Logo Utrecht University




Edouard Theodore Lefoulon

Edouard Lefoulon started a career in the military in 1859, but, after his father passed away, he had to resign within years in order to provide for his mother. He took on a more secure occupation at the Chemins de fer de l’Est in Paris. During the Paris Commune in the spring of 1871, the Paris police archives show, Lefoulon was almost shot in an attempt to help those ‘who refused to participate in the rebellious movement’ escape the city. Subsequently, Lefoulon decided to apply for police inspector in 1872. Following several promotions throughout the years, he was appointed principal inspector of the Prefecture’s political police (a position with a very long wait for ‘civil’ candidates like himself) in 1890. As such, he was reputed for chasing and arresting various notorious anarchists throughout Europe: after his own statements, he would arrest 285 comdamnés par contumace, Boulangists and notably anarchists, and newspapers depicted him as the man who had arrested ‘one hundred eighty-five notorious criminals’ in Paris. In March 1895, the Turkish ambassador to France requested the immediate employment of Lefoulon in Constantinople, after the personal desire of Sultan Abdulhamid II. There, he would assist Celestin Bonin, an official of the Paris Prefecture who was delegated since the early 1880s as advisor of the Ottoman Minister of Police and head of the Sultan’s police. The bloody confrontations between Ottoman forces and Armenians, and the internal Ottoman discourse connecting Armenians with the notion of a worldwide anarchist conspiracy most probably was the leading argument behind his appointment. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs acknowledged ‘the circumstances in which Abdul Hamid has expressed his desire’. In Constantinople, Lefoulon continued his Parisian-style operations, and investigated political opponents in the empire and abroad. Following the Armenian occupation of the Imperial Ottoman Bank in August 1896, Lefoulon followed the perpetrators into Marseille and Switzerland. He noticed rallies for the Armenian cause in Geneva and Lausanne, and Armenian fundraisings in Berne. When Bonnin retired in July 1897, Lefoulon succeeded him as advisor of the Police Minister and general inspector of the Ottoman Police. During the same month, Marie-François Goron visited Constantinople for a fortnight to examine its police and to suggest Lefoulon improvements. He introduced Parisian police methods regarding surveillance and modelled crowd control after the ideas of Paris Prefect Louis Lépine. Following the anti-anarchist conference of Rome in 1898, elements of scientific policing like photography and the Bertillon methods were included in the Ottoman administration. Officials from the entire empire received training by Lefoulon in Constantinople – although his prime activities remained focussed on the security of the Sultan and the development of the secret police. Besides, Lefoulon was responsible for the safety of high-ranked foreign visitors. When the German emperor visited Constantinople, for instance, he collaborated with his personal body guard, Gustav Steinhauer (who conducted secret missions with Melville in London, too). Protecting royals, moreover, allowed domestic police officials to come in touch with their foreign colleagues and governmental agents. Starting 1901, the director of the sûreté générale, René Cavard started a fruitless campaign to decorate Lefoulon chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, after he saw him at work directly and ‘would be happy to see his excellent career rewarded, dedicated to a persevering zeal for maintaining order and safeguarding public safety.’ A newspaper, too, stressed his contributions to the ‘predominance of French influence throughout the Turkish Empire’. It was to no avail nevertheless, although Lefoulon received many other, foreign decorations until his retirement in 1906 (reasons for these decorations could not be found).

You must be logged in to post a comment.