Assassination in Vichy: Marx Dormoy and the Struggle for the Soul of France
During the night of 25 July 1941, assassins planted a time bomb in the bed of former French Interior Minister Marx Dormoy. The explosion on the morning of 26 July launched a two-year investigation that traced Dormoy’s murder to the highest echelons of the Vichy regime. Dormoy, who had led a 1937 investigation into the "Cagoule," a violent ultra-right-wing terrorist organization, was the victim of a captivating revenge plot.
Based on the meticulous examination of thousands of documents, Assassination in Vichy tells the story of Dormoy’s murder and of the investigation, led by courageous Police Superintendent Charles Chenevier, who persisted despite opposition from both Vichy and collaborationists in Paris. A book about France’s deep political divisions, wartime choices, and post-war memory, Assassination in Vichy explores the impact of fascist extremism on France’s history.
At the heart of this book lies the investigation of a true crime that was sensational in its day but overshadowed by the war. It is a microhistory that also tells a larger and more significant story about the development of far-right political movements, domestic terrorism, and the importance of courage.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 328 pages
- Illustrations: 20
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
"This is a riveting account of an overlooked episode in the history of the French Occupation. The authors act at once as historians and detectives, piecing together the tragic final act of Marx Dormoy's life and the conspiracy of fascist terrorists responsible for his killing, while demonstrating why scholars of France should care about this story. This accomplished and intelligent work is the perfect sequel to the authors’ much-admired previous book on the Cagoule."
Chris Millington, Manchester Metropolitan University
"Assassination in Vichy provides a strong and compelling examination of the continuation of the Cagoule’s intrigues and machinations into the 1940s, and places these within the larger context of factional rivalry within the Vichy Regime. Brunelle and Finley-Croswhite use their story to explore the difficulties for the French in coming to terms with the memories of Vichy and France’s role in the Second World War."
William Cormack, University of Guelph
"An engrossing read from start to finish, Assassination in Vichy revisits the grisly murder of a neglected but vital defender of France’s Third Republic. Attentive to the fraught character of wartime justice, this book combines first-rate sleuthing and masterful portraits of its subjects – ranging from Marx Dormoy himself to his killers, and the officials who tracked them – with sophisticated analysis of the historical context. For those concerned about far-right threats to democracy, this is a vital study."
Sean Kennedy, University of New Brunswick
Author InformationGayle K. Brunelle is a professor emeritus at California State University, Fullerton.
Annette Finley-Croswhite is a professor of History and director of the Center for Faculty Development at Old Dominion University.
Table of contents
July 26, 1941: Explosion
1. 1888–1941: Marx Dormoy and the Soul of France
2. 1941: A Long, Hot Summer
3. July 26–30, 1941: Anatomy of a Crime Scene
4. August 14, 1941: A Bombing in Nice
5. 1941: Recruiting the Assassins
6. August–October 1941: The Net Widens
7. October 1941–March 1942: The Waiting Game
8. April 18, 1942: The Return of Pierre Laval
9. January 23, 1943: German Intervention
10. August 26, 1944: Liberation
Today: The Legacy of Marx Dormoy
Subjects and Courses