Assassination attempt in Pont-sur-Seine - Attentat von Pont-sur-Seine

The attack in Pont-sur-Seine was a bomb attack on the then French President Charles de Gaulle . It was perpetrated on the evening of September 8, 1961 near Pont-sur-Seine in the Aube department on Route nationale 19 . De Gaulle was unharmed; there were no other victims either. The six assassins were caught and sentenced to long prison terms.

Charles de Gaulle, 1961

Sequence of events

Late in the afternoon of September 8, 1961 de Gaulle broke, accompanied by his wife Yvonne with several sedans type Citroën DS existing convoy of Paris to his country residence in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises (about 250 km east of the capital) on. [1]

After crossing the village of Pont-sur-Seine at around 9:45 p.m. on the edge of the country road, a remote-controlled explosive charge, hidden in a pile of sand , with a high flame , exploded just as the first of the cars - the one in which de Gaulle and his wife were in sat - the spot happened. [1] [2]

Nobody was harmed and all vehicles were able to continue their journey. It was the first attempt on Charles de Gaulle. [1]

Apprehension of the perpetrator

On the very evening of the crime, one of the assassins, Martial de Villemandy, was arrested in Pont-sur-Seine. As a result, all five other people involved in the attack could be identified and arrested except for one. Those arrested were Henry Manoury, who claimed to be the leader of the group, Armand Belvisi , Bernard Barance and Jean-Marc Rouvière . They were between 24 and 34 years old. All those arrested worked as auto insurance agents in the greater Paris area and had previously participated in the Algerian war. [1]

A sixth accused, Dominique Cabanne de la Prade , could not initially be caught. [1] [3] The former air traffic controller at Paris-Orly airport had fled to Belgium, where he was arrested in December 1962 for vagrancy and finally extradited to France in April 1964. The Belgian embassy in Paris had previously received threats from an organization called the Front d'action nationaliste françaisreceived in the event that Belgium should extradite the "French patriots". Finally, on March 26, 1964, the embassy was bombed. A few days later, on April 2, 1964, the French police shot and killed Alain Mouzon, a suspected member of the OAS, while attempting to arrest him. [4] [5]


The trial of the assassins took place from August 28 to September 8, 1962 at the jury ( Cour d'assises ) in Troyes , the capital of the Aube department . The defendants said they belong to the underground organization Organization de l'armée secrète (OAS). According to the accused, they were not targeting the life of the president in the attack. They just wanted to damage his legendary reputation and show that he was not invulnerable. [1]

This was countered by the results of the police investigation, which had shown that the explosives that had detonated only made up about a tenth of the total hidden charge. In total, it was about 40 kg of plastic explosives and cellulose nitrate , most of which did not explode due to moisture. If the entire explosive charge had detonated, according to the indictment, a container with napalm found nearby would have ignited. [1] It was therefore very likely an assassination attempt.

The defense, headed by Jean-Louis Tixier-Vignancour , argued that the French Ministry of the Interior and the secret services were actually behind the whole attack and that the attackers had been manipulated by them. According to the lawyers, the aim of this action was to convince de Gaulle of the dangerousness of the OAS. [1]

Even the hearing of some of the persons incriminated by the defense in the ministry and secret services in court could not ultimately provide any clarity and identify neither the OAS leadership nor any authorities beyond doubt as the perpetrators of the attack. [1]

The defendants were sentenced to between ten years and life imprisonment. [1]


The police could not identify the client and organizer of the attack, of whom the investigations only revealed that he had used the code name "Germain" against the executor. In the literature, "Germain" is now identified by several authors as Jean Bastien-Thiry , who shortly afterwards became known as the mastermind of the assassination attempt of Petit-Clamart on August 22, 1962, in which de Gaulle was also unharmed. [4] [6] Bastien-Thiry was caught after the attack in Petit-Clamart, sentenced to death and executed on March 11, 1963.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j 1961: the planned attack on Pont-sur-Seine. L'Est éclair, October 10, 2009, archived from the original on January 12, 2015 ; Retrieved January 10, 2015 (French).
  2. Meeting point Melilla . In: Der Spiegel . No. 39, 1961, S. 78–80 (online20. September 1961).
  3. Les ennemis de De Gaulle. Le Point , May 3, 2002; archived from the original on January 12, 2015 ; Retrieved on February 19, 2019 (French, details on assassin Dominique Caban [n] e de la Prade).
  4. ^ A b Jacques Delarue : L'OAS contre de Gaulle . Fayard, Paris 2014, ISBN 978-2-213-65903-9 (French, limited preview in Google book search).
  5. Catherine Lanneau, Francis Depagie: De Gaulle et la Belgique: essai historique . Avant-Propos, Brussels 2016, ISBN 978-2-511-04026-3 (French, limited preview in Google Book Search).
  6. Jean-Pax Méfret : Bastien-Thiry: Until the end of French Algeria . Pygmalion, Paris 2007, ISBN 978-2-7564-0936-8 ( Snippets aus der Google-Buchsuche ).