Memory and Justice Abused: The 1949 trial of René Bousquet

Richard J. Golsan
1999 Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature  
On the morning of June 8, 1993, one Christian Didier arrived at 34 rue Raphael, a posh apartment building in Paris's sixteenth arrondissement and the residence of René Bousquet, former head of Vichy police... This article is available in Studies in 20th Century Literature: http://newprairiepress.org/sttcl/vol23/iss1/7 one Christian Didier arrived at 34 rue Raphael, a posh apartment building in Paris's sixteenth arrondissement and the residence of Rene Bousquet, former head of Vichy police.
more » ... Vichy police. Claiming to be a messenger from the Ministry of the Interior bearing important documents concerning Bousquet's imminent trial for crimes against humanity, Didier was admitted into the building. After climbing the stairs, Didier knocked on Bousquet's door and was greeted by Bousquet himself. On the pretext of removing the documents in question, Didier reached into his bag and extracted a revolver. According to his own account, he then shot Bousquet four times at point blank-range, three times in the abdomen and once in the head. The four shots were necessary, Didier explained, because the first few shots failed to slow Bousquet, who advanced on his assailant, called him a bastard, and tried to hit him. After the murder, Didier exited the building, crossed the Ranelagh Gardens and took the metro at La Muette. From there, he traveled to a small hotel at Lilas on the outskirts of Paris. He then called members of the press, whom he regaled with accounts of the murder. In justifying his crime, Didier stated that "[Bousquet] incarnated evil," whereas he himself "incarnated good." He likened his crime to "killing a serpent."' The murder of Rene Bousquet in the summer of 1993 brought to a dramatic conclusion one of the most troubling and significant episodes of the Vichy syndrome, that disturbing afterlife of les armies noires in contemporary France. But as commentators were quick to point out, Bousquet's death was as premature and frustrating in historical terms as it was spectacular. Rene Bousquet had come to
doi:10.4148/2334-4415.1456 fatcat:ixtzrtfnejgzlage4m2yrl3sga