Historical Dictionary



Influential, behind-the-scenes French military intelligence officer stationed in southern Vietnam during most of the Indochina War. He graduated from Saint-Cyr in 1932 in the same class as Roger Trinquier, a close friend and fellow intelligence officer in Vietnam. A Corsican, Savani became a lieutenant in 1934 and made his first tour of duty in Indochina in 1938. His activities during World War II remain unknown. He returned to Indochina sometime in late 1945 or 1946. By 1948, he was running the Deuxième Bureau for French forces in southern Vietnam. In 1947–1948, he masterminded the defection of non-communist religious, nationalist, and criminal groups to French forces fighting the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in the south, including the Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, and Binh Xuyen. (Trinquier tried to do much the same in the north in the early 1950s among minority ethnic groups.) Savani was married to a southern Vietnamese and apparently spoke the language well. In 1955, he published Visages et images du Sud Viet Nam and from 1956 drew upon his experiences in southern Vietnam in lectures he delivered at the Centre des hautes études d’administration musulmane as France took up another colonial war in Algeria. See also ALGERIAN WAR; MAURICE BELLEUX; MARCEL BAZIN; PIERRE PERRIER; SERVICE DE DOCUMENTATION EXTÉRIEURE ET CONTRE-ESPIONNAGE; SÛRETÉ FÉDÉRALE; OPIUM; PUBLIC SECURITY SERVICES; INTELLIGENCE SERVICES, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM.