Real-Life OAS (Organization Armee Secrete) In ‘Monsieur Spade,’ Explained: Did Henri Work For The OAS?


In Scott Frank and Tom Fontana’s Monsieur Spade season 1, we were made privy to a lot of French and Algerian political groups and organizations that had waged war on each other. Algeria had been declared an independent state, and obviously, there were a lot of radicals who hated that fact. We got to know about an organization called the OAS and how it carried out its terrorist activities in the region. Similarly, in Algeria, there was also a resistance group called the FLN that made sure that OAS was never successful in its vendettas. The biggest problem with both of these groups was that they had no regard for human life, and the citizens got to know that they only cared about their own vested interests, and it would be a disaster if they were allowed to govern the nation. The way OAS functioned, it was quite evident from the beginning that people would not perceive it as anything other than a terrorist organization. So, let’s find out if OAS existed in real life too, what its agenda was, and how the series amalgamated fiction with facts and created an engaging narrative.

Spoiler Alert

What Did Real-Life OAS Do?

The Organization Armee Secrete (OAS) was actually a resistance group that came into existence in 1961. The main agenda of the organization was to make Algeria a part of France once again. The OAS was composed of ex-military personnel who believed in the cause and who felt that Algeria should be under colonial rule. In the series Monsieur Spade, we saw that members of the OAS wanted the custody of Zayd because they knew how much they could benefit from it. Obviously, the makers have created this fictional storyline and amalgamated it with real incidents that took place from the time the terrorist organization came into inception. 

The members of the organization had extreme right-wing ideologies, and for them, apart from their agenda, nothing else mattered. OAS could have never achieved the status that they craved, mainly because of their modus operandi. They liked to call themselves a resistance group, but in reality, they were terrorists who didn’t care about the lives of their own countrymen. If they wanted to be a legitimate political group, they should have done things in a manner that could have won the trust of the people. Even if French civilians believed in their ideology, they couldn’t trust organizations like the OAS or FLN.

OAS, as shown in Monsieur Spade, resorted to extreme violence, and that was why, after a point in time, we saw that they came under the radar of French intelligence agencies as well. Algeria was annexed by France in 1830, and in 1834, it became a French military colony. But it was probably around 1955 that political leaders in France realized that if they didn’t suppress the rebel forces in Algeria, then they might have to accept their terms and conditions. The battle of Philippeville was one such tragic event where the commander in chief of the Liberation Front, aka FLN, decided that they would have to amp up their efforts and do something that shook the entire nation. Before that incident, the FLN never attacked civilians, but that was the first time they crossed that boundary, and a lot of innocent people were killed. It is true that OAS tried to assassinate the French president Charles de Gaulle more than once, as he wanted to end the conflict between France and Algeria and he wanted to have peaceful negotiations. Apart from the assassination attempt, the OAS also orchestrated acts of terrorism, and they didn’t care about the lives of civilians. In just a couple of years after being created, a majority of high-ranking officials in the OAS were arrested, and only they were to blame for it. 

Was Henri Working For The OAS? 

At the end of Monsieur Spade, we saw that Teresa confronted Henri, as she had doubts about him working for the OAS. The organization had created a very bad reputation for itself, and any sane-minded person wouldn’t want to have any kind of association with it. But then there were radicals who just couldn’t accept the fact that Algeria was an independent state, and the president had agreed to peaceful negotiations. Teresa had taken Henri’s diary, which revealed his true intentions. She tried to tell him that what he was doing was not right, but the man was just not ready to entertain the viewpoint of others. We also got to know that it was Henri who had shot Teresa and Spade earlier, and he said that he did so on purpose because he wanted to scare them so that they stayed out of the mess and no harm came to them. Henri was a part of the army intelligence agency, which had asked him to find out about Phillipe and somehow manage to get Zayd into their custody. We got to know that Phillipe was given the task of finding OAS members and eliminating them, and during one such meeting, he met Gazala, and that’s how he came into contact with the kid. On any given day, Phillipe would have killed any FLN members he would have met, but he knew that he couldn’t do so with Gazala. He knew that she was the only person who could identify Zayd, and through her, he, too, could earn a huge amount of money. Phillipe’s choices landed him in all sorts of trouble, and in the end, even his mother said all her life, she had to face trouble because of him.

Apart from Teresa, I don’t think anybody got to know that Henri aligned with the ideologies of OAS, and even if they did, they didn’t have any evidence to support it. Henri would be convicted if Teresa gave his diary to the law enforcement authorities, but knowing her, I don’t think she would be able to do that. She did love Henri, but she couldn’t live with a man who had that kind of extreme ideology. Henri was a good man, but there were certain things he was very rigid about, though probably with time, he would undo that, taking the lives of innocent people in the name of nationalism. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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