René Carmille was a punched-card computer expert and French double agent who is believed to have saved thousands of lives by sabotaging Nazi efforts to identify Jewish citizens. He eventually was found out, withstood torture, and sent to a concentration camp where he died in January of 1945.Previous Fact Next Fact
René Carmille was a punched card computer expert and comptroller general of the French Army in the early 20th century. In World War II he was a double agent for the French Resistance and part of the Marco Polo Network. He ran the Demographics Department of Vichy which soon, through a merger with the SGF, became the new National Statistics Service, which he continued to head up. In this capacity, he sabotaged the Nazi census of France, saving untold numbers of Jewish people from death camps.
The IEEE newspaper, The Institute, describes Carmille as being an early ethical hacker: "Over the course of two years, Carmille and his group purposely delayed the process by mishandling the punch cards. He also hacked his own machines, reprogramming them so that they'd never punch information from Column 11 onto any census card." He also used his department to help mobilize French resistance in Algeria. He was interrogated for two days by Klaus Barbie but did not break under torture. He was caught by the Nazis and sent to Dachau where he died on 25 January 1945. A short documentary was released about Carmille in 2010 called Interregnum which stars Nicole Stamp.