100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Suspected Anarchist Gang Member Arrested In France

Jules Bonnot was born in Doubs, France in 1876. A factory worker who served in the army for three years as an auto mechanic, Bonnot was drawn to anarchistic politics and began committing crimes for political reasons by 1908. He was involved in counterfeiting and progressed to the theft of luxury-cars in France and Switzerland. In 1910 Bonnot began posing as a businessman in order to visit the homes of wealthy lawyers in Lyon. He would ‘case’ the property and then return to rob it. In December 1911 a gentleman from Boulogne reported that his green and black 1910 Delaunay- Belleville limousine had been stolen. Late that week, 3 men, of the Bonnot Gang tackled a messenger for the Banc de Société Générale in Paris relieving him of a wallet containing over Fr5,000 but leaving a pouch containing over Fr20,000. Jumping back into the limousine, they were driven away by Jules Bonnot. This was the first criminal use of a “get-away” car. They have been branded “Les Bandits en Auto” by the press and a wave of panic has swept the nation.  Bonnot appeared armed with a Browning automatic in the office of the Petit Parisien to file a complaint about the daily paper’s coverage of the group.

Jules Bonnot

“We’ll burn off our last round against the cops and if they don’t care to come, we’ll certainly know how to find them.”

The gang split up in April 1912 but 3 policemen surprised Bonnot in the apartment of a suspected fence. He shot at the officers killing Louis Jouin, the vice-chief of the French police and wounding another officer before fleeing over the rooftops. Bonnot was now France’s most wanted criminal. Police tracked Bonnot to a garage in Paris and besieged the residence with 500 armed police officers, soldiers, firemen, military engineers while a lynch mob of local citizens stood by. After Bonnot succeeded in wounding 3 police officers, the Paris police chief ordered the building bombed, using a dynamite charge. The explosion demolished the front of the building. Police entered and a barely conscious Bonnot, lying underneath a mattress, was shot 10 times in the upper-body and once in the head.  He was buried in an unmarked grave and police refused to release his last will and testament that was found in Bonnot’s pocket after his death.

“I must live my life. I have the right to live, for every man has the right to live and since your idiocy and criminal social scheme claim to prevent me from doing so, well so much the worse for society. So much the worse for you all!”

Postcard showing the blowing up of the Bonnot gang in a Paris garage – April 1912

The corpse of Jules Bonnot

In May 1912 2 Bonnot gang members  were besieged in the Paris suburb by a large force including 300 police officers and 800 soldiers. The fugitives decided to blow the place up. One died but the other survived.

On August 28, 1912 Jean de Boe – anarchist, typographer, trade unionist & cooperativist was arrested as a member of the Bonnet gang. He will go to trial with other suspected members of the gang.

Police mug shot of Jean de Boe
arrested August 28, 1912

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