded arrest. One former Carlingue agent, Georges Boucheseiche, who died in Morocco in 1967, was employed by Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage, France's post-war external intelligence agency.

In August 2014, the government of Paris ordered the current owners of 93, rue Lauriston to restore the memorial plaque to the former headquarters of the Carlingue.[4]

Notable members[edit]

  • Paul Carbone, wounded and later died in a train crash in 1943.
  • Georges Pujol, a former resistance fighter who turned double agent for the Gestapo, arrested in August 1944 and shot.
  • Henri Lafont , executed at Fort Montrouge 26 December 1944
  • Alexandre Villaplane executed at Fort Montrouge 27 December 1944.
  • Clairé, executed at Fort Montrouge 27 December 1944.
  • Engel, executed at Fort Montrouge 27 December 1944.
  • Hare, executed at Fort Montrouge 27 December 1944.
  • Louis "Eddy" Pagnon, a member of the North African Brigade, executed at Fort Montrouge on 27 December 1944.
  • Pierre Bonny , sentenced to death and shot 29 December 1944.
  • Charles Delval, executed in the courtyard of the Fresnes prison in February 1945.
  • Ganioles executed at Fort Montrouge 24 June 1946.
  • Jourdan executed at Fort Montrouge 13 July 1946.
  • Marcel Buat, sentenced to death in June 1946 and executed at Versailles 12 August 1946.
  • Pierre Loutrel, died on November 6, 1946, five days after being shot in the bladder during a robbery at a Parisian jewellery store on avenue Kléber.
  • Georges Delfanne aka Christian Masuy was a Belgian collaborator who dismantled several SOE networks. He was arrested in Germany in 1945, returned to France and shot October 1, 1947 at Fort Montrouge.
  • Bernard Fallot, executed at Fort Montrouge on 1 October 1947.
  • Maurice Bay, executed on 5 May 1950.
  • Abel Danos , shot March 13, 1952.
  • Raymond Monange, an officer from the North African Brigade, shot on 13 March 1952 at Fort Montrouge.
  • François Spirito, a Franco-Italian Mafioso who fled to New York after the war but was deported back to France. He was charged with collaboration in 1952 but was never put on trial. He worked for the French Connection. He died in Toulon on 9 October 1967.

While not a member per se, infamous serial killer Dr Marcel Petiot was closely associated with Carlingue. The house in which he murdered his victims was located in the same street and was sometimes used for Carlingue victims. Conversely, Lafont helped Petiot escape arrest.

Media portrayals[edit]

  • Louis Malle's 1974 film, Lacombe Lucien, features characters based on the Bonny-LaFont gang.[5]
  • In 2004, a made-for-television film was produced about the Carlingue, entitled 93, rue Lauriston. Although fictional, it was inspired by historic events and featured Lafont and Bonny as figures of the time.
  • Patrick Modiano, French winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for literature, has written several novels set in occupied Paris during the war years, mysteries of memory and alienation related to his exploration of his own father's activities as a black marketeer.[6][7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ King, David (2011). The City of Death. Crown. p. 142. 
  2. ^ Longuechaud, Henri. Conformément à l’ordre de nos chefs. p. 58. 
  3. ^ Rajsfus, Maurice (1995). La Police de Vichy. Les forces de l'ordre françaises au service de la Gestapo. 1940/1944. Le Cherche Midi éditeur. p. 51. On peut être scandalisé par le chiffre de 30 000 à 32 000 souvent avancé [comme effectifs de la Carlingue]. À Paris, lorsque l’occupant lance un avis de recrutement pour 2 000 policiers auxiliaires à son service, il aurait reçu pas moins de 6 000 candidatures 
  4. ^ "Paris WW2 plaque to be restored on 'house of shame'". BBC News. 3 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Interview of historian Pierre Laborie in the French DVD's extras, Arte Video.
  6. ^ Alan Riding, "In Search of the Irrevocable", New York Times, December 2014
  7. ^ Schwartz, Alexandra (9 October 2014). "Patrick Modiano's Postwar World". The New Yorker. Retrieved 9 October 2014.