Accueil Biographie de L.R.

Témoignage de Lazare Rachline auprès des services secrets britanniques

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Note de l'auteur

Procès-verbal du témoignage de Lazare Rachline auprès du Special Operations Executive, le service britannique de sabotage et d'exfiltration, créé en 1940 par Churchill. National Archives de Kew Gardens, cote HS 9/1223/5.







Father : Jacques RACHLINE
Mother : Katia Jeanne CHAPIRET

PARTICULARS OF RELATIVES NOW IN ENEMY OR ENEMY-OCCUPIED OR CONTROLLED COUNTRIES (Husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sisters or daughters only)



27 FFC RACHET, Lucien References below
alias Lucien RACHET

Name RACHLINE, Lazare
P.T.C. 11.4.44 (M.I.5 & C only)
M.I.5 advise 11.4.44 Copies of LRC interrogation reports on this man have been forwarded to you, 17403. We have no further information about him.
Born 25.12.1905, Paris Occupation National. French Relatives Father – Jacques, Mother – Katia Jeanne Chapiret
Remarks RF/T 15.6.44 It is not yet determined as to whether he will be employed or not.

Landed 27.10.43 from Gibraltar
SD signed
CSA signed

Interrogation by BSS 11.11.43
Code name LUCIEN
An extremely able man who has done much valuable work.

BSS to D/CEM .26.6.44.
The examination of this agent has now been completed and he should be handed over to D/F Section.

3.6.44. Arrived from Gibraltar.


  • REAL NAME : Lazare Rachline
  • JOB : Lieutenant
  • INTERROGATED BY : Major Hunt
  • DATE : 27th February, 1945.
  • SERIAL NO. : P/DF/9


Escape from German prison camp

Informant who is a Jew, was a prisoner of war in stalag IVb in 1940. Owing to his pro-allied activities in the prison camp, among which he mentioned organising concerts at which the Marseillaise and God save the King were sang, he decided that his position vis-a-vis the German camp authorities has becoming somewhat delicate. He therefore formed a plan for escape and managed to rally FRANCE successfully in March 1941.

In FRANCE he found that his wife had already assumed a false identity and had gone into hiding in the Zone Sud. From then onwards he only saw his wife on rare occasions and never at her house.

His flat and other premises in the Nord Zone had already been visited by the Germans in the hope of finding him.

Contact with the CARTE organisation

Informant established himself in LYON and looked round to find some [...] by which he could contact a resistance group. He was put in touch with ZERAPHA in MARSEILLE. Informant already knew ZERAPHA from pre-war days, as both had been active members of the Ligue Contre Racisme. He was told by friends that ZERAPHA had means of exfiltrating people to ENGLAND and was engaged in variety of sabotage operations. When he met ZERAPHA he found this to be completely false and gave it as an instance of the sort of rumours that were liable to collect [?] round some who was taking a small part in resistance at this time. ZERAPHA had contacts but was unable to assist informant’s exfiltration to ENGLAND. He put informant in touch with the ‘Liberation’ movement and for a short time he distributed clandestine papers. Through one of ZEPHARA’s contacts he met GERARD alias CARTE at Antibes. CARTE was full of schemes, mostly of a very ambitious nature, for organizing resistance throughout FRANCE. Informant gave in instant of CARTE grandiose projects which never came to anything, the original interior radio posts through the country which CARTE asked Informant to supervise. Informant states that he was constantly being asked by CARTE to undertake similar projects which were then never mentioned again.

CARTE boasted to Informant that he had safe houses all over FRANCE, and on the next occasion when they met, the latter was asked to provide a house at TOULOUSE. Generally dissatisfied with the fruitless schemes proposed by CARTE, Informant continued his search for a means of reaching ENGLAND.

Meeting with VIC

In or around May 1942, Informant met a lawyer named GOEAU-BRISSONIÈRE who asked him if he would like to meet a genuine Intelligence Service Agent, whereupon he was presented to VIC (real name: GERSON) at the hotel Cecil, NICE. VIC asked informant if he would undertake a special task for him. This task was to effect the escape of certain prisoners, among them LIEWER alias STAUNTON, MERCIER alias George NOBBE; Jack HAYES, LANGELAAN and TROTSBAS from MAUZAC concentration camp. For the first time informant had been offered a definite job to do, he accepted it willingly. He was given by VIC a contact address in LYON which he was to report to after the escape had been effected. From May until July 1942 he was engaged in planning this escape.

Escape from MAUZAC concentration camp

Assisted by Jean LAMBERT alias CHRISTIAN and a lorry driver whose name Informant cannot remember but who was known as LE FRISE, Informant planned the operation to take place on the night of 15/16 July when there was no moon. He has previously visited the prison with GOEAU-BRISSONIÈRE who was counsel for LANGELAAN, and had discovered that an old friend of his, Pierre BLOCH, was also in prison. He therefore get in touch with Mme. BLOCH and she and GOEAU-BRISSONIÈRE acted as contact between Informant and the prisoners. Two warders were bribed to assist the escape.

Informant asked LE FRISE to produce transport from the prison to the safe house. The letter produced six bicycles, but as the number to be evacuated had now reached eleven, this was obviously entirely useless, and eventually LE FRISE produced a small baker’s van.

It had been arranged with the wife of one of the warders that she should telephone, using a prearranged code, to indicate the time the escape was to take place. Since the patrol passed every two hours, it was decided to effect the escape at either midnight or 2 o’clock in the morning. The routes from the prison were carefully reconnoitered by day and night, and the most deserted route chosen.

On the night of the 15/16 July, Informant, LAMBERT and LE FRISE, after receiving the telephone message stating that the escape should take place at 2 o’clock in the morning, arrived outside the prison. It was not until 03.30 that the prisoners eventually appeared. They were crammed into the baker’s van, one on top of the other, and driven off by LE FRISE to a safe house 55 to 60 Kms. from the prison.

Informant and LAMBERT after an adventurous journey during which they suspected that they were being followed by Gendarme, went to LYON. It was VIC’s responsibility to contact the prisoners once they had reached their safe house, provide them with identity papers, and exfiltrate them.


Informant met VIC as arranged, and was thoroughly disgusted when, having told VIC of the success of the escape, the latter only remarked ‘good’, and gave him a rendezvous for a few days later.` At their next rendezvous, Informant reproached VIC for his lack of gratitude. VIC pointed out that he did not wish to stay with Informant longer than was necessary, and he considered that Informant might be followed. It appeared that GOEAU-BRISSONIERE had been arrested shortly after the escape as he had returned to his own house in CANNES and has stated to the French police that he had been in touch with Informant. The police had wished to hush up the affair and he was later released.

Informant became firm friends with VIC, who refused his request to be exfiltrated to ENGLAND and recruited him as his Lieutenant, stating that he required somebody to take his place when he returned to ENGLAND.

BRIEF HISTORY OF ACTIVITIES AFTER JOINING THE VIC CIRCUIT From then onwards Informant worked in the VIC circuit, either as a Lieutenant to VIC or as organiser during VIC’s absence, until he became blown and was forced to leave FRANCE in July 1943, passing through PERPIGNAN to SPAIN. He was arrested in SPAIN and was imprisoned for three and a half months, finally arriving in ENGLAND in November 1943.

Second Mission

Informant returned to FRANCE in March 1944 as Delegue General for General DE GAULLE in PARIS. His job was to nominate the principal resistance chiefs who had been selected for administrative positions after the liberation, and gave them their orders. He had been given express orders by General DE GAULLE that he was to return to LONDON by the beginning of June.

In order to ensure that his return would be certain by the time specified, Informant approached the DF Section who promised him every facility for his exfiltration, either by plane, boat, or over the frontier. He arranged a contact address in PARIS with VIC.

Informant was infiltrated into FRANCE by a sea operation, and having accomplished his mission, left with VIC via SPAIN. This exfiltration was so successful that it only took six days to reach LONDON.

Third Mission

In July 1944 Informant was sent back to FRANCE by General DE GAULLE with a mission to remain in the Maquis until the PARIS rising and then to seize control of the Ministry of the Interior and act as Minister of the Interior until the Government arrived.

He was to be landed by plane in the AIN Maquis. However the plane could not find the lights and Informant was landed in CORSICA. From there he was taken to ALGIERS for a further consultation, sent back to CORSICA again and the plane left with the intention of bringing him back to LONDON in order to make a further landing attempt. On their way over FRANCE they passed over the AIN Marquis, and finding the lights were lit, a landing was made.

His mission proved successful and Informant states that for eight days he was Minister of the Interior.


Identity Cards

After Informant left GERMANY he was forced to obtain false identity papers. He was fortunate enough to make friends with a Commissaire de Police at LYON. Through him he obtained a stock of identity cards made out in false names and properly registered, both for himself and for either members of the VIC circuit. He was forced to change his identity constantly. He possessed a number of photos of himself and of VIC which were always in his possession. It is possible that one of these photos may have strayed and found its way into the possession of the German police. (See later under Casualties).

Cover Stories

Informant adopted a variety of professions, among with were lawyer, professor of philosophy and consulting engineer. He states that he always chose professions which he knew something about and could talk about if questioned. These professions however, would not stand up to serious investigation since he was unable to register himself in any commercial houses, law courts, etc.


Informant states that he always thought of an alibi whenever he undertook any clandestine activity.


No attempt was made to enter into details about the VIC organisation, for which see P/DF/5, P/DF/8, and the interrogation of VIC. Generally speaking, Informant confirmed the organisation as shown in the diagram attached to P/DF/5. Couriers and Safe Houses Informant mentioned that in addition to LOUISE and DENISE, JANINE was also employed as a courier. He himself occasionally accompanied agents as far as PERPIGNAN. In addition to having safe houses in LYON and PARIS, Informant states there was also a safe house at MARSEILLE.

Route across the Spanish Frontier

Informant recruited guides through PEPOT and MARTIN who met the agents at PERPIGNAN and conducted them over the frontier. There were various methods of crossing the frontier; at the beginning of Informant’s work, passengers were able to travel by train up to the frontier accompanied by a guide and were passed over by an arrangement with the Spanish guards who were bribed. Occasionally they were able to provide the passengers with Spanish safe conducts.

When this method became blown, passengers were sent by bus to a village 25 to 30 Kms from the frontier, and from there on had to proceed on foot.

The next method was to send passengers in a lorry hidden amongst various forms of merchandise. This proved very insecure.

Finally passengers were sent over on foot. Although this was the most arduous way of crossing the frontier, Informant is certain that it was the most secure. He and VIC crossed by this means in March 1944.

7. PAY

To start with, the guides were paid by the month and later were paid a certain sum for each passenger. Finally the following system was adopted: The courier gave the passenger one half of a 5 fr. note, retaining the other half herself or himself. When the passenger reached his destination in SPAIN, he sent back his half of the 5 fr. note to the courier via the guide, having first marked on it a prearranged code how well the guide had conducted the journey. When the courier received the second half of the 5 fr. note from the guide - which he was able to verify as genuine by its serial number - he paid the guide according to his efficiency as indicated by this passenger on the note. In this way Informant hoped to stimulate greater efficiency in the guides.


Generally speaking, the same security rules for the organisation were used as those mentioned by LEVIN in P/DF/5, but during Informant’s activity it seems that these were not so rigidly applied.


Informant himself never stayed in any one house more than four or five days. He either hired premises or stayed with friends. Whenever possible he arranged for the maximum security precautions to be applied, as an example of which he stated that for a house he had in PARIS he employed a bank clerk who sat in the window of the bank opposite the house and acted as guard. The bank clerk would signal to him when it was safe to enter or alternatively when it was safe for him to leave.


Informant had nothing to add to P/DF/5.


During Informant’s activity there was no permanent W/T operator attached to the VIC circuit. This considerably handicapped their work. Contact with LONDON was maintained through ALAIN’s W/T operator, GREGOIRE alias LE CHENE. Messages to be transmitted were either passed directly to GREGOIRE by VIC, or placed in a letter box for NICHOLAS BOITEUX who was working with ALAIN and who passed them on to the W/T operator. Informant also sent messages via SPAIN but states that this was an extremely inefficient system and a great deal of his mail was lost. He tried to establish a line through SWITZERLAND but this never materialised.



Informant gave the following instance of a control which might have proved serious. He and VIC were travelling from PARIS to PERPIGNAN prior to his departure from FRANCE. A German control officer interrogated himself and VIC on the train for approximately two hours. Since their papers were perfectly in order, Informant can only imagine that they had been denounced. He was asked a number of questions about his profession. At that time he was posing as a professor of philosophy and was able to answer these questions successfully and discuss German and French philosophy with the Gestapo officer. By maintaining their ‘sang-froid’ they were able to bluff their way through this interrogation.


September 1942. Jean LAMBERT alias CHRISTIAN was sent by informant to PERPIGNAN to find contacts in connection with an escape line. Informant thinks that this arrest was due to the fact that LAMBERT was carrying two identity cards and must have been searched at a control.

June 1943. Arrest of ROSINE and her husband JULES (real name: CARNADELLE, see P/DF/5). Informant confirmed that in his opinion Barry KNIGHT alias HOLYWOOD was responsible for this arrest. During ROSINE’s interrogation by the Gestapo she was asked if she knew a certain LUCIEN (Informant). The Gestapo however did not seem to be “au courant” with the set-up of the organisation. Informant considers that Barry KNIGHT, who had been arrested through his own stupidity in LYON prior to this, must have told the Gestapo that he was in touch with a service known as the LUCIEN Service. May 1943. Madame FARRAGI. The reason for the arrest of Mme. FARRAGI is not known. When she was interrogated by the Gestapo she was shown a photo of Informant and the Gestapo gave a description of Informant and Mme. BLOCH. As a result of this and the arrest of ROSINE, Informant considered that ha was completely blown and eventually decided to leave for ENGLAND.

September 10th 1943. BENNET alias ETIENNE. Informant confirmed that this was probably due to the fact that ETIENNE had obtained some soap from the Spanish guide and was arrested as the result of a rafle or search on the train. (See P/DF/5 for further details).


The following information about the operation of escape lines in addition to that already given in P/DF/5 was provided;

Exfiltration of bodies

Once the bodies had been located at the contact address provided by LONDON, either Informant or a courier would contact them to find out their circumstances and what sort of papers they had. If new papers were required, these were provided by Informant either through the Commissaire de police or by a contact he had in PARIS named MARIANNE. The bodies were then conveyed to one of the safe houses belonging to the organisation with orders to stay in the house and not go out.

Prior to their departure, they were provided with tickets and given a description of the courier whom they were to follow. They were also told that if they lost the courier during the journey, they would find him or her at prearranged points. For instance, when changing trains the courier would go to the station bar; on arrival at PERPIGNAN she would stay outside the station on the right hand side until the crowd had dispersed. They were finally told to follow the courier at about 100 yards distance, never more than two walking together.

At PERPIGNAN the courier would lead them to a garden where they would wait until she had gone to the safe house and found the Spanish guide. She would then return to the garden with the guide and after accompanying him a short way, would disappear, leaving the bodies to follow the guide. The courier then went to the safe house and waited for the return of the guide.

The following instance was given of the difficulties that can arise during an exfiltration operation: Through W/T contact, they were informed that three bodies were waiting collection and exfiltration. The bodies were to be contacted in MARSEILLE by the code name of PERDRIX and a password “connaissez-vous un marchand de tissus” with a reply was given by LONDON.

Informant sent a courier to the house given by LONDON to ask if a M.PERDRIX was living there. The courier was informed that no M.PERDRIX was living there but when he pressed the question further, he was told that a Mlle. PERDRIX was living there. She was at the moment in hospital. The courier returned to Informant, and there was some anxiety as to whatever she had been arrested. A message was sent to LONDON asking for further instructions and Informant was told to contact the party at all costs and convey them by the safest means out of FRANCE.

Informant considered that they must be extremely important people, and went himself to the contact address to ask for Mlle. PERDRIX. He was told that she was at the hairdressers. When he got to the hairdressers he found that it was a filthy shop filled with somewhat doubtful women. Having no description of Mlle. PERDRIX he was forced to approach the first women he saw. Fortunately this was Mlle. PERDRIX. He gave her the password which made no impression on her, but when he insisted on the words “marchand de tissus”, she recollected that she had heard it from one of the men living in her house.

Informant therefore insisted that she present him to these men. By this means he contacted the three bodies who turned out to be saboteurs returning from a mission of blowing up Radio Paris. He was rather shocked by their general condition and behaviour. It appeared that they had been their living as ‘maquereaux’. They reproached Informant delaying so long before contacting them.

As the line through SPAIN was not working at this time, a boat operation had been laid on. Informant conveyed them to his own safe house in MARSEILLE and from there to the boat. The signals from the boat were clearly seen from the shore and answered, but the boat did not stop and Informant was forced to bring them back to MARSEILLE and finally to exfiltrate them through PERPIGNAN into SPAIN.

Other operations

In addition to purely exfiltration operations, Informant took part in planning certain jail escapes among which was the escape of OLIVE alias BASSIN and Mlle. MENIER from St. PAUL jail. He states that although LONDON had strict ideas about confining each agent to his job, this was often unreasonable since there was so much more work to be done.


M. RACHELINE could only spare an hour and a half to this interview, and since the VIC circuit had been already adequately covered with interviews with LEVIN, MITTERAND and VIC, greater emphasis was laid on the early history of RACHELINE, showing how he came to be recruited by the VIC circuit, than on the actual organisation of the circuit itself.

M.RACHELINE, who is now head of a large manufacturing firm, is clearly an intelligent and courageous individual. He has been severely affected by the death of his brother Vila RACHELINE alias VICTOIRE to whom he was greatly attached. He lays the blame for his brother’s death on LEVIN whom he considers responsible for not stopping his brother working earlier. It was therefore impossible to ask Informant too many questions about the actual organisation since this would have led him to talk about LEVIN and possibly to have given a prejudiced impression of the latter’s work.

It was evident that informant took a great number of risks during his activities and was engaged in sabotage activities outside the VIC circuit. This fact must have been partly the reason for his being blown.


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