Affaire des fiches

L'Affaire des Fiches de délation (“affair of the cards of denunciation”) was a political scandal in France in 1904-1905 in which it was discovered that the militantly anticlerical War Minister under Emile Combes, General Louis André, was determining promotions based on religious behavior. Using members of the Freemasons to watch officers, André assembled a huge card index on public officials, detailing which were Catholic and who attended Mass, with a view to preventing their promotions.[1][lower-alpha 1]

Both Combes and André were Freemasons,[2][3] and much of the information had been collected by the Masonic Grand Orient de France.[4]


According to Piers Paul Read, "The information, as it came in, was entered on cards or fiches. These would be marked either Corinth or Carthage -- the Corinthians being the sheep who should be promoted and the Carthaginians, the goats who should be held back. An officer reported to be 'perfect in all respects; excellent opinions,' would be marked as a Corinthian: another who, 'though a good officer, well reported on, takes no part in politics,' would nonetheless be designated a Carthaginian because he, 'went to Mass with his family,' and sent his six children to Catholic schools. A bachelor officer who went to Mass was by definition of a reactionary disposition. Officers loyal to the republican ideals were encouraged to report the opinions voiced by their colleagues in the mess."[5]

In 1904, Jean Bidegain, the Assistant Secretary of Grand Orient de France, secretly sold a selection of the Fiches to Gabriel Syveton of the Ligue de la Patrie Francaise for 40,000 francs. The resulting scandal led directly to the resignation of French Prime Minister Emile Combes.[6]

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Further reading

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