Guillaume Piketty

Pierre Brossolette A Hero of the French Resistance Publication date : January 1, 1998

Pierre Brossolette is one of the major figures in the history of the French Resistance. He became one of its icons in the collective memory when he committed suicide on March 22, 1944, at the age of forty, following his arrest and interrogation by the Gestapo.
His renown is well deserved, and his contribution to the Resistance is unique. As a member of the group of the `Musée de l'Homme,' which he joined in the winter of 1940-1941, and, later, as an agent for the brotherhood of Notre-Dame under Colonel Rémy, he was an active member in the pioneering days of the Resistance in the northern zone. In the autumn of 1942, he became the second-in-command of the Bureau central de renseignement et d'action (BCRA), which was both the nerve centre of the intelligence services and the armed wing of the Gaullists in London. At the beginning of 1943, he took part with Colonel Passy in the mission known as `Arquebuse-Brumaire' which was responsible for organising the Resistance in the northern zone. On his return to London, Brossolette became director of the secret services of France's fighting forces. He was sent to France on a new mission, but he was arrested in Brittany during a routine identity check. In circumstances that remain unclear and which Piketty examines, Brossolette was identified by the Gestapo. Taken to Paris and tortured, he jumped out of a window to escape further interrogation.
Basing his research on numerous unpublished documents, Piketty traces Brossolette's life, showing how the brilliant young intellectual of the 1920s and renowned journalist of the 1930s became, in the course of the darkest years of the century, one of the key minds in the resistance struggle. The author reveals the difficulties Brossolette encountered, his doubts and hesitations, as well as the ardour of a fighter who loved above all to live life to the full. The author also brings to light the violent conflicts that pitted Brossolette against Colonel Rémy,
Emmanuel d'Astier de la Vigerie, Jean Moulin, and even Charles de Gaulle.
Guillaume Piketty is Registrar of the Institut d'études politiques in Paris, and is himself a graduate of the Institut.