There is a new book just out on the major Nazi-sponsored criminal gang in Occupied Paris.
- Christopher Othen. The King of Nazi Paris: Henri Lafont and the Gangsters of the French Gestapo. 2020.
According to Amazon, the back page reads:
Henri Lafont was a petty criminal who became the most powerful crook in Paris thanks to the Nazi occupation of France. A chance encounter in a prison camp led to a life of luxury running a ruthless mob of gangsters who looted the city on behalf of the Nazis, who recognised Lafont's talent for treachery and deceit. Lafont recruited 'the French Gestapo', a motley band of sadistic grotesques that included faded celebrities, ex-footballers, pimps, murderers, burglars and bank robbers.
They wore the best clothes, ate at the best restaurants and did whatever they pleased. They lived on the exclusive rue Lauriston, where they mixed with celebrities and Nazi officers, while down in the cellar of their building, the rest of the gang tortured resistance prisoners.
The unbalanced 'Crazy Pete' did it for information. Bisexual athlete Violette Morris, with her short hair and men's clothes and love of frail blondes, just liked to watch people in pain.
By 1944, the gang ran a paramilitary outfit of Algerians and Moroccan nationalists in the south of France, raping, robbing and murdering the locals under the cover of fighting the resistance. Then the Allies came, and a terrible price had to be paid.
Nowhere in the book does it say that Morris was a trans man.
Raymond Ruffin is the source of the calumnies against Morris. His attitude to Violette Morris is evident at first glance in his book titles: La diablesse and La hyène de la Gestapo. He got the idea from a novel by famous crime writer Auguste Le Breton (1913 – 1999), Les pègriots, 1973, which has 2 pages on Morris.
However Othen did not even read Ruffin. He merely cites a web page by Yasmine Youssi that summarizes his position. The best book on Morris is
- Marie-Josèphe Bonnet. Violette Morris: histoire d'une scandaleuse. Perrin, 2011.
Bonnet went through the archives of the Free France Secret Service, and the BCRA (Central Bureau of Research and Action), which are available at the Office of the Resistance. She also examined trial transcripts of the treason trials which followed the Liberation, the National Archives and local archives in Normandy. She found minor references to Morris, but nothing to support the picture found in Ruffin's books. Likewise Morris was not mentioned in the criminal trials of the Bonny-Lafont gang, nor in the Gestapo's own files on repressing the Resistance. Bonnet points out that Ruffin does not seem to know what Morris was doing for the first three years of the Occupation.
Othen cites my article on Morris, but only Part 1, which goes up to 1930. Not part 2 which – drawing heavily on Bonnet – discusses what Morris did in the war.
Why are prurient myths so often repeated while solid scholarship which refuted them is generally ignored?