The friends of Monsieur le Baron
I was recently suggested by historian Tess Johnston to investigate the story of Baron Reginald Auxion Ruffé. This French lawyer and author is mainly known for his pro-Japanese sympathies during late 30’s.
But who was he exactly and what is the actual story around this rather shadowy character? I decided to know more.
Auxion de Ruffé 54 Sinan Road
In 1941, the sixty-six years old Baron was already living in China for 30 years. Originated from a patrician family of the South West of France, he rapidly got promoted from lawyer to a judge in Indochina before he arrived in Shanghai in 1910.
In addition to being a lawyer, Auxion de Ruffé was also a popular author of his time, writing many essays about the political situation of China. He showed a rather critical attitude towards the Kuomingtang governement described by him as both xenophobic and corrupted (“China and Chinese: The new yellow peril” 1926, “Is China mad? 1928)
A complex political landscape
Wang Jingwei, President of the Puppet Government of China
Starting from 1932 though, the political situation in China changed dramatically under pressure of the Japanese Empire. In 1937, the Japanese successful attack on China resulted in the nomination of a new puppet government based in Nanjing with Wang Jingwei at its head. Chiang Kai Shek had no choice but to exile himself in Chongqing to keep on fighting the Japanese.
Pierre Drieu la Rochelle
In France, a few intellectuals like Drieu La Rochelle became close to rightist mouvements such as the catholic, antisemitic and antiparliamentary Action Française. Auxion de Ruffé made no exception when he wrote as a regular correspondant in the French pro-nazi newspaper “Gringoire”. He also started involving with the pro-Japanese municipality of Shanghai as a personal counselor of Mayor Fu Xiao’an. This relationship turned out to be fatal.