An Angry Russian Sneaked a Pocket Pistol Into a Book Fair to Assassinate the French President
'Russia, my country!' the assassin cried before his execution
On May 6, 1932, Russian emigre Pavel Timofeyevich Gorgulov — a.k.a. Paul Gorguloff — assassinated French president Paul Doumer using an FN Model 1910.
Doumer, elected in June 1931, was visiting a book fair for World War I veteran authors at Paris’s Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. After purchasing several books for his wife and speaking to a number of authors, the 75-year-old president was shot by Gorguloff.
Gorguloff was a Russian emigre who had studied medicine before World War I. During the war he served with the Imperial Russian Army, suffering a severe head wound. After the Russian Revolution broke out, Gorguloff joined the White Russian Army. He left Russia after the civil war and lived in Czechoslovakia before moving to Paris in May 1932.
Gorguloff reportedly felt France and other nations had not done enough to help White Russian forces in the fight against Bolshevism. This was later said to be the motive for his killing of Doumer.
Gorguloff attended the book fair with his concealed pistol. He approached Doumer at around 3:00 P.M. and fired several rounds into the president’s back. One struck him in the right armpit while another hit the base of his skull.
The pistol Gorguloff used was a John Browning-designed .32 ACP FN Model 1910, a small pocket pistol that used the ubiquitous blow-back action and had a seven-round magazine. Gavrilo Princip had used the same type of pistol to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914.
The mortally wounded Doumer is carried from the book fair. Source
Doumer had been speaking to author Claude Farrère. When the president fell wounded, Farrère leaped at Gorguloff and wrestled for his gun. Gorguloff fired several more shots, reportedly wounding Farrère in the arm before the police and members of the public subdued the assassin.
Doumer was rushed to the near by Beaujon Hospital. He suffered severe blood loss from a severed axillary artery near his right armpit. Despite reportedly regaining consciousness, he died 14 hours later on the morning of the May 7.
On the evening of the May 6, U.S. president Herbert Hoover sent Doumer a message wishing him a speedy recovery. ‘The intelligence of the attempt upon Your Excellency’s life at the hands of a dastardly assassin shocks and saddens me,” Hoover wrote. “My fellow countrymen join with me in silent prayer for a speedy recovery that your life may be spared for many years to the country which you have served with such loyalty and zeal.”
Doumer was laid to rest during a state funeral on May 12. Gorguloff’s trial began on July 25. He claimed insanity, but still was sentenced to death. Gorguloff’s appeals failed and on Sept. 14 he was executed by guillotine at La Santé prison. His last words reportedly were, “Russia, my country!”
Today Gorguloff’s FN Model 1910 is at the Musée des Collections Historiques de la Préfecture de Police.