Touraine - from then until now!

This blog is an attempt to show some of the vast history of Man's prescence in the Southern Touraine.... from first footfall to the present....
especially in and around le Grand Pressigny area.... with special emphasis on life at and around le Moulin de la Forge.
There will also be occasional entries about time before man was here and when the area was at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea...

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Swoboda and the radical lawyer

La Touraine with two masts


In April 1 1915, Raymond Swoboda was charged with the sabotage of the liner La Touraine on which he was a passenger. Subsequently he was also charged with espionage. He chose as his défenseur Maitre Alexandre Zévaès, as was reported in Le Petit Havre of 29th April 1915. A défenseur is effectively a barrister, and stands up in court on his client's behalf, but would have done a lot of the digging work as well. Zevaes agreed to act for Swoboda.

Alexandre Zévaès - from the library of the Assemblée Nationale

Zévaès was the nom de guerre of Alexandre Bourson, who chose this pseudonym in homage to the writers Michel Zévaco (1860-1918, anarchist) and Jules Vallès (1832-1885, socialist). As well as a lawyer, he was a writer and a politician. According to his Wikipedia entry, Zévaès was an MP, deputé for the département of Isère between 1898 and 1902 and from 1904 to 1910,  as a member of the (marxist) Parti Ouvrier Français. From 1898 he was an active Dreyfusard. He was a significant enough barrister to act for the assassin of Jean Jaurès in 1917. He is known today for his series of books on the history of Socialism under the Third Republic. And he was a freemason.

Much was made in the press of reported sightings of Swoboda sneaking around the streets of Viroflay where he lived, "dressed as a mason", this being cited as proof that he was spying, or at the very least up to no good. Come on chaps, wakey wakey. He was a freemason too, wasn't he? That's why a notable lawyer agreed to act for a nobody like Swoboda - he was a brother.

By 28th June 1915 the sabotage charge had been dropped, as it was apparent that the fire was accidental (despite "Secret History" including it on its list of sabotage operations), and the only evidence of the espionage charge was that Swoboda had lied about his background, which is no evidence at all. The charges eventually fizzled out virtually unnoticed by the press, and Swoboda disappeared from the public gaze. This comment in Le Rappel of September 1916 is all I can find:

Le commandant Julien, chargé de l'en-
quête relative à l'affaire Schwind-Swoboda
vient de clore son instruction et a trans-
mis son dossier au gouverneur militaire
de Paris. Il conduit à un non-lieu sur les
deux clefs d'accusation. Si ces conclusions
sont adoptées, Swoboda-Schwind quittera
prochainement la prison de la Santé.

Commandant Julien, charged with the enquiry concerning the Schwind-Swoboda affair, has just completed his investigation and has sent his dossier to the military governor of Paris. He has dismssed both charges. If these conclusions are adopted, Swoboda-Schwind will leave the Santé prison shortly.