Gang Bonnota


October 17, 2021

Gang Bonnota (fr. La Bande à Bonnot) - French group of illegal anarchists operating in the years 1911-1912 in the territory of France and Belgium. Its aim was to destabilize a society considered to be based on widespread exploitation through the use of violence and criminal offenses.



The Bonnot gang grew out of a group of Anarchia supporters, individualist anarchists, led by Octave Garnier, Raymond Callemin and René Valet. The first of them, in order to increase the popularity and effectiveness of the group, suggested to the other members to focus in their activities on openly breaking the law and carrying out armed robberies. This was to increase the notoriety associated with French anarchists and induce a feeling of insecurity among the wealthy and government circles, considered by individualist anarchists as the main enemies. The actual leader of the gang, however, was an anarchist loosely associated with Anarchy, Jules Bonnot. The group did not develop a single ideological manifesto, its members knew the thoughts of Proudhon, Mikhail Bakunin, Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche. They were also inspired by acts of individual terrorism carried out by French anarchists at the turn of the 20th century and the figures of Auguste Vaillant and Ravachol. Among the members of the group were both ideological anarchist and pacifist activists, as well as common criminals.


On December 21, 1911, the Bonnot gang raided a convoy with money from the Société Générale bank in Paris, using a car stolen a week earlier and robbing more than five thousand francs. A week later, gang members broke into a gun store in the center of the capital, taking several dozen firearms from it, and then using looted firearms, murdered a wealthy industrialist named Moreau, taking 30,000 from his house. francs. At the same time, the gang specialized in thefts of automobiles, most often taken out of their owners' garages. On January 9, 1912, the gang robbed an American weapons factory in Paris, and then carried out further car thefts in Paris and neighboring departments. Plans to steal money from the convoy in Nîmes and then in Alais were unsuccessful due to the double failure of stolen automobiles, which the gang had abandoned. During the attacks, gang members also killed several policemen and employees of the banks under attack. At this point, the police all over the country became involved in the search for "car thugs", and their identity and methods of fighting them became the main topic of discussions in the high-circulation press. However, these efforts were unsuccessful, and in March 1912 Garnier personally contacted the daily Le Matin by letter to ridicule the measures involved in tracking down the gang. In the letter, the author stated that he knew the gang had to fail, but declared that the group would continue to fight with society to the end.


After the gang committed another robbery and theft combined with a double homicide, French police increased funds allocated to prosecuting the group. An additional prize was also awarded by the Société Générale bank. The result was the arrest of most of the gang members by the end of April 1912. Only Bonnot, Garnier and Valet remained free. The first of them was cornered in a house in Choisy le Roi near Paris and died from a head wound he received in a shootout with police on April 28. On May 14, at a house in Nogent-sur-Marne, Valet and Garnier were surrounded by several hundred policemen and soldiers led by the Chief of Police Xavier Guichard. After blowing up the house

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