The World at War


André Dewavrin

French Soldier

Born: June 9, 1911 at Paris
Died: December 21,1998

     A graduate of the Polytechnique, Dewavrin began his career as a professor at Saint Cyr in 1938. He received his Captain's commission when war was declared in 1939 and volunteered for the Norway expedition in April 1940. Dewavrin was returning from Narvik when he heard the broadcast of Petain's call for an armistice. He immediately decided to join de Gaulle in London rather than continue his trip home.

     De Gaulle put the 29 year old captain in charge of intelligence and special operations. Dewavrin, codenamed "Passy", built a network of 350 special agents. He traveled to occupied France to meet with the Resistance and coordinate intelligence gathering and sabotage activities. Dewavrin, like his agents, usually parachuted in at night. His organization, the BCRA, was a frequent target of British charges that it was a haven for right-wing extremists but Dewavrin managed to deflect most of the criticism. He was made a Compagnon de la Liberation by de Gaulle in 1943.

     Dewavrin became Chief of Staff to the Commander of the French Forces of the Interior, General Koenig, took charge of FFI operations in Brittany after the Normandy landings and served in that capacity until the end of the war.

     He was head of intelligence for the provisional government from May 1945 until de Gaulle's resignation in January 1946.

     Dewavrin was accused by his successor of embezzling the intelligence bureau's secret reserve funds and putting them in overseas accounts. He was arrest and spent several months in prison at Vincennes before the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

     Dewavrin spent his remaining years in private business and was a fervent supporter of Francois Mitterand. Premier Jospin commenting on Dewavrin's death in 1998 noted,"His anger in the fight against the enemy, for the liberation of the national territory and the reestablishment of the Republic made him the living incarnation of the Resistance."

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