Expositions /

The Troubled Time of Wars from 1914 to 1960

Jean-Claude Farcy with Marc Renneville (translation : P. Bass)

The application of capital punishment 1901-1974

Source : Graph made by the author.

The number of individuals condemned to death and executed in France from 1901 to 1974 (graph created with data provided by: Aubusson de Cavarlay (Bruno), Huré (Marie-Sylvie), Pottier (Marie-Lys). Les statistiques criminelles de 1831 à 1981, Déviance et contrôle social, 1989, n° 5, p. 182-181. The overall decrease in death sentences and executions is not reflected in periods of war or during the aftermath of such periods. At the end of each war period, the number of death sentences rose sharply, as did the number of executions. Yet this graph does not include political prisoners (even during the period 1945-1950). Given that it’s not due to political sentences, this war-time increase could be attributed to several reasons: the fact that courtrooms may have put off trials until after war-time because of technical difficulties, the relative disorganization of security forces, or a war-time conception of the value of human life – the latter two possibilities could have also contributed to violent crime during periods of war. The previous elements could have also influenced the attitude of magistrates and presidents of the Republic (in terms of their decision to pardon criminals or not). Moreover, new actions were qualified as capital offences. Without mentioning the Vichy legislation, which was overturned during the Liberation, we can take, for example, the law of November 23rd 1950 on armed robbery, the law of May 30th 1950 on arson with casualties or grave harm, or the law of April 13th 1953 on the abuse-related death of a child committed by someone other than the biological mother. On the eve of abolition in 1981, there were more capital offenses than there had been during the previous century. For more information: The list of capital offenses right before abolition (in 1981) is available on the site of French documentation, a folder is dedicated to abolition de la peine de mort en France and another on the assemblée nationale.

1914: shot to make an example

Source : Jean-Pierre Guéno and Yves Laplume, Paroles de Poilus. Lettres et carnets du front, 1914-1918, Paris, 2001, p. 87.

Letter from Corporal Henri Floch, shot as an example in Vingré, December 4th 1914 (cited by Jean-Pierre Guéno and Yves Laplume, Paroles de Poilus. Lettres et carnets du front (Words of the Infantrymen. Letters and travel diaries from the front), 1914-1918, Paris, Librio, 2001, p. 87) In a situation of war, much of the repression of potentially dangerous movements is due to the exceptional powers (even in terms of the justicial system) granted to military authorities. War councils and court martials punish everything that is considered as rebellion by the government. Between September 1914 and the end of the war, 2300 individuals were sentenced to death by councils of war, including 550 soldiers killed by firing squad, 180 of whom were killed within the first few months of the war. Henri Floch’s letter shows some of the most dramatic cases, when commanders, faced with their first defeats, found no other means to maintain order and to force the troops to go to the front than to take several men at random and send them to the court martial, where they were shot as an example by a firing squad. This was the case of six soldiers from Vingré who were exonerated by the court of appeals on January 29th 1921. For more information: For other letters written by the victims of the firing squad in Vingré, see the website Anovi-2004Bibliographie on Criminocorpus.

The execution of Mata Hari (L’Excelsior, October 16th 1917)

Source : L'Excelsior, October 16th 1917.

Extract from the Excelsior, October 16th 1917, Private collection. Spy cases were treated by the military justice system. Mata Hari, sentenced to death on July 24th 1917 by the 3rd Council of War in Paris, was killed by firing squad on October 15th in the practice target area of Vincennes. Her given name was Margareth Gertrude Zelle (1876-1917), and she was an erotic dancer, a star in every European capital, who collected lovers among high society without regard to nationality. French counter-intelligence agents solicited her services and then arrested her, and the following trial, which was based on inconsistent evidence, was over in a day. For more information: See the biographical article on Mata Hari on Wikipedia or the Bibliography on Criminocorpus.

The last public execution (Le Matin, October 24th 1978)

Source : Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/616.

Extract from the newspaper Le Matin, October 24th 1978. Here, the newspaper reproduces a photograph of the last public execution, which took place in the entrance of the Versailles prison on June 17th 1939. The accused, Eugène Weidmann, was born in Frankfurt in 1908 and had committed multiple kidnappings followed by murders in Paris during the World Exposition of 1937. He had committed six murders when he was arrested in December of the same year. Following confusion over the time, the execution was put off and the light of day allowed photographers to take photos that were published soon after. This caused an even greater scandal than the crowd of 300 people who had come to watch the event, and the government decided from that moment on to execute prisoners inside the prison without any publicity. The decision was made official by the decree of June 24th 1939 outlawing the publicity of capital punishment, which reads (Journal officiel, June 25th 1939): “The President of the French Republic, on the report of the President of the council, Minister of National Defense and War, of the Attorney General, Minister of Justice, and of the Minister of the Interior, Having regard to the law of March 19th 1939 giving the government special powers; the councils of Ministers included, decree: Article one. Article 26 of the Penal Code will be modified as follows: Article 26. The execution will take place inside the penitentiary establishment, which will be designated by the sentence, and will be noted on a list made by a decision of the Attorney General, Minister of Justice. The only individuals permitted to witness the execution are the following: 1° The president of the Assizes court or, otherwise, a magistrate designated by the first president; 2° An officer of the Public Minister designated by the Attorney General; 3°A courtroom judge from the place of execution; 4° The clerk of the Assizes court or, otherwise, a clerk from the courtroom at the place of execution; 5° The defense lawyers of the condemned; 6° A minister of religious denomination; 7° The director of the penitentiary establishment; 8° The police chief and, if necessary, agents of public security required by the Attorney General or by the public prosecutor; 9° The prison doctor or, if not, a doctor chosen by the public prosecutor. Art. 2. – Paragraph two of article 13 of the Penal Code is repealed. Art. 3. – Article 378 of the code of criminal investigation is modified as follows: Art. 378. – The report of the execution will be, under the penalty of 100 francs, made on-site by the court clerk. It will be signed by the president of the Assizes court or his substitute, the representative of the public prosecutor, and the court clerk. Immediately following the execution, a copy of this report will be, under the same fine, posted at the door of the penitentiary establishment or at the place of execution and will stay there for 24 hours. No indication or document pertaining to the execution other than this report can be published in the press, under penalty of one hundred to two thousand francs. The report will be, under the fine mentioned in paragraph 1, transcribed by the court clerk in the following twenty-four hours starting at the minute of the sentencing. The transcription will be signed by the aforementioned and it will mention everything, under the same fine,  except for the report. This notice will also be signed and the transcription will be the proof, as for the report itself. Art. 4. – This decree will be submitted to the ratification of the Chambers as is stated in the law of March 19th 1939. Art. 5. – The president of the council, the minister of national defense and war, the Attorney General, the Minister of Justice, and the minister of the interior are each responsible for the execution of this decree which will be published in the Journal Officiel of the French Republic. Done in Paris, June 24th 1939” (trans. P. Bass). For more information: See the biographical article on Eugène Weidmann on Wikipedia or the Bibliography on Criminocorpus .

The Vichy Court Martials

Source : Virginie Sansico. La Justice du pire. Les cours martiales sous Vichy, Paris, Payot, 2002, p. 156-1657.

An extract from documents cited by Virginie Sansico. La Justice du pire. Les cours martiales sous Vichy (The justice of the worst. Court Martials under the Vichy Regime), Paris, Payot, 2002, p. 156-1657. Under the Vichy regime, “exceptional” political jurisdictions were set up: the Supreme Court of Justice (to judge former Ministers), the Court Martial of Gannat, the Special Criminal Court (for smugglers in the black market), special courts, special sub-courts, State courts (with two sub-courts in Lyon and Paris), and two jurisdictions established in 1944, the Court Martials and the “Courts to Maintain order” (Tribunaux de maintien de l’ordre). The Court Martials (see the law of January 20th 1944 transcribed afterwards) had the goal of treating individuals arrested while committing armed murder or bombings, in the case of terrorist attacks. These institutions were under the direct authority of the Militia and were spread over the whole of France. They judged particularly rapidly, without an investigation period, lawyers, or methods of appeal, and they applied a single sentence: the death sentence. Of all the exceptional courts instated by the Vichy regime, the Court Martials were by far the most deadly: two hundred death sentences were carried out in six months, from the end of January through the beginning of August 1944. These courts were the result of a desperate regime that used terror to combat the actions of the French Resistance. We can sense the climate of hatred that surrounded them by reading an extract from the collaborationist newspaper which justifies, with no ethical qualms, the “trials” that lasted only a few minutes and that often comprised just an interrogation regarding the individual’s identity followed by an immediate execution, with barely the time for the accused to write a last letter to their family. “January 20th 1944. Law instituting Court Martials (Journal officiel, January 21st 1944, p.238). The head of government, having regard to the constitutional acts n°12 and n°12bis, the cabinet having been heard, decree the first article. The General Secretary for the maintenance of order is authorized to create one or more Court Martials. 2. Individuals acting in isolation or in groups, arrested in acts of assassination or murder, or in attempted assassination or murder, committed with arms or explosives for a terrorist attack, are deferred to the Court Martials. 3. Any individual arrested in the aforementioned conditions is immediately put under custody of the quartermaster of the regional police prefecture at the place of arrest. The quartermaster of the police will place them under the mandate of the police station and take all necessary actions to bring them before the Court Martial. 4. Court Martials are composed of three members designated by the decree of the General Secretary for the maintenance of the order. 5. The application of laws on criminal investigation is suspended in regards to individuals deferred to Court Martials. If the Court Martial decides that the conditions of article 2 of this present law are fulfilled and that guilt is clearly established, the culprits are immediately executed by firing squad. In the other case, the culprits are put into the custody of the public prosecutor who himself decides what seems to be the adequate measures to be taken. 6. The procedure and the conditions under which Court Martials function, as well as all the measures of executing this present law, will be regulated by decrees made by the general secretary of maintaining order. 7. The present law is applicable under June 30th 1944. 8. The present decree will be published in the Journal Officiel and executed as a law of the state” (trans. P. Bass). Given the reluctance of the first police quartermasters, the text was rewritten on February 11th: “February 11th 1944. Law regarding the procedures of Court Martials (Journal officiel, February 13th 1944, p. 475) The chief of government, - Given the constitutional acts n°12 and 12bis; -

The head of government, having regard to the constitutional acts n°12 and n°12bis, the cabinet having been heard, decree the first article. Article 3 of the law of January 20th 1944, regarding instituting Court Martials, is repealed and replaced with the following: “Any individual arrested in the conditions detailed in the preceding article  is put in the custody of the General Secretary for the maintenance of order who will attribute a mandate of custody to him and take the necessary action to bring him before a Court Martial. Until the delivery of a mandate of custody, the culprit shall, despite the dispositions of article 509 (Code d’instruction criminelle), be held at the police station where he will be taken for a provisional requisition for the prison register given by the agents who conducted the arrest. It is also their responsibility to immediately inform the General Secretary for the maintenance of the order of this development. 2. There shall be a second paragraph added to article 4 of the law of January 20th including: The General Secretary for the maintenance of the order  designates one or more police stations near the Court Martials. 3. The present decree will be published in the Journal Officiel and executed as a law of the state” (trans. P. Bass). For more information: See the bibliography on special courts during the Vichy regime on Criminocorpus. Krivopissko (Guy). La vie à en mourir: lettres de fusillés, 1941-1944, Paris, Tallandier, 2003, 367 p.

The punishment of collaborators during Liberation

Source : Arthur Koestler, Albert Camus. Réflexions sur la peine capitale, Paris, Gallimard, 2002, p. 250-252.

Letter from Albert Camus to the Minister of Justice, Pierre-Henri Teitgen, December 5th 1946 Arthur Koestler, Albert Camus. Réflexions sur la peine capitale, Paris, Gallimard, Folio, 2002, p. 250-252). Because of its large scale, the punishment of collaborators that took place during the Liberation is often considered as a purge. Over a hundred thousand people were judged, several thousand were condemned to death by Courts of justice, and a little less than 1 500 legal executions took place, since the justice system of the Liberation was relatively generous with pardons given the “savage” purge preceding legal executions which had led to many summary executions. The trials of Vichy officials and of journalists and writers who had supported the regime created ethical dilemmas for intellectuals who had both participated in the Resistance and who were profoundly hostile to the death penalty. This was the case of Albert Camus who agreed to speak with the Attorney General to obtain the pardon of the journalists of Je suis partout. For more information: See the biographical article on Albert Camus on Wikipedia.

Women guillotined again

Source : Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/142.

Extracts from the newspaper Paris-Soir, January 9th 1941, and from the newspaper L’Aurore, October 4th 1949 (Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/142) The last public execution of a woman for a common-law crime had occurred in Romorantin (Loir-et-Cher) in 1887, and, as the journalist for Paris-Soir mentions, in Bordeaux the last execution of a woman dated back to 1858. The Vichy regime, however, interrupted the relative clemency accorded to women that reigned since the mid 19th century, and the courts of the early 4th Republic began reapplying the death penalty to women. Under Vichy, seven women were executed in four years; the last, Germaine Godefroy, was executed in 1949 in Angers.

Cracking down on the Algerian rebellion

Source : Sylvie Thénault. La Justice dans la guerre d’Algérie, thèse, Paris-X Nanterre, 1999, vol. 3, p. 810-811.

Military statistics of the number of death sentences given by Councils of War during the Algerian War (cited by Sylvie Thénault. La Justice dans la guerre d’Algérie, PhD dissertation, Université de Paris-X Nanterre, 1999, dact., vol. 3, p. 810-811). In the context of guerilla warfare, the crackdown on Algerian nationalists meant that the leaders of the French army created Councils of War (that they completely controlled) in order to regain the control they had lost since the 1930s. Here, legality was not a primary concern, intelligence agents used torture as a tool, and the death penalty was liberally doled out as a way for Councils of War to make examples. During the Algerian War, these Councils sentenced over 1 400 individuals to death, and they executed about 200 (both numbers should be interpreted as conservative estimates). Summary executions took the lives of many more. For more information: See the bibliography on Criminocorpus.

Cracking down on the Algerian rebellion (continued)

Source : Sylvie Thénault. La Justice dans la guerre d’Algérie, thèse, Paris-X Nanterre, 1999, vol. 3, p. 810-811.

The execution of Bastien-Thiry

Source : Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/570.

Extracts from the newspaper Le Figaro, March 12th 1963 and from the newspaper Combat, March 12th 1963 (Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/570) At the end of the Algerian war, part of the French army in Algeria refused Algerian independence and created a terrorist organization (O.A.S. organization de l’armée secrete) which made multiple attacks in Algeria and in France against those who worked in favor of peace in Algeria or against authorities accused of treason. The colonel Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry (1927-1963), a military engineer and graduate from the Ecole Polytechnique, organized an attack against general de Gaulle in Petit-Clamart on August 22nd 1962. Judged by a military court in a trial lasting from January 28th to February 4th 1963, he was condemned to death and killed by firing squad at the prison of Fresnes on March 11th 1963. This was the last political execution in France. For more information: See the biographical article on Bastien-Thiry on Wikipedia and the article HerodoteBibliographie on Criminocorpus.

Writers against the death penalty: Albert Camus

Source : Arthur Koestler, Albert Camus. Réflexions sur la peine capitale, Paris, Gallimard, Folio, 2002, p. 143-144.

Extract from Arthur Koestler, Albert Camus. Réflexions sur la peine capitale, Paris, Gallimard, Folio, 2002, p. 143-144. Writer Albert Camus (1913-1960), generally considered the leading philosopher of the absurd, took over the newspaper Combat in 1914. Born in Algeria, his father died following the battle of the Marne in 1914. He only knew him via one photograph and anecdotes that his mother told him. Here, he recounts one such story where his father attended an execution; and this is how Camus’ book of reflections begins. This desire to show the reality of execution, whose necessity he ceaselessly repeats throughout the book, is a desire shared with abolitionists who wanted to make supporters of capital punishment face the gory truth of judicial murder. Cocteau, who joined up with Albert Camus’ fight, made this quote: “We should never create death because we don’t know what it is.” The plea of Albert Naud, shown on the next page, also starts with the story of an execution. For more information: See the biographical article on Albert Camus on Wikipedia.

Lawyers against the death penalty: Albert Naud

Source : Collection of the National Museum of Prisons (France).

Cover page of Albert Naud’s book, Tu ne tueras pas, Morgan, 1959 (National Museum of Prisons) Albert Naud (1904-1977) was of humble origins, and did his studies at the Sorbonne. He started his career as a journalist for the Echo de Paris while he was taking law classes. He was called to the bar in 1933 and did his pupillage in the chambers of the famous lawyer Campinchi. During the Liberation, he was asked to defend those responsible for collaboration, including Pierre Laval, Henri Béraud and Céline. He was also the defense lawyer for Henri Charrière (Paillon), Lucien Léger and Amhed Dlimi, the Moroccan police chief accused of murdering Medhi Ben Barka. He started his argument against the death penalty by the story of an execution that took place at the prison of Arras, the night before a national holiday in 1951 (from which the title of the first chapter, “The holiday of fraternity”, gets its name). Daniel was the nickname of a young man from the north who had learned to kill by firing guns with his father on retreating German soldiers at the age of 14. He had murdered two taxi drivers, for which he was condemned to death. Extract from the first part of “Holiday of fraternity”. The death of Daniel (July 13th, 1951, Arras prison), p. 26-29. “It’s finished. There were two metallic shocks and now, an idle limp cord dangled along the side of the guillotine’s support beam. The blood purted all around. The grey courtyard wall was spattered with it. On the ground, a pool started to spread in every direction, making a geography of islands, lakes, isthmuses and straights between the cobblestones. Distraught, I looked at the executioner, who held Daniel’s head by the hair. He held it with one weary hand, like an unimportant package. His dust-colored raincoat rubbed against the dead and blood-specked cheek of this horrible head. A desire to vomit, to cry, to scream, came from deep within my stomach – I don’t even know if I have a soul – and entered my throat, but I stayed immobile and mute. What was the man with the brown hat and the dust-colored raincoat doing? Where was he going? Was it true that he was holding, glued to his thigh, a twenty-year-old head? Did he do so to save it from this butchery that rose to our noses? Did he do so to deliver it to another Mathilde de la Mole who I would suddenly see appear, sublimated by love and cruelty? The executioner brought the head to a small table covered with a white cloth, as if he was going to serve a feast for cannibals. Two dignified men with icy demeanors were there waiting for it. One of them seized it and turned it over, eyes to the sky. The other, whose hands were armed with gleaming surgical pliers, briefly shuddered. He closed his eyes for several seconds, took air into his lungs and noisily breathed it out in one gust of air, going: peuff! He whispered to me: - Don’t stay there, mister. – I promised not to. He was scared… I pity about and admire these men who work with such horror to bring light to the blind. – Turn it to the left, a little more….like that, very good. The assistant obeyed. “Turn it…”. It was still Daniel there, all his identity assembled into this face, riddled with red stains and so wrinkled, so old that we would never say that he had once been twenty, and in this intact eye whose lid shuts as the surgical implement approaches. I found myself murmuring words of pity and encouragement to this head that was being mutilated and seemed to need my presence. Indifferent, the executioners continued their butchery. They threw Daniel’s body in the wicker basket and placed themselves around their mechanics. They waded in blood. The assistant, with rolled-up sleeves, calmly and carefully washed the blade and other bloodied pieces of the guillotine. From time to time, he gripped his sponge in the wash bucket and the blood ran down his arm in long drips as he restarted his work. Little by little, the water became red and thick. The assistant plunged his two arms in and gripped the viscous sponge in his fists, and it whistled as it was squeezed. I couldn’t stop watching these two hands. His partner, the mechanic, had very white, sausage-like, fat ones. The blood looked like fresh wounds on them. At the end of this small brown courtyard with unclimbable walls, there was a secret slaughterhouse where  the men were cut up, where blood soaked into the ground, where clothes, hands and faces were stained with the blood of man, where one could breathe in the blood of man. Are the hands of these three executioners accepted without repulsion in the hands of other men? Did their hands caress women’s hands? Did their hands ever try to pet the neck of an animal, without the animal resisting, averted by who-knows-what sense of the inhuman? Did their hands bring food to their mouths without disgust, every day? Didn’t their hands make them dream at night? Would God receive and forgive them? The surgeons finished their task. The executioner took up Daniel’s head by the hair again – an old head with pink eye sockets – and threw it in the basket.


                                     *   *

The night would never end. Despite this sweet ascent of a new July 14th and a sky that would be blue, it remained night in this provincial cemetery where we had just arrived, a cemetery profaned by our presence as men of law, policemen, and executioners. Read what follows, Christians who follow death rites, and you who want to keep your redemptive guillotine! Daniel paid his debt, as popular language puts it. He is nothing but a corpse. The assistants, with fingernails circled with curdled blood, took the body and, without even removing his notorious bonds, threw it stomach-down into a coffin made of disjointed planks that resembled an egg-crate. Their supervisor, the executioner in a light blue shirt – a surprising color in this place – took the mutilated head and put in on the body backwards, on the left shoulder, the eyes turned towards the coming dawn. No one tried to put the body back into its original appearance. My protestations fell upon indifferent ears. At the same time, the mechanic threw the first shovelful of earth soaked in blood onto the face with empty eyes. He plunged his shovel into the wicker basket, which the assistant tilted to help empty it. The coffin was filled like a trashcan. Each person seemed to understand that the executioners didn’t know what to do with these solidified lumps of sawdust. After the butchery, the quartering! And we were all there, the magistrates, lawyer and policemen, without a single one of us crying out in horror, or alerting the world of these quarterers, or asking God for forgiveness on behalf of all men. We separated ways, without salutation, and left, shameful, in the pink of this day when we prepare to celebrate the Holiday of Fraternity (la Fête de la Fraternité)” (Trans. P. Bass). For more information: See the article written by Frédéric Monnier on the website louisferdinandceline.

The French association against the death penalty

Source : Archives of the Parisian Police Archives, DB/616.

Extract from Paris Jour, February 9th 1963 (Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/616) This article describes a meeting organized in the Mutualité room in Paris by the French Association against the death penalty, a group created in 1959 and led by Georgie Viennet, an important yet little-known figure in the abolition movement. The interventions cited are representative of the groups who participated in the combat against the death penalty: intellectuals and scientists (Jean Rostand), leaders of the Human Rights League (Daniel Mayer), important lawyers (chairman Thorp and Frédéric Pottecher), and several politicians on the right who were minorities within their own parties (Claudius Petit, André Philip). The French Association against the death penaltyprimarily organized meetings (sometimes contradictory with the lawyers who supported the death penalty), organized conferences, and published brochures and books.

Right-wing parliament members initiating abolition

Source : Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/616.

Right-wing parliament members initiating abolition

Source: Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/616.
Extracts from the newspaper Paris-Jour, February 21st 1963 and Combat, June 9th 1967 (Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/616) In the beginning of the Fifth Republic, the conservative majority in the National Assembly allowed the government to refuse a parliamentary debate on the death penalty which would most likely have resulted in its maintenance. A minority of the right-wing deputies joined the abolition movement starting in the 1960s, led by several figures like Lecocq and Colette in 1963 (following Bastien-Thiry’s trial) and Claudius-Petit in 1967. These deputies proposed bills in 1960 (René Lecocq), 1962 (Claudius Petit), 1965 (Charpentier) and 1966 (Lecocq-Collette). These proposals were supported by the left, but the government in place refused to take them into consideration. For more information: The list of bills delivered in Parliament is provided in the file on the l’abolition de la peine de mort of the French Documentation website.

Referendums of the press

Source : Archives of the Parisian Police Prefecture, DB/616.

Extracts from the newspapers France-Soir, February 17th 1958 and L’Aurore, February 11th 1966 (Archives of the Police Prefecture of the Seine, DB/616) Following highly publicized trials or proposals for abolition put before the National Assembly, the popular press periodically published pro- death penalty opinion articles. They often polled their readers, a technique inaugurated in 1907 by the Petit Parisien. In 1958, the trial of abbot Desnoyers, the vicar of Uruffe, who murdered his pregnant mistress and stabbed her to kill the fetus, provided the opportunity for France-Soir to ask their readership’s opinion of the verdict (the priest was not condemned to death). They also asked about the indictment of the public prosecutor Parisot, who, during a murder trial in the appeals court of Meurthe-et-Moselle, declared that he couldn’t apply the death penalty after the vicar of Uruffe had been accorded a pardon, criticizing abolitionist intellectuals; he called the film director André Cayatte, creator of Nous sommes tous des assassins, a liar, and called Albert Camus an anarchist. The result of the poll showed a majority was in favor of the death penalty (54 percent). In 1966, L’Aurore, a newspaper that actively supported the death penalty, did their own referendum following a proposal in favour of abolition by 87 deputies belonging to all parties (except the communists, who were kept apart). The result, given the political bent of the paper and its readership, was as expected: among the 17 500 responses, 81.8 percent were for the maintenance of the death penalty (results published February 24th 1966).