Paul Touvier was born in 1915. He joined the SOL – Service d’ordre legionnaire – and later the French Militia, from the very formation of these organisations in 1942 and 1943 respectively.
In April 1942, he was made secretary of the SOL in Chambéry. His duties included in particular establishing files on Resistance members. His policing skills were soon discovered, and he was put in charge of the Second Service of the Militia in Savoy. Touvier was then called to Lyon where he became regional leader of the Militia for ten departments, National Police Superintendant and, in January 1944, head of the state office for the Maintenance of Public Order. Politics and the political police brought Touvier social success, psychological satisfaction and material advantages. He infiltrated the Resistance, interrogated prisoners, carried out raids, pillaged and avenged the death of Henriot by having seven Jews shot dead in Rillieux-la-Pape on 29 June 1944.
From September 1944 onwards, Touviers went into hiding under a false identity (“Trichet”). He later re-adopted his real identity after the period of prescription for his crimes had lapsed in 1967.
He was not however to escape justice. He was accused of criminal actions constituting crimes against humanity, committed while carrying out his function as local leader of the Second Service of the Militia in Lyon. The criminal investigation concerned the following alleged facts (see decision of the Cour de Cassation from 1992, under ‘related links’):
1. Aggression committed on 10 December 1943 in the synagogue on Quai de Tilsitt in Lyon, in the course of which grenades were thrown, causing injuries to certain people
(complaint lodged by Rosa Eisner-Vogel)
2. The arrest of Jewish people in the same place, on 13 June 1944, who were subsequently deported and died in a concentration camp (complaint by Rosa Eisner-Vogel, Jacques and Laurent Darcueil and Nicole Heymann)
3. The arrest of Victor Basch and his wife née Hélène Furth, both Jewish, in Caluire on 10 January 1944 and their execution in Neyron (complaint by the Basch family)
4. The arrest of Jean de Filippis, Resistance member, on 16 January 1944 in Lyon, who was tortured and deported to a concentration camp by the occupying powers (complaint by Filippis)
5. The arrest of André Laroche, Resistance member, on 29 March 1944, who was handed over to the Gestapo, tortured and deported (complaint by Laroche)
6. The arrest of Albert Nathan in Lyon, on 9 May 1944, who was executed by the Germans on 17 August 1944 (complaint by Robert Nathan)
7. The raid in Montmélian, on 24 April 1944, in the course of which Alexandre Munoz-Rojo, José Lopez and Michel Charvier were arrested and later deported to a concentration camp where Charvier died (complaint by Georgette Charvier, Munoz-Rojo and Lopez)
8. The arrest of Emile Medina in Vaulx-en-Velin, on 19 May 1944, who was later tortured (complaint by Medina)
9. The arrest of Robert Nant in Collonges, on 27 May 1944, who was later tortured (complaint by Nant)
10. The execution of seven Jewish hostages in Rillieux, on 29 June 1944 : Léo Glaeser, Louis Krzyzkowski, Schlusseman, Claude Ben Zimra, Emile Zeizig, S. Prock and one unknown (complaint by Georges and Henri Glaeser, Gérard Ben Zimra and René Zeizig);
11. The arrest of Lucien Meyer, Eliette Meyer and Claude Bloch in Crépieux-les-Brosses, on 29 June 1944, killing of Lucien Meyer and deportation of the other two which led to the death of Eliette Meyer (complaint by Claude Bloch)
Paul Touvier was sentenced to death in absentia for treason by the Cour de Justice in Lyon in December 1946. The following year he was convicted of conspiring with the enemy by the Cour de Justice in Chambéry and again sentenced to death.
Paul Touvier was sentenced to death in absentia for treason by the Cour de Justice in Lyon in December 1946. The following year he was convicted of conspiring with the enemy by the Cour de Justice in Chambéry and again sentenced to death. The period of prescription for these two death sentences elapsed in March 1967. Time limitations for crimes against humanity were, however, abolished in French jurisprudence in 1964. Thus, a new indictment became possible.
Touvier was however pardoned by President Pompidou in 1972, which led to anger and indignation amongst the families of his victims.
The first complaints for crimes against humanity were lodged in 1973. After several setbacks, the investigation was opened in 1979. Four judges investigated the case successively and it was only on 27 November 1981 that an arrest warrant was issued against Touvier. Paul Touvier was arrested on 24 May 1989 at the priory of Saint-Joseph de Nice, where he was in hiding under the name of Paul Lacroix. He was charged with aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and placed in detention. In a decision dated 29 October 1991, the investigating magistrate declared the charges inadmissible on counts number 2,5,6,7,8 and 9 (see Facts) and ordered the transmission of the case to the Chief Prosecutor with regard to the following counts:
a) Attempted murder of a group of Jewish people, committed on 10 December 1943 in Lyon
b) Aiding and abetting the murder of Victor Basch and Hélène Basch, born Furth, committed on 10 and 11 January 1944 in Caluire and Neyron
c) Aiding and abetting deprivation of liberty to the detriment of Jean de Filippies, a Resistance member who was later deported to a concentration camp
d) Aiding and abetting the murder of Glaeser, Krzyzkowski, Schlusseman, Ben Zimra, Zeizig, Prock and a man who could not be identified, committed on 28 and 29 June 1944 in Lyon and Rillieux
e) Aiding and abetting the murder of Lucien Meyer and Eliette Meyer, committed on 29 June 1944 in Lyon and Crépieux-les-Brosses
f) Aiding and abetting the deprivation of liberty to the detriment of Claude Bloch who was deported to a concentration camp, committed on 29 June 1944
According to the investigating magistrate, all these actions amounted to crimes against humanity according to article 6 c) of the statute of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg.
On 13 April 1992, the investigating magistrate’s inadmissibility order was confirmed by the Trial Cchamber of the Cour d’Appel in Paris. The chamber then went on to find that – apart from the crimes committed on 28 and 29 June in Rillieux – there were insufficient grounds to indict Touvier and so declared the charges inadmissible, thereby confirming the decision of the examining magistrate.
As far as the murders committed on 28 and 29 June in Lyon and Rillieux were concerned, however, the court found that there were sufficient grounds against Touvier, stating that he had participated in the crimes by giving orders and providing help and assistance. However in disallowing the qualification of these actions as crimes against humanity, the court ruled that the prescription period in which an action could be brought had elapsed.
An appeal was lodged with the Cour de Cassation which then nullified the Trial Chamber’s decision, but only insofar as it concerned the murder of the seven Jewish people in Rillieux on 28 and 29 June 1944. All other considerations of the decision were expressly maintained.
The case was then referred to the Cour d’Assises in Yvelines, where trial was opened on 17 March 1994.
On 19 April 1994, Paul Touvier was found guilty of aiding and abetting a crime against humanity in Lyon on 28 and 29 June 1944. According to the judgment, Paul Touvierwas “guilty of having knowingly been accomplice to a crime against humanity on 28 and 29 June 1944 in Lyon, on the one hand by giving instructions, and on the other hand by helping and assisting, with full knowledge and intent, the authors of premeditated murder on Glaeser Léo, Krzyzkowski Louis, Schlusselman Maurice, Benzimra Claude, Zeizig Emile, Prock Siegfried and one man who could not be identified. These murders were part of a concerted plan by a State which followed a policy of ideological hegemony, in this case Nazi Germany, against people singled out by reason of their belonging to a racial or religious group.”
Paul Touvier was sentenced to lifeimprisonment. He died in prison in 1996.