The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists


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Bonnot Gang

Richard Evans Paperback Books. Emilie Richards Paperback Books. This experience gave him a keen interest in cars. After leaving the army he associated with anarchists.


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He also developed a terrible temper and in he hit his boss with an iron bar. Bonnot escaped to Geneva. He joined a gang that specialized in stealing luxury-cars in France and Switzerland.

French Illegalists

During one of these operations he accidental killed a fellow gang member. According to Victor Serge : "Joseph the Italian, a little militant with frizzled hair who dreamed of a free life in the bush of Argentina, as far away as possible from the towns, was found murdered on the Melun Road. From the grapevine we gathered that an individualist from Lyons, Bonnot by name I did not know the man , who had been traveling with him by car, had killed him, the Italian having first wounded himself fumbling with a revolver.

The author of The Bonnot Gang has argued: "His early flirtation with anarchism, which might once have been dismissed simply as youthful exuberance, now became a fully- fledged liaison but although his turn to crime may well have been influenced by his new-found anarchist contacts, he must have felt that he had very little to lose; he'd worked for years, done his military service, tried to support a family, and what had he got at the end of it?

Ideas and theories on the one hand, social experience on the other, it was a dialectical process that produced illegalism, and each individual's particular set of circumstances that produced illegalists. These men shared Bonnot's illegalist philosophy that is reflected in these words: "The anarchist is in a state of legitimate defence against society.

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Hardly is he born than the latter crushes him under a weight of laws, which are not of his doing, having been made before him, without him, against him. Capital imposes on him two attitudes: to be a slave or to be a rebel; and when, after reflection, he chooses rebellion, preferring to die proudly, facing the enemy, instead of dying slowly of tuberculosis, deprivation and poverty, do you dare to repudiate him? If the workers have, logically, the right to take back, even by force, the wealth that is stolen from them, and to defend, even by crime, the life that some want to tear away from them, then the isolated individual must have the same rights.

Richard Parry , the author of the The Bonnot Gang has argued: "The so-called 'gang', however, had neither a name nor leaders, although it seems that Bonnot and Garnier played the principal motivating roles. They were not a close-knit criminal band in the classical style, but rather a union of egoists associated for a common purpose. Amongst comrades they were known as 'illegalists', which signified more than the simple fact that they carried out illegal acts. Illegal activity has always been part of the anarchist tradition, especially in France. It is claimed that they were the first to use an automobile to flee the scene of a crime.

The Bonnot Gang: The story of the French illegalists - Richard Parry

As Peter Sedgwick pointed out: "This was an astounding innovation when policemen were on foot or bicycle. Able to hide, thanks to the sympathies and traditional hospitality of other anarchists, they held off regiments of police, terrorized Paris, and grabbed headlines for half a year. The gang then stole weapons from a gun shop in Paris. On 2nd January, , they broke into the home of the wealthy Louis-Hippolyte Moreau and murdered both him and his maid. This time they stole property and money to the value of 30, francs.

Bonnot and his men fled to Belgium, where they sold the stolen car. In an attempt to steal another they shot a Belgian policeman. On 27th February they shot two more police officers while stealing an expensive car from a garage in Place du Havre.


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  • Leading anarchists in the city were arrested. This included Victor Serge who complained in his autobiography, Memoirs of a Revolutionary : "A positive wave of violence and despair began to grow. The outlaw anarchists shot at the police and blew out their own brains. Others, overpowered before they could fire the last bullet into their own heads, went off sneering to the guillotine Specifically, many European individualist anarchists believed the act of expropriation was a legitimate form of revolt against the social order capitalists, politicians, and the church. The French illegalists expropriated not only to finance anarchist activities; for them, it became a way to live.

    Screams, threats and kicks proved useless. There was no way that he was about to talk.

    Propaganda of the deed - Wikipedia audio article

    The police had tracked Bonnot to Choisy-le-Roi, a suburb of Paris. For some time, he kept the armed police officers and soldiers at bay despite the Hotchkiss machine gun in their possession.

    Finally, the police chief sent three officers to place dynamite charges under the house, blowing up the entire front portion of the residence. Bonnot took cover in a rolled-up mattress and continued to shoot back at the police. Ultimately, he was shot in the head.

    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists
    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists
    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists
    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists
    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists
    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists
    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists
    The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists The Bonnot Gang: The Story of the French Illegalists

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