François de Grossouvre

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Person.png François de Grossouvre  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, physician)
François de Grossouvre.jpg
Born29 March 1918
Died7 April 1994 (Age 76)
Cause of death
Member ofLe Cercle
Victim ofPremature death
The spook in charge of Operation Gladio in France.

François de Grossouvre was the spook in charge of the French branch of Gladio, NATO's stay-behind paramilitary secret armies during the Cold War.[1] In 1994, the official narrative records that he committed suicide, but various commentators have called this an assassination.[2]


Born to a wealthy family, he trained as a doctor but never practiced his profession because of his wealth. Brian Crozier reports that "by nature and training, he was self-effacing".

WWII activities

During World War II, François de Grossouvre was a member of Joseph Darnand's Service d'ordre légionnaire (SOL), a Vichyst militia. He left in 1943 to fight in the Vercors region. After Liberation, it was discovered that he had in fact infiltrated the SOL on behalf of Organisation de résistance de l'armée (ORA) of which he was a member.


He went into business and politics after WWII. In 1950 he was recruited by the SDECE to replace Gilbert Union, official in Lyon and who had worked with the military agency BCRA, and became leader of Arc-en-Ciel, the regional branch of Operation Gladio (Lyon region), under the code-name "Monsieur Leduc".[1][3] According to former SDECE agent Louis Mouchon, "His business, the A. Berger et Cie Sugar company, offered ample opportunities to stage fronts. He really had excellent contacts." According to The Economist's obituary, "He was recruited into the French espionage service and helped to organise Gladio, an American backed plan to create an armed resistance movement in Western Europe against a Russian invasion."

François Mitterrand

Brian Crozier wrote that "De Grossouvre, a physician, was the closest friend and confidant of the Socialist leader and presidential candidate François Mitterrand." Some sources say De Grossouvre first met Mitterrand in 1959. The Times, in 1994, stated that they first met on a plane to China in 1962. Around this time, De Grossouvre held the largely ceremonial post of head of the Committee of Presidential Hunts, which organizes occasional informal gatherings in the countryside for the French President.

François de Grossouvre was counsellor for foreign trade of France (1952–67) and vice-president of the Chambre de commerce franco-sarroise (1955–62). He invested some capital in the 1953 creation of L'Express magazine, and started a friendship with Françoise Giroud and Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber. In the 1970s he became the largest shareholder of La Montagne and the Journal du Centre regional dailies.


In 1981 one of the first appointments of the newly elected French President François Mitterrand was to put Grossouvre in charge of "national security", and in particular those concerning Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Gabon, the Persian Gulf countries, Pakistan and North and South Korea.

Deep political connections

François de Grossouvre was brought to his first Cercle meeting by Georges Albertini[4] He played no part in the debates, but listened carefully, taking notes, and subsequently attended a number of meetings of Le Cercle. He was also a Knight of Malta.[5]


He died of gunshot wounds, which was ruled a suicide. It was the first time in the history of the Republic that a colleague of the Chief of State killed himself in the presidential palace.[6] He family contest the verdict.[7]

His death has been linked to another "suiciding", that of Pierre Bérégovoy.[2]


Event Participated in

Le Cercle/1980 (Washington)5 December 19807 December 1980US
Washington DC
Madison Hotel
Detailed in a telegram to the South African Embassy in Madrid that was posted to the internet in 2017.
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