Free Agent - The Unseen War 1941-1991
The Autobiography of an international activist
p. 99; p. 186; p. 190-194; p. 217-218; and p. 241
In Paris, Violet had launched a new quarterly review, Le Monde Moderne, which reproduced the entire text [January 1972, 'European Security and the Soviet Problem'] in translation. The funds for this project, and indeed for our study group's special report, had been provided by the late Carlo Pesenti, the Italian industrialist and financier...
Another of Violet's initiatives at that time [first half of 1972] was undertaken from Brussels. The operator Violet had chosen was an eccentric man, with the delectable name of Florimond Damman. Having made a small fortune from property deals, he ran a tiny but effective outfit with the grandiloquent name of the Académie Européenne des Sciences Politiques. The three of us - Damman, Violet and I - drafted an appeal for 'Peace without Frontiers', in which we defined our concept of a true détente.
After the first election victory but before taking office, Reagan had appointed another of his Californian friends, William A. Wilson, to liaise both with the Pinay Cercle (see Ch. XV) and with The 61.
OUR GERMAN NETWORK gave us some of our most spectacular successes (see Ch. XVI). Sad to record, however, a regrettable leak in October 1982 destroyed its value to The 61. The earlier leak had been caused by unintended carelessness; the new one by a serious error of judgement. Unknown to us, Hans von Machtenberg had been passing on full reports of our secret meetings to the head of Bavarian State Security, Hans Langemann, in exchange for Langemann's own secret intelligence.
One day, Langemann had a crisis of identity. He wanted his work to be known to the wider world, and recorded his revelations on lengthy audio tapes. In a fit of ideological perverseness, he sold them to the extreme Left glossy magazine Konkret, which had gained notoriety in the 1970s when it channelled KGB money through the East German Stasi to fund the Baader-Meinhof gang (also known as the Rote Armee Fraktion or Red Army Group). 
The Konkret story was picked up by Der Spiegel , which sent a photographer to take pictures of me. As there was no way of stopping the projected story, I 'posed' for him. As with so many stories about the activities of groups with which I had been associated, this one came out as a mish-mash of true and false. There were long passages about the Pinay Cercle, to which of course I did belong.
Much has been written about the Cercle, from the outside, and much of it has been false or misleading. For example, it has been alleged that it was a forum for bringing together 'international linkmen of the Right', such as myself and Robert Moss, with secret service chiefs like Alexandre de Marenches, long-time head of the French SDECE, and Sir Arthur ('Dickie') Franks, sometime head of MI-6. 
There are pitfalls in writing about confidential matters from the outside, and drawing on similarly handicapped material. In fact, neither Marenches nor Dickie Franks ever attended a Pinay Cercle meeting during the years I was involved with it: between 1971 and 1985. There was a very good reason why Marenches would never have been invited. The inspirer and long-serving organiser of the Pinay Cercle was Jean Violet, who for many years had been retained by the SDECE as Special Advocate. As such, he had initiated many highly successful political actions, for which indeed he was awarded the Grand Cross of the French Legion of Honour.
Inevitably, he had made enemies. One of them was a close friend of the Comte de Marenches who, on being appointed Director-General of the SDECE in 1970, closed down Violet's office without notice. The two men - Marenches and Violet - never met (see Ch. XVII).
As for Dickie Franks, he never attended Cercle meetings, for the reason that Directors of SIS do not involve themselves in such private groups. So he was never invited.
It was not until the spring of 1993 that I learned the details of Jean Violet's real secret service role when General de Gaulle was in power. A background document was given to me by one of Violet's ex-colleagues. Ironically, a few years before Gabriel Decazes and I started spying on de Gaulle, Violet was masterminding a Service Spécial to promote the General's objectives in defence and foreign policy.
The document began with a paragraph of wistful praise for Britain's remarkable achievements in intelligence and clandestine action. But France, too, offered a precedent: Louis XV had set up a special service known to the few who were aware of it as the Secret du Roi. This service reported directly to the King, bypassing the Foreign Ministry of the day.
Only two people were aware of de Gaulle's latter-day model: General Grossin, the then head of the SDECE, and a certain 'Monsieur X'. It required no great deductive powers to assume that Monsieur X had to be Maître Violet, but Jean refused to comment when I asked him. My other source, however, confirmed my supposition. No wonder, in retrospect, that Violet's shadowy role and apparently bottomless purse stirred resentful envy among his colleagues and poisoned Alexandre de Marenches's mind against Violet, whom he had never met. By far the dominant theme in de Gaulle's foreign policy (as Violet interpreted it) was Franco-German reconciliation. A genius at (non-violent) operations of influence, Violet played an historically key role between 1957 and 1961 in bringing about this rapprochement, which is the real core of the European Community. He had developed a close friendship with Antoine Pinay, who had served as French Premier in 1951 under the unstable Fourth Republic. At a lower level, a complementary role was played by his SDECE colleague Antoine Bonnemaison (see Chs III and IV). Violet was the go-between in secret meetings between Pinay and the West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, and his coalition partner Franz Josef Strauss. These paved the way for Charles de Gaulle's own encounters with Adenauer, which culminated in the Franco-German Treaty of January 1963.
When that goal had been achieved, de Gaulle told the Service Spécial that this was 'the most important fact that France and the world had known in centuries'. For a man as careful as de Gaulle in his choice of words, this was a measure of his gratitude to Grossin and Violet.
Another task of special importance to de Gaulle was, of course, Algeria. The Grossin-Violet strategy was to win over the twenty republics of Latin America, so that whenever the issue came before the United Nations, any anti-French resolution was bound to be defeated. During this early phase of de Gaulle's presidency, such resolutions were backed by the Soviet bloc.
The Service Spécial also cleared the way for de Gaulle's triumphal tour of Latin America in 1964. As a gesture of gratitude to 'Monsieur X', President Castello Branco of Brazil invited Jean Violet to an 'official' visit to his country.
The Pinay Cercle was a natural offshoot of Jean Violet's Franco-German activities. To describe it as a 'forum' is strictly accurate. There were no members in a formal sense. It was an informal group of broadly like-minded people, who met twice a year, once in America, once in Europe. Usually, some distinguished figure was invited to speak. Among the guest speakers at times when I was present were Strauss, Henry Kissinger (for whom I interpreted), Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Rockefeller, and Giulio Andreotti.
Within the wider Cercle, a smaller gathering called the Pinay Group met on occasion to discuss possible action. In 1980, Violet, who had serious health problems, asked me to take over the Pinay Cercle. In practice, I mostly shared the burden with a leading German member of the Cercle, Franz-Josef Bach, who had run Adenauer's secretariat and later served as ambassador in Tehran.
In Pinay's day, the old man himself presided over the meetings, but the chairmanship of each session was shared out among others, including Pesenti, Sir Peter Tennant, and myself. On my initiative, Julian Amery, MP (later Lord Amery), took over the presidency. I retired from the Cercle in 1985, having decided that it was making excessive demands on my staff and office time.
Some outsiders have jumped to the wrong conclusion that the Pinay Cercle was the same as my 'secret' organisation. One of them was a CIA veteran whom I had known since my FWF days. There was in fact some minor overlapping, but the functions of The 61, which I have been describing, were quite different. Some members of The 61's 'Politburo' also attended the Cercle meetings; others did not. Most members of the Cercle were unaware of the existence of The 61. Many on The 61's networks had no connection with the Cercle.
For all these reasons, the Langemann 'revelations' were deeply misleading. Hans von Machtenberg's indiscretion was nevertheless considered unacceptable, and The 6l's directorate decided to sever relations with him. I was personally very sorry over this rift, as I held Hans in high esteem.
An example of the damage done. On the last day of October 1984, I addressed the Belgian Atlantic Association in Liège. When I sat down, the first questioner from the floor was a local leader of the Ecologiste Party (the Belgian equivalent of the German Grime). As soon as he started speaking, it was clear that he was reading a French translation of the passages about me in the Spiegel article based on the Langemann papers. It was also clear from the way he was reading that until the translation reached him he had never heard of me.
The audience, mainly members of the Atlantic Association, was heavily on my side, and hostile voices were raised. Within minutes, the speaker was physically evicted from the hall.
I speculated at the time that the fact that a French translation of the Spiegel article had been circulated in advance of my arrival indicated a KGB involvement. In conversation with me, some years later, a senior KGB defector confirmed this interpretation. The choice of a 'Green' to attack me was not coincidental: the KGB residencies had standing orders to penetrate and influence Green and ecological groups. I could hardly complain. After all, this was a secret war.
 See Melvin J. Lasky, 'Ulrike Meinhof and the Baader-Meinhof Gang' in encounter, June 1975; also Hans Josef Horchem, 'West Germany's Red Army Anarchists', (Conflict Studies No. 46, ISC, June 1974; the same author's Die Verlorene Revolution: Terrorismus in Deutschland (BusseSeewald, Herford, 1988); and Jillian Becker, Hitler's Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Gang (Michael Joseph, London, 1977).
 'Victory for Strauss'(English in the original) in Der Spiegel, No. 37, 1982.
 See David Teacher in Lobster (An occasional 'investigative' review published in Hull) No. 18 (October 1989)
AT THE CERCLE meeting in Washington in December 1980, Georges Albertini had brought along a quiet Frenchman named Francois de Grossouvre. This was an impressive example of his foresight. De Grossouvre, a physician, was the closest friend and confidant of the Socialist leader and presidential candidate Francois Mitterrand. For many years, Grossouvre had carried out special missions for Mitterrand. By nature and training, he was self-effacing. He played no part in our debates, but listened carefully, taking notes.
Five months later, Francois Mitterrand narrowly defeated Valéry Giscard d'Estaing in France's presidential elections. One of his first actions was to appoint de Grossouvre as his coordinator of security and intelligence. Shortly after, having obtained his direct line from Albertini, I went to see him in his modest office in the Elysée Palace.
We had reacted with alarm to Mitterrand's victory, but de Grossouvre reassured me. I expressed concern over the new President's appointment of four Communists as ministers in his first government. De Grossouvre's comment has stuck in my mind. 'One thing you have to understand about Francois Mitterrand is that he has a visceral hatred of the Communists.' He did not explain the nature of this hatred which, later history suggests, probably reflected less an opposition to their policies than of Mitterrand's perception of the Communists as the main obstacle to his authority. In January 1976, The 61 knew from a confidential source, Mitterrand had made a vehement attack on NATO during a closed meeting of West European Socialists and Social Democratic parties at Helsingor, Denmark. Among those present was Harold Wilson, still Prime Minister. In office, however, Mitterrand staunchly supported the Alliance, and never wavered in his determination to maintain France's independent nuclear deterrent.
As for the nuclear freeze campaign, it was designed to maintain the Soviet superiority over the United States in intercontinental missiles.
Because of the self-destructive actions already described, the NATO allies were ill equipped to respond to these campaigns, and in fact showed no signs of responding for a dangerously long time. NATO's two-track resolution was indeed a self-inflicted trap, in that it played into the hands of the Soviet 'peace' campaigns, by encouraging negotiations with the Soviet Union, in preference to deployment of the Pershing II and Cruise missiles.
The long-term Allied plan - in the event of failure in the arms reduction talks with the USSR - was to deploy a grand total of 572 weapons: 464 Cruise missiles and 108 Pershing IIs. These were to be shared out among five countries: Britain, West Germany, Holland, Belgium, and Italy. Not surprisingly, these countries were the main Soviet targets in the new World Peace Council campaigns.
France was in a special position, having withdrawn from NATO's integrated command, and stuck with General de Gaulle's decision to rely on its own nuclear deterrent. The fact that there was never any question of deploying the new Western weapons on French soil enabled President Mitterrand to speak with some freedom in favour of their deployment -in countries other than France.
Over breakfast at Claridge's in London, I discussed the problem with a French visitor. We agreed that the best way to mobilise Mitterrand on this issue was to persuade him to invite General Gallois to brief him on the SS-20 danger. We both knew Pierre Gallois. I had translated his important Conflict Study analysing the SS-20 threat, and interpreted for him at Pinay Cercle meetings. Jean Violet gave him a 'genius' rating.
The man seated next to me on the Air France flight from Algiers to Paris in February 1958 was reading something that caught my eye at an oblique angle: a letter from General Raoul Salan [soon involved in the April 1961 Algiers Putsch and later co-creator and head of the terrorrist OAS, which tried to restart the Algerian war and assassinate De Gaulle] thanking him in unusually warm terms for the series of talks on psychological war he had been giving to the French Army in Algeria....
So I asked my travelling companion what he thought of the situation in Algeria... Assuming I was French, the man launched into a hair-raising torrent of revelations.
His main theme was the prevailing state of mind within the French armed forces. It was a question not so much of damaged morale as of revolutionary aspirations - not Communist aspirations, but nationalism of the extreme Right. Stunned by their unforseen defeat in Indochina... They were not prepared to contemplate a second defeat. France had to fight its way back to 'greatness'.
Apart from my occasional supplementary question, I just listened. After more than a hour of it, I thought I should let my interlocutor know that I was British, not French. He looked surprised, but soon recovered his composure. On learning that I was the editor of The Economist's Foreign Report, he told me that he had long been a regular reader and admirer of 'my' bulletin.
He introduced himself as Colonel Antoine Bonnemaison of the French Ministry of National Defense. He was a lively personality, with large brown eyes and a deep voice. Bonnemaison changed my life...
[Bonnemaison] ran a mysterious outfit called the Centre de Recherche du Bien Politique. There was an Aristotelian ring to this untranslatable name: a Research Centre for the Political Good - 'good' in this sense as the antithesis of 'evil'.
One day in 1959, Bonnemaison invited me to join one of the international colloques he had been running since 1955. The venue chosen was Frankfurt, and Antoine explained that, for reasons to be clarified later, he would introduce me as 'a member of the French delegation'.
Bonnemaison had been speaking in riddles. 'A few of us meet, twice a year, to see what we can do...' 'In what context?' I asked. 'Can you be more specific?' 'To try to find ways... To talk about problems,' was all he would say...
The Frankfurt meeting took place in the German equivalent of a stately home. The atmosphere was mysterious and intriguing. There were about thirty-five participants. The French delegation numbered ten, plus myself. On this, as on later occasions, I was the only journalist present. Bonnemaison had explained that the proceedings would be strictly confidential. Specifically, the fact that these meetings were taking place was not to be mentioned publicly. However, there was nothing to prevent me from using any information imparted during the meeting. There were only two other delegations: from the German Federal Republic and the Netherlands.
Although Bonnemaison remained reticent, the truth about the colloques emerged in the private exchanges I had with other participants. Assuming that, as a member of the French delegation, I must have been briefed before my arrival, the Dutch and Germans treated me as an insider. The colloques had been launched by Antoine Bonnemaison as an exercise in Franco-German rapproachement. Under the normal cover of his military rank in the cavalry, Bonnemaison was in fact a senior officer of the French equivalent of MI-6: the Service de Documentation Exterieure et de Contre-Espionage (SDECE).
Bonnemaison was the organising secretary, but the French delegation was led by General Jean Olié, de Gaulle's Chief of the General Staff, with whom I struck up a cordial relationship. The blend of 'delegates' was basically the same in all three groups: intelligence, both civil and military; leading academics; non-academic political or economic specialists; one or two trusted politicians; leaders of industry; trade union leaders; and clerics of various denominations.
The German delegation was led by General Foertsch, an impressive man who had served as a senior deputy to the better-known General Reinhard Gehlen, creator of the post-war West German Federal Intelligence Service, the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst). Two regulars were Professors Lades and Kernig, both specialists on Communism in general and East Germany in particular. There was a German equivalent of Bonnemaison's Centre: the Deutsche Vereinigung für Ost-West Beziehungen (the German Alliance for East-West Relations). The Vereinigung was based in Munich, appropriately close to the headquarters of the BND at Pullach.
The Dutch delegation was led by a massive and delightful man named Einthoven, lately retired as head of the Dutch security service. With him was a younger man, C.C. ('Kees') van den Heuvel, tall and athletic, who had played a heroic role in the Dutch Resistance during the Nazi occupation.
I was captivated by these meetings, which were very productive in terms of facts, background, analysis and intelligence discussion. The colloques took place alternately in France and Germany. Between the first and second of those I attended, Bonnemaison had revealed my true nationality, discreetly, to the other delegations...
To my mind, this was one modest way to help fill one of the gaps created by Britain's self-exclusion from Europe...
In his own time, Bonnemaison explained to me that his main function was to coordinate the work of French psychological war organizations, known collectively as the Cinquième Bureaux. His specific target was Leninism... He looked grave. 'Marxism is a philosophy. It has a right to existence. Leninism is activism and a threat to the State.'