French Historian Antonin Dehays Caught Stealing From US National Archives

Antonin Dehays has been visiting the US National Archives facility in Maryland for more than two years. The 32-year-old Frenchman has a keen interest in the US involvement to liberate his country from the Nazi’s in World War Two and has been investigating files of US pilots who crashed in Europe as a focal point of his research.

Dehays, who earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate from universities in France, had been working as a researcher for National History Day, a nonprofit education organization based in Maryland. Dehays  worked with schoolchildren, teaching them about American heroism and even appeared on a PBS NewsHour segment about the Battle of Normandy. Dehays kept a Facebook page with photos of vintage war planes and proclaimed a reverence for the American soldiers who fought in World War Two.

antonin dehays french historian thief

Antonin Dehays on PBS

Dehays’ interest in history turned out to be much more than lauding American soldiers on his Facebook page or teaching children about the importance of remembering heroes who fought for liberty. Investigation into the historian’s activities came about from an article he had written featured in French history magazine. The article featured a shot down airman named Henry W. Davis, a photograph of Dehays and an excerpt from his book, “Sainte-Mere-Eglise: An American Sanctuary in Normandy 1944-1948.”

The article also included a photograph of Davis’ dog tag, which was identical to the one kept by the National Archives. Suspicion was aroused when the article stated that the tag was part of a “collection privée” — a private collection, rather than the government archives. The National Archives, had been unaware the dog tag was even missing and continued to let Dehays, a member of a respected history research NPO, continue to peruse the archives.

On May 12, 2017, Dehays asked to see Archive box 352, and looked through the contents for twenty four minutes before leaving. Two weeks later, a staff member discovered that about 30 dog tags that had been in box 352 were missing. A subsequent raid on Dehay’s home uncovered half a dozen stolen dog tags and the historian admitted to have been stealing tags for over two years and selling them on eBay for personal profit. If convicted, Dehays could spend up to ten years in prison.

antonin dehays french historian thief

Dehays in a 2014 Museum exhibition about the French resistance.

antonin dehays french historian thief

For Further Reading Check Out:

The Normandy Battlefields: D-Day and the Bridgehead

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2 thoughts on “French Historian Antonin Dehays Caught Stealing From US National Archives

  • Bill Getz says:

    It would have been better to indicate the date of the posting. Was this a recent event?

  • John Ritenour says:

    This was a sorry act. You were admitted to those archives and allowed to study them in order to preserve and document history – not steal it. You owe the Veterans and their families an apology for your execrable behavior.

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