French Intelligence in World War II

L - Z

Laurent, Sébastien.

1. "The Free French Secret Services: Intelligence and the Politics of Republican Legitimacy." Intelligence and National Security 15, no. 4 (Winter 2000): 19-41.

"[T]he war brought a fundamental modification to the French intelligence community. The SDECE [Service de Documentation Extérieur et de Contre-Espionnage] came under the authority of the French Council of Ministers, whereas the pre-war [services] had been responsible to the military high command."

2. "Renseignement militaire et action politique: le BCRA et les services spéciaux de l'armée d'armistice." In Le renseignement à la française, ed. Pierre Lacoste, 79-100. Paris: Economica, 1998.

Marshall, Jonathan. "Jean Laurent and the Bank of Indochina Circle: Business Networks, Intelligence Operations and Political Intrigues in Wartime France." Journal of Intelligence History 8, no. 2 (Winter 2008-2009). []

May, Ernest R. Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France. New York: Hill and Wang, 2000.

Adams, IJI&C 14.3, finds that the author "persuasively establish[es] the pivotal role played by intelligence in France's sudden and ignominious collapse in 1940." For May, Germany's massive panzer attack through the Ardennes forest is a "classic example of intelligence surprise." He points to "severe flaws in the methods used in Allied intelligence collection and analysis, and large gaps between this information and the key decisionmakers." On the other side, May sees a "close integration of intelligence with the German high command."

For Bath, NIPQ 18.1, May's "research is impressive, combining as it does material on German and French intelligence, rather than treating each separately as had been done previously. The result is a clear and authoritative study."

Naftali, Timothy J. "De Gaulle's Pique and the Allied Counterespionage Triangle in World War II." In In the Name of Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Walter Pforzheimer, eds. Hayden B. Peake and Samuel Halpern, 379-410. Washington, DC: NIBC Press, 1994.

Paillole, Paul [Col.].

1. Services spéciaux [?sèciaux], 1935-1945. Paris: Robert Laffont, 1975. Fighting the Nazis: French Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 1935-1945. New York: Enigma, 2003.

Porch, I&NS 2.1, sees this work as offering "a frank and revealing glimpse into the workings of the service de renseignement, the counter-espionage section of the military Deuxième bureau from 1935 to 1945." For Peake, Studies 48.1, this "is a tale of French political maneuvering as much as counterespionage operations." Nonetheless, the author's "asiduous application and articulation of counterintelligence principles demonstrate their universality while making clear that it is the people who make the difference."

2. Notre espion chez Hitler. Paris: Robert Laffont, 1985.

Porch, I&NS 2.1, notes that the title subject of this work is "Hans Schmidt, code named H.E. or Asché..., employee in the German code and cipher section, who provided the French with much useful information between 1932 and the Fall of France in 1940, most notably on the development of the Enigma codes." The author has "the disconcerting habit of reproducing verbatim conversations at which he could not possibly have been present.... [I]t is difficult to be certain where fact leaves off and fiction takes over.... In a word, Monsieur Paillole's book needs to be read with great caution."

3. with Alain-Gilles Minella. L'homme des services secrets. Paris: Julliard, 1995.

According to Pennetier, I&NS 11.4, Paillole worked in the German counter-espionage section of the Deuxième bureau prior to World War II. As opposed to his earlier two books, this work "deals much more with wartime and especially on how ... pre-war intelligence services continued their work throughout most of the occupation of France."

Porch, Douglas.

1. "French Intelligence and the Fall of France, 1930-40." Intelligence and National Security 4, no. 1 (Jan. 1989): 28-58.

Porch swims against the received tide of praise for French intelligence in the prewar years. He states: "Despite the praise lavished on the pre-war French intelligence, its organization and lack of influence was almost bound to condemn it to incoherence in the collection of information, and confusion in assessing the threat to France."

2. "Why Did France Fall?" MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History 2, no. 3 (Spring 1990): 30-41.

Intelligence is not the focus of this article. However, the author notes that "Gamelin's detractors, among them French intelligence officer Paul Paillole [see above], have accused the general of ignoring intelligence reports predicting a German thrust through the Ardennes. However, a close examination of the evidence suggests that the Deuxième Bureau ... did not speak with a clear voice on German intentions."

Stead, Philip John. Second Bureau. London: Evans Brothers, 1959.

Clark comment: Formed after the French lost the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, the Deuxième Bureau is the intelligence section of the French Army's General Staff. Acording to Pforzheimer, this book is a "history of the regular French military intelligence service during World War II." Constantinides notes that the focus on regular French military intelligence is seen by some critics as a bias in favor of the "professionals against the 'amateurs' under Jacques Soustelle."

Thomas, Martin. "France in British Signals Intelligence, 1939-1945." French History 14, no. 1 (2000), 41-66.

Thomas, Martin. "Signals Intelligence and Vichy France, 1940-44: Intelligence in Defeat." Intelligence and National Security 14, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 176-200.

French Sigint continued as a Vichy activity after the armistice agreements with the Axis powers in June 1940 until the unoccupied zone was overrun in November 1942. Codebreaking activities were diverse with attention paid to threats against both metropolitan and overseas France.

Walter, Gerard. Paris Under the Occupation. New York: Orion, 1960.

Kirkus Review: "A documentary of this beleaguered city is accomplished through press clippings from various and obviously suspect newspapers through the years 1940-1944, and along with the author's interpretation and evaluation, they show how the population was treated and how it reacted during this time.... [I]t is a background book substantiating and personalizing this grim interval -- but of unlikely interest for a general audience."

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