Bousquet, René

18 November, 2007

The son of a radical notary from Montauban, René Bousquet became head of the cabinet of the Tarn-et-Garonne préfet at the early age of 21. After this impressive start, he quickly pursued his career at the Interior Ministry. The new head of government, Pierre Laval, noticed Bousquet in 1935. He then continued his career in the Sûreté Nationale (national police force) before becoming préfet of the département of Marne in September 1940, during the first few weeks of the new Vichy regime’s existence. The return to power of his mentor, Laval in April 1942 permitted his nomination to the post of Secretary-general of Police, as the former had officially retained control of the Interior Ministry. Bousquet had both substantial autonomy to act, and talent. He immediately sought to secure the trust and collaboration of the German representatives, but he also strove to guarantee French sovereignty in all issues. As early as summer 1942, his negotiations with the Nazi police services led to the “Bousquet-Oberg Accords,” which were renewed in April 1943. This agreement gave Vichy a considerable degree of responsibility in the German repression, and especially in the implementation of the “Final Solution.” Serge Klarsfeld’s research demonstrated, amongst other aspects, that Bousquet personally suggested turning the foreign Jews detained in the “free zone” over to the Germans, in return for the illusory sheltering of French Jews in the medium-term (S. Klarsfeld, 1983-2001). Finally, as the Allies proved more and more militarily successful, the Germans requested Bousquet’s replacement in December 1943, as he had become too timorous. He was even arrested on June 9, 1944 and taken to Germany. This end to his career, along with ignorance of his responsibility on the part of the Haute Cour de Justice (which was composed of parliamentarians, and tried persons accused of high treason), resulted in his condemnation to the relatively light sentenced of five years of dégradation nationale (literally “national degradation,” which meant being stripped of certain civil rights) in June 1949. The sentence was immediately lifted due to his “active participation in the Resistance.” Bousquet started another career in the private sector, working for the Banque de l’Indochine. In 1991 he was charged with crimes against humanity, but his assassination on June 8, 1993 put an end to the case (P. Froment, 1994).

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, Bousquet, René, Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 18 November, 2007, accessed 17/05/2021,, ISSN 1961-9898
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