Deuxième Bureau

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The Deuxième Bureau (German second office ) was the French military foreign intelligence service founded in 1871 as the second department of the General Staff , which had to pursue the reconnaissance of potentially or acutely enemy armies.


At the time of the Third Republic (1870–1940), the French secret service was divided into two traditional departments: The Premier Bureau informed the General Staff about the status of French and allied troops. The Deuxième Bureau briefed the staff on military opponents and comprised the intelligence services of all three branches of service : army , navy and later the air force . The intelligence service worked closely with the Service de Renseignement , which was responsible for counter-espionage and counter- espionage .

The Deuxième Bureau was headed between 1886 and 1895 by Colonel Jean Sandherr , who was followed from 1895 to 1896 by Georges Picquart , who was replaced by Joseph Hubert Henry from 1897 to 1898 . The department was involved in the Dreyfus affair in 1894, which brought them into serious disrepute. In May 1899, the French government therefore transferred responsibility for counter-espionage to the Sûreté , which was subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior .

From 1913 to 1917 the Deuxième Bureau was headed by Colonel Charles Joseph Dupont (1863-1935), in 1917 and 1918 by Colonel Edmond de Cointet (1870-1948).

The Deuxième Bureau was from 1937 to 1940 under the direction of Colonel Maurice-Henri Gauché (1889-1958), an infantry officer of the First World War from Normandy . Since the intelligence service was not well respected in the French army at that time and was largely not included in military planning, the Deuxième Bureau was very successful in collecting militarily relevant information by listening to encrypted radio communications ( he was famous for his cryptographic successes), military and military diplomatic services, observation of German and Italian ship movements in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean, observation of German reconnaissance aircraft over French, Belgian and Dutch territory, smuggling of agents, etc., but was not able to evaluate the information collected and on on this basis to provide recommendations for action for one's own military planning and strategy. He only used the beginning of the war to increase the number of his employees and the castles used by his organization outside Paris.

The army intelligence service, Service de Renseignement Guerre (SR Guerre), had a certain special position, as it was in the War Ministry at the side of the Deuxième Bureau under the direction of Colonel Louis Rivet (1883-1958) in the Hôtel des Invalides on 2bis, Avenue de Tourville resided and since the 1930s, on the eve of World War II, had maintained agent networks mainly in Germany , Italy and the Soviet Union . This gave him a not inconsiderable flow of militarily relevant information that he shared with the cooperating Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).

Second World War

After the division of the General Staff on January 6, 1940 , the number of employees in the Deuxième Bureau was reduced to almost half and Colonel Rivet came to head the Deuxième Bureau . After the defeat of France in June 1940, the Deuxième Bureau was officially dissolved, but actually moved to the unoccupied southern zone. The SR Guerre and the SR Air, led by Colonel Georges Ronin , took the position, contrary to the official line of the Vichy regime, which was in fact collaborating with Nazi Germany , that the war was only temporarily interrupted. Since it was neither finished nor decided, a resumption of fighting would be possible, in which the Axis powers are opponents and the British are allies. It corresponded to the professional self-image that the restoration of military honor was the goal and basis of one's own actions. In contrast, the SR Marine, relocated to Maintenon and now serving as the center d'information gouvernemental (CIG) under the command of Admiral François Darlans , took the position of collaborators.

After a two-month vote with the occupying powers, the Service des Menées Antinationales (Service MA) was launched on August 25, 1940, under the leadership of Commandant Guy d'Alès , whose official task was to advance the 100,000-strong French armistice army protect British, Communist and Gaullist infiltration, fight the Resistance and collect news about Great Britain and the Soviet Union . The SMA then became notorious for its brutal crackdown on the Resistance.

The vast majority of Rivets SR Guerre went underground as the Bureau des Menées Antinationales : The counter-espionage MA 3 resided disguised as part of the Ministry of Agriculture under the code name Travaux ruraux (TR) together with its huge archive under the direction of Paul Paillole in the Villa Eole in Marseille . The intelligence service MA 1, which controlled the agent network, had moved into the Villa des Songes in Vichy . The radio and decryption department MA 2 under the command of General Gustave Bertrand was housed in the Château des Fouzes (Cadix) near Uzès .

While Polish decryption specialists had already exchanged their knowledge with their French colleagues at the Pyry meeting before the outbreak of war , some of them managed to get to France after the German invasion of Poland . Together with Czech and Spanish colleagues, they had copied four additional Enigma machines and bugged the radio communications of the German occupiers. In addition, Rivets intelligence service had started to set up an economic database (Fichier économique) in Lyon . An agent school (école de SR interarmée) was also maintained at the same location.

Rivets secret service collected the mood and supply of the French population in the occupied zones, industrial production and raw material stocks , arms production , troop and ship movements, transport routes of the occupiers, fortification works, depots , armament, reserves, casualties and morale from a multitude of domestic and foreign sources Occupying powers. The informants that were skimmed off also included returning prisoners of war, those obliged to work and those who participated in the war on the Eastern Front . In 1942, MA 1 succeeded in bugging the PTT telephone cables Paris-Metz-Berlin and Paris-Strasbourg (Source K) unnoticed for six months. The changing Enigma keys of the Germans could initially be cracked by Polish specialists in Uzès by mechanical-mathematical means faster than their colleagues in Bletchley Park managed to do with the Turing bomb . This information was passed on not only to the services of the Vichy regime, but also to the longstanding contacts of the British SIS. From 1942 the American secret service OSS in Vichy, Marseille, North Africa (Colonel William Alfred Eddy ) and Bern ( Allen Dulles ) began to establish contacts with Rivets employees.

In his controversial memoir, Rivet went so far as to ascribe his secret service a collaboration with the Resistance . It is unclear whether he is referring to the temporary activity of Henri Frenay in the Abwehr, who later headed the Resistance group Combat , or to the attitude of many members of the armistice army, which after its dissolution by the occupying forces went underground as the Armée secrète had gone.

Through these contacts, Rivets organization was informed of the target and approximate date of Operation Torch . When Pétain officially dissolved the BMA in August 1942, the archives, radios and Enigma machines were relocated to Algiers in good time, so that after the Anglo-Americans began landing in North Africa, they were withdrawn from the Germans who moved to the previously unoccupied southern zone at the end of November 1942 indented ( Anton company ). Paillole moved to Algiers , where he continued his secret activities in connection with the remnants of his networks in the motherland as TR and TR jeune. At the same time he founded the Service Sécurité Militaire .

The Gaullist secret service BCRA

With the establishment of the National Committee for Free France in London , based on the model of the Deuxième Bureau, a separate secret service was founded under the direction of André Dewavrin , the Bureau Central de Renseignements et d'Action (BCRA). There were thus two French intelligence services that fought each other: the BMA for Vichy and the BCRA of its Gaullist war opponent, with anti-German and German-friendly directions facing each other within the services of Vichy.

With the establishment of the Comité francais de la Libération National (CFLN) when approaching Giraud - de Gaulle was 1943 SR Rivet with the BCRA by Dewavrin to a new structure, the Direction générale des services spéciaux (DGSS) together. Louis Rivet resigned in opposition to this merger of the services that had been fighting each other shortly before.

After it became known in April 1944 that De Gaulle's competitor General Giraud had created exclusive access to information on the DGSS, the DGSS was reorganized and renamed the Direction générale des études et recherches (DGER). This was replaced in 1945 by the Service de documentation extérieur et de contre-espionnage (SDECE, Service for foreign documentation and counter-espionage), from which the current French foreign intelligence service, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) emerged in 1982 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Franz Knipping: Réseaux and Mouvements in the French Resistance 1940-1945. In: Gerhard Schulz (ed.): Secret services and resistance movements in the Second World War. Göttingen 1982, ISBN 3-525-01327-2 , p. 108.
  2. Jean-Yves Brunon: Jean Brunon ( Memento of the original of November 27, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Ministère de la Defense, Service Historique de la Defense. État des fonds privés . Château de Vincennes. 2006. Volume 1, p. 92.
  4. ^ Ernest R. May: Intelligence services and defeat of France 1940. In: Wolfgang Krieger (Ed.): Secret services in the world history. Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-50248-2 , p. 175 ff.
  5. Franz Knipping: Réseaux and Mouvements in the French Resistance 1940-1945. In: Gerhard Schulz (ed.): Secret services and resistance movements in the Second World War. Göttingen 1982, ISBN 3-525-01327-2 , p. 110 f.
  6. Franz Knipping: Réseaux and Mouvements in the French Resistance 1940-1945. In: Gerhard Schulz (ed.): Secret services and resistance movements in the Second World War. Göttingen 1982, ISBN 3-525-01327-2 , p. 111 f.
  7. Franz Knipping: Réseaux and Mouvements in the French Resistance 1940-1945. In: Gerhard Schulz (ed.): Secret services and resistance movements in the Second World War. Göttingen 1982, ISBN 3-525-01327-2 , p. 112 f.
  8. ^ A b Franz Knipping: Réseaux and Mouvements in the French Resistance 1940-1945. In: Gerhard Schulz (ed.): Secret services and resistance movements in the Second World War. Göttingen 1982, ISBN 3-525-01327-2 , p. 114.