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Hilaire du Berrier and the Assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas

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After the failed 1961 French generals’ putsch, the OAS was determined to halt de Gaulle’s move toward Algerian independence at all costs. The price was not simply removal of the president, but deadly removal. The war between de Gaulle and the OAS had ramped up when de Gaulle’s political changes continued to move forward in Algeria. In May 1961, the French government had started negotiations with the FLN. These talks did not have immediate success, and over the course of the next year the level of extreme violence had escalated. Finally, in March 1962, a cease-fire was reached, setting the stage for the Evian negotiations that would eventually lead to independence for Algeria. Taking command of the “secret army” was General Raoul Salan who by the time Pierre Lafitte made note of him in his 1963 diary was still in prison on orders of President de Gaulle on November 22. However, Hilaire du Berrier, the North Dakota native described as an ambitious soldier of fortune, pilot and spy — identified by Lafitte on the same day as Salan — was not. Regardless, it appears that the former leader of the OAS preferred as the next leader of France and Algeria by powerful Texas oilmen, and his sympathizers including du Berrier and Jacques Soustelle were at the very least a rallying point for events in play in the spring of 1963. . . . 


Gen. Edwin Walker always maintained that the German newspaper was the first to alert him about Oswald having taken a shot at him, but jottings in Pierre Lafitte’s datebook made a few days before the attempt on Walker occurred make this seem unlikely. As noted in a previous chapter, Lafitte wrote on April 7, 1963: “Walker – Lee and pictures— planned soon- can he do it? Won’t.”\ The following day, Lafitte made a note: Hal du Berrier (Salan R.).

. . . Lesser known than the German newspaper’s scoop positioning “the patsy” a hundred yards from the window of Walker’s house on the night of April 10 are the remarks made in the aftermath of the assassination by “Hal” du Berrier, the correspondent who wrote primarily for the American Mercury which was owned by J. Russell McGuire with General Edwin Walker as the magazine’s military advisor. Du Berrier revealed that he was staying in Walker’s home in Dallas on November 22. It should also be noted that du Berrier’s history included a role in the Spanish Civil War, service in Bill Donovan’s OSS perhaps providing him introduction to the president of World Commerce Corporation Frank Ryan and Otto Skorzeny, and spying for Italian fascists. By the late 1950s, he had begun publishing "H du B Reports, A Foreign Affairs Letter," with particular focus on Saigon, Vietnam, a concern he shared with his close friend, French rightist General Raoul Salan. 

Seizing the opportunity to capitalize on the assertion of conservative writer William F. Buckley (another featured political essayist for McGuire’s American Mercury before a falling out) that had an anti-communist been responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy, a bloodbath in the United States might well have occurred, Hargis promoted a report from “French” correspondent Hilaire du Berrier who had been staying in Walker’s home when Kennedy was murdered. Hargis noted that while the report was frightening, it warranted consideration because it somehow verified the view of the highly esteemed conservative, Bill Buckley, thus giving du Berrier’s account greater stature and a wider audience than it might otherwise have been accorded. Although Buckley had for months been speaking out against the rapid growth of the fringe movement within the Republican Party, the John Birch Society of which Hargis and Walker were members, the leader of the Christian Crusade apparently recognized this brief window to advance the Oswald legend on Buckley’s coattails. . . . 

Billy Joe Hargis, infamous religious firebrand traveling the US with General Edwin Walker under the banner, "Operation Midnight Ride" [did we see parallels sixty years later with General Mike Flynn's "Reawaken America / Army of God" roadshow?] quoted Hilaire du Berrier directly:

“Out of the Dallas crucible came facts which realistic America must face: for meanness, viciousness, dishonesty, and absence of all sense of honor, the groups referred to as the American Right are no match for the organized, entrenched, and internationally-supported Left lined up against them. Radio, TV, the press, government agencies, and militant politicians took a position against America’s interests and for the Left. Your correspondent [Hilaire du Berrier] was in Dallas when it happened. The first announcement of the killing was still coming over the air when the first threatening telephone call reached the home of General Edwin A. Walker who also lives in Dallas. . . . General Walker was out of Texas at the time of the death of the President. Had he been in Dallas, he would have been assassinated by the Left that is shouting ‘Hate Mongers! Bigots!’ today.” 

Du Berrier further bemoaned, “Though out in force, Dallas police never stopped or questioned a driver circling the home of the General who had been shot at on April 10, 1963,” and then skillfully du Berrier introduced the proscribed backstory of Oswald the patsy, “by the same Communist assassin who would later take the life of the President of the United States." So, it was du Berrier, close confidant of General Raul Salan of the OAS — both of whom are mentioned by Lafitte in April just forty-eight hours before a bullet lodged in the wall of Walker’s study the night of April 10 — who reinforced, if not helped initiate, the legend that Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist responsible for both April 10 and November 22. 


Edited by Leslie Sharp
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