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French Communists and the Uses of the Past: History and Memory in L'Humanite, 1944-47


James Beattie

BA (Hons, History), UNB, 2005

A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements For the Degree of

Master of Arts

in the Graduate Academic Unit of History

Supervisor(s): Sean Kennedy, PhD, History.

Examining Board: Gary Waite, PhD, History, Chair Steven Turner, PhD, History

External Examiner: Mark Jarman, PhD, English, UNB

This Thesis is accepted by the Dean of Graduate Studies


May, 2007

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•+• Canada ABSTRACT

During the period between the Liberation of in 1944 and the spring of

1947, the Parti Communiste Francais (PCF) was at the height of its popularity, and enjoyed new access to political power. Through a detailed examination of its newspaper

L 'Humanite, this thesis shows that appeals to the past, especially its resistance record but also earlier French traditions, were crucial to the PCF's attempts to promote its political agenda and gain legitimacy. Numerous commemorations emphasized the sacrifices of

Communist supporters during the war, and identified the PCF with events from France's past, such as the Commune and the French Revolution. Appeals to the past were very important in the party's efforts to win over French women and youth, and to criticize its foes.

Historians have debated to what extent the PCF was a genuinely 'French' party, as opposed to supporting the goals of the . The PCF's commemorative activities show that while it identified with the USSR, it also sought to emphasize its devotion to France. This identification with French traditions was not enough to keep the PCF in government following the onset of the , but it likely helped to win the party considerable support.


I dedicate this thesis to my father, Eric Beattie. ACKNOWLEDGMENT

First, I would like to acknowledge Amanda Dunham, the person who had to submit herself to my constant ramblings in the apartment as I researched, wrote and re­ wrote this thesis during these past two years. From beginning to end, she always pushed me and encouraged me the most, often volunteering to read my material and correct my mistakes. Secondly, I want to thank Dr. Sean Kennedy, my advisor for this thesis.

Without his help and guidance, the completion of this thesis would have been impossible. Ever since that first history course I enrolled in, while studying at UNB in my undergrad, Sean was the professor who inspired me to excel the most, encouraging me to join the honours program and masters program thereafter. 1 would also like to thank the other professors in the UNB history department however, because during my undergrad and MA degrees, it is their guidance as a group that has led me to where 1 am today.

I would like to thank Dr. Turner, who taught me the value of questioning everything, Dr. Gail Campbell, who challenged my arguments in every way, Dr. Linda

Kealey who showed me the humorous side of historical medicine, Dr. McTavish, who gave me a new appreciation for popular culture and professionalism, Dr. Brown, who taught me to consider subjects with an open mind, Dr. Milner, who taught me the importance of military punctuality, Dr. Parenteau, who taught me a lot about living in the Maritimes, Dr. Waite, who taught me the basics of historical sermons, Dr. Charters, who challenged me to dig deeper when conducting research, and finally Dr. Kent who is really the most inviting and enjoyable professor 1 have ever been taught by at UNB.

In the end it is usually the people who have the most important jobs in the department that we sometimes forget to thank. I would like to thank Elizabeth Adshade

iv and Carole Hines who always take their jobs far beyond the original requirements and help students and faculty with administrative tasks, organizing events and promoting events. I cannot remember how many times I ran to their office at the stroke of 4:00pm to hand in a paper, which they always helpfully stamped and accepted. I would also like to give a special thanks to all the staff at the Harriet Irving Library, who also dedicated their time and efforts to helping students, graduate or undergraduate with their research needs. When all is said and done, in the end I would like to thank my parents who supported me all the way, in times of health and sickness to achieve this goal.







2.0 CHAPTER 1 21 2.1 Realities and Myths of Resistance 21

3.0 CHAPTER 2 44 3.1 L'Humanite and Propaganda in France, 1944-6 44

4.0 CHAPTER 3 62

4.1 Last Chance at Leadership, 1946-7 62




vi 1

On 23 February 1945, the Parti Communiste Francais (PCF) held a large celebration to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the creation of the Red Army.

Maurice Thorez, the secretary general of the PCF, presided over a crowd of 6,000 spectators at the Salle de Mutualite singing L 'Internationale. The importance of this occasion is twofold; first, the PCF was trying to show how its political culture and

Soviet traditions were clearly linked. Secondly, by overtly celebrating the Red Army the

PCF associated closely the memory of the with all the fallen soldiers from the Red Army fighting on the Eastern Front. A quote from the ceremony illustrates this:

Vive PArmee Rouge! Vive le marechal Staline! Vive P ami tie franco-sovietique! Vivent Punion et la victoire des nations libres!3

Large banners in the arena glorified the Red Army and Stalin, and called upon

Frenchmen themselves to join him by chanting slogans such as "Let us form a powerful

French Republican army of our own, indispensable to France's independence." The PCF repeatedly melded Soviet memory with French memory through large gatherings and commemorations such as these.

At the same time, however, the PCF identified strongly with French historical traditions. On 18 March 1945, at the Salle Japy, the PCF celebrated the 74th anniversary

1L Humanite, 24 February 1945, 1. 2 Palme Dutt, The Internationale. London: Lawrence &Wishart Ltd, 1964. 72: L 'internationale was originally written in 1870 by Eugene Pottier, a member of the French Commune. From 1918 until 1944 L 'Internationale was the national anthem of the Soviet Union, whereupon in 1944 it chose the Hymn of the Soviet Union as its national anthem. 3 L 'Humanite, 23 February 1945, 1. 2 of the Paris Commune, to the applause of thousands of Parisians again greeting Maurice

Thorez. This was followed by the traditional singing of the Marseillaise and

I'internationale. At the rear of the tribunal was a large panel with the inscription

"Liberty guiding the people" and beside it stood the old flag of the "Anciens

Combattants et Amis de la Commune" draped in national colors, inspiring patriotism and remembrance in the French spectators. Both Thorez and the PCF deputy Jacques

Duclos proceeded to give speeches on the details of the Commune and how its historical significance affected the PCF.5 Specifically from Thorez's speech, Duclos even quoted

Adolphe Thiers6 in front of the inquiry on 24 August 1871 stating that "the entry of the

Prussians into Paris was the principal cause of the insurrection." Then Thorez exclaimed:

Yes, yesterday like today, Paris was the heart and brain of France. Paris heroically rose up against those that handed it to the Prussians against the wishes of the people and democracy. The victory of Paris and France over the Prussians was the victory of the Republic and that of the laboring masses over the privileged and the parasites that cooperated with the enemy.8

Thorez was directly likening the PCF's position to that of the Paris Commune of 1871. It is a clear example of the PCF using the commemorations of French historical events, in this case the Commune, with their recent struggle as a resistance group to

4 Robert Gildea, The Past in French History. London: Yale University Press, 1994, 141: On 28 October 1870, after Bazaine surrendered to the Prussians with 179,000 men, the Paris National Guard of 250,000 attempted to seize power from the government of National Defence. Although the Government of National Defence signed an Armistice, the National Guard refused to yield, denouncing an agreement with Bismarck. They elected a Commune on 18 March 1871 because they thought that it would be glorious such as that of 1793, however in reality 25,000 Parisians were killed, deported or exiled. 5 L'Humanite, 19 March 1945, 1 6 Dutt, 75: Adolphe Thiers was the head of state (provisional president of France) responsible for handing over Paris to the Prussians in March 1871. However, when he sought to disarm the National Guard the workers and the Guard rose up against the government, and he was forced to relocate the government in Versailles where he planned a counter-revolution, with the aid of the Germans, against the Paris Commune. 1 L'Humanite, 19 March 1945, 1. 8L'Humanite, 19 March 1945, 1. 3 from the Nazis. The PCF were also using the flag of the "friends of the Commune" draped in national colors as a symbol of the strong link which the PCF was portraying between themselves and past French revolutionaries.

As these examples illustrate, appeals to memories, both recent and in the more distant past, were crucial to the PCF's identity and messages during the early post-war years. This aspect of French Communist political culture has been acknowledged by some historians, but rarely has it been explored in detail.9 This thesis attempts to do so for a critical period in Communist history - between 1944 and 1947, when the PCF participated in the coalition governments that ruled newly liberated France. It systematically reviews the party's newspaper L 'Humanite for this period to show how the PCF invoked the recent memory of its resistance activities, but also other key episodes in French history, to reinforce its political message. While exploring this theme, the thesis also sheds light on the extent to which the PCF was directly influenced by Moscow's policies or whether it was a genuinely French political party. This introduction will provide basic context on the PCF, analyze the growing scholarly interest in history and memory and how it has been applied to the French Communists, and then suggest how a more detailed examination of appeals to memory and traditions in L 'Humanite can shed light on Communist political culture.

There is no doubt that the origins and tactics of the PCF were deeply tied to the

Russian Revolution, the evolution of the Soviet Union, and the creation of the

Communist International (Comintern). The original roots of the PCF, however, were in

Pierre Nora, "Gaullists and Communists," ed. Lawrence D. Kritzman, Realms of Memory, Volume 1, 1992,207. the SFIO10, created in 1905 and led initially by Jean Jaures. Jaures had advocated legal parliamentary reform that was to culminate in the establishment of socialism in France.11

However, as the 1910s progressed, he started to use more revolutionary rhetoric while adopting evolutionary practices to gain more support. By the use of more revolutionary rhetoric, Jaures meant having more proactive strikes and stressing social solidarity among French workers. However, soon Jaures realized that war was a greater likelihood than peace; therefore he began threatening the government with social upheaval if a war broke out. Specifically, he warned the French government in 1912 that Socialists would take action against a France that was "reactionary, militaristic, convinced that war was

1 "7 inevitable," and he would trust the international community to react. Jaures, however, would never see his dreams realized: he was assassinated on 31 July 1914.13 The advent of 1914 and the First World War increased worker militancy, especially in Russia, where by 1917 a Communist regime was being established. During the French general elections of 1919, the SFIO lost 32 seats even though it gained 400,000 votes, which caused militant workers to lose faith in the party.14 The success of the Russian revolution in 1917, and the fact that Bolshevism was beginning to have a stronger influence on

European socialist parties, created the perfect conditions for the establishment of the

Comintern of 1920 and the creation of the PCF.

The 18 congress of the SFIO, held at Tours in 1920, also became the founding congress of the PCF. The main proponent for joining the Comintern was Marcel Cachin,

10 SFIO: Section Francaise de 1'Internationale Ouvriere 11 Ronald Tiersky, French , 1920-1972. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974. 13. 12 Harvey Goldberg, The Life of Jean Jaures. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1962,435. 13 Goldberg, 472. 14 M. Adereth, The : A critical history (1920-1984). Dover: Manchester University Press, 1984, 22. 5 the director of L 'Humanite, while the more moderate Leon Blum spoke against joining it. Five days later, the Congress voted on the creation of the PCF, with 110,100 members, 13 deputies in parliament and its own newspaper, L 'Humanite. 5 From 1921-

1933 the PCF used "Leninist-style" strategies and tactics, adopting an anti-imperialist stance to try and gain more supporters, with little success.16 In 1930, with the onset of the , the PCF deposed its old leaders and selected a new leadership, with as its new secretary general. His response to the Great Depression, in cooperation with the SFIO and eventually the French Radical Party, was to form a united front against right-wing parties. Historians have argued that the rise of Hitler and

Nazism provoked Thorez to initiate negotiations for the creation of the in

1934.17 The left -wing coalition won the 1936 legislative elections, and the Socialist

Leon Blum became the new premier. Thorez and the PCF, who had substantially increased their popular support in the elections, pledged their support to the new government but refused to participate in it and provide cabinet ministers. In the 1938 election the voters shifted once again to the right and the PCF moved back into opposition.

With the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, the PCF changed its position on foreign affairs. For much of the 1930s it had called for France to adopt tougher policies in confronting Nazi Germany, but once Stalin made his peace with Hitler it promoted

"fraternal support" for the pact.19 By doing so, it lost a lot of the left-wing support it had gained during the Popular Front, and was also repressed heavily by the government of

15 Adereth, 27. 16 Adereth, 50. 17 Adereth, 65. 18 Adereth, 75. 19 Tiersky, 99. 6

Edouard Daladier. Certainly the pact divided the already shaky unity of the French intellectual left.20 Pro-Communist intellectuals have insisted that the pact merely served as a tool for the government to legally ban L 'Humanite and arrest the party's deputies, even though the PCF was still calling for national defense against Germany.21 On the other hand, there can be little doubt that other prominent leftists were now deeply disillusioned with the French Communists.22 In any case, the PCF was driven underground, first by the Daladier government, then by the Vichy regime after France's surrender in 1940. By June 1941 4,000 to 5,000 Communists had been arrested.23

Maurice Thorez deserted the French army and fled to Moscow in 1939; he was joined there by his friend . Here they would remain until 1944.24

When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the PCF, after a long period of ambivalence, gladly joined the resistance, initially through propaganda. In the summer of 1942 the PCF called on all its new patriots to join the FTP (Francs-Tireurs et

Partisans) which quickly developed into a guerrilla force comprised mostly of communists, the FTP's primary role was sabotage.25 In 1943 Duclos coined the new

PCF policy slogan "S'unir-s'armer-se battre," and wrote in L 'Humanite that France had to liberate itself if it ever wanted to end the war. Against de Gaulle's wishes, the PCF created the patriotes, a group of armed civilians with the task of supporting FTP units and harassing the Germans. Communist resistance activities were therefore significant and dangerous, but the party subsequently exaggerated its accomplishments,

20 David Caute, Communism and the French intellectuals, 1914-1960. London: Deutsch, 1964, 137 21Caute, 141. 22 Caute, 143. 23 Julian Jackson, France The Dark Years: 1940-1944. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, 151. 24 Wall, 20. 25Adereth, 117. 26Adereth, 117. 7 for example proclaiming itself "the party of the 75,000 shot," though the official number of PCF members killed during the war was 29,620.27

The began on 6 June 1944, and shortly afterwards de Gaulle and the resistance groups would form a new government to continue the war effort. At its first formal central committee meeting on 21 January 1945, the PCF decided that it was going to work within this newly created political framework.28 With a membership of over 300,000 in 1945 and 800,000 in 1946, the PCF sought to capitalize on its popularity. The constituent assembly, aimed at drafting a constitution for the newly restored French democracy, was elected on 21 October 1945 and the PCF found itself ahead of the now-revived SFIO and newly formed MRP (Mouvement Republicain

Populaire), a pro-reformist, Catholic-influenced party, with 26.1% of the popular vote.

One of the PCF's biggest advantages was the virtual monopoly it had on French women's votes and candidates. Nearly 20% of the PCF's candidates were women. The three parties decided to cooperate in a "tripartite coalition" which consisted of the PCF, the SFIO and also the MRP, which had been included specifically by the Socialists to keep the PCF in a minority position.29

While all three parties stressed their commitment to reform and were able to cooperate on some issues, tensions soon emerged within the coalition. De Gaulle, frustrated with what he saw as partisan bickering, resigned as head of government in

January 1946. In the meantime, the SFIO, PCF, and MRP could not unite on constitutional reform. The Socialists and Communists wanted a new, fourth French

7 Edwar Mortimer, The Rise of the French Communist Party 1920-1947. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1984, 307. 28 Charles Sowerwine. France Since 1870: Culture, Politics and Society. New York: Palgrave Publishing, 2001.236. 29 Sowerwine, 237. 8

Republic featuring a more powerful single Chamber of Deputies. The MRP opposed this, fearing it would make the left too powerful, and called for a two-chamber legislature. A nationwide constitutional referendum, called in May 1946, resulted in a failure of the Socialist-Communist proposal. This in turn necessitated the election of a new Constituent Assembly - in which the SFIO lost some votes to the PCF and MRP - and a second referendum, which was held in October 1946. This time voters approved a constitution which gave France a Chamber of Deputies and an advisory Conseil de la

Republique, by a margin of 53%. But there were still problems within the governing coalition. The PCF decided that it should vote for the MRP-SFIO drafted constitution; however, it had to tread softly with the SFIO because the MRP and SFIO were beginning to form a permanent alliance. It was already clear from the arguing before the vote between the parties, and the slim margin by which the constitution was passed, that there would be continuing tensions. The fact that de Gaulle denounced the new constitution further complicated the situation.

Following the formal adoption of the new constitution, elections to the first legislative assembly were held on 10 November 1946 and in them the PCF continued to gain momentum with 28.8% of the vote, easily defeating the SFIO with 18.8%. But it did not have enough support to dominate the coalition governments of the time, which were increasingly beset with internal conflict. The tripartite alliance continued until May

1947 when the Communist ministers were forced to leave government. At the time the

Socialist was prime minister, and he had started supporting the MRP more than the PCF, which he saw as troublesome.31 The Communist ministers decided

30 Tiersky, 147. 31 Robert Gildea, France Since 1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.Gildea, 43. 9 to hold a non-confidence vote against Ramadier because in April 1947 there was a strike at the Renault car factory, which was the home base of the Communist-affiliated trade union movement, the Confederation Generate du Travail (CGT). Given France's support for Marshall Plan aid from the and its deteriorating relations with

Moscow, Ramadier dismissed the Communist ministers on 5 May. From then on, the

PCF would remain in opposition, mounting strikes and opposing colonial wars. The

PCF would remain in this state of "permanent opposition" for decades, well after the death of Maurice Thorez in 1964; it did not return to government until the early years of

Francois Mitterrand's presidency, from 1981 to 1984.33

There is a good deal written on the PCF between the Liberation and its expulsion from government in 1947, with much of the relevant historical scholarship focused upon the tactics and strategy of the PCF during these crucial, early postwar years. A long­ standing debate exists as to whether the PCF was acting of its own accord during this period or whether the party followed Moscow's directives. For example, after the

Communists joined the governing coalition, French conservatives criticized them for trying to turn France into an East-European style Communist dictatorship.34 Others, however, still thought that the Communists were genuinely committed to encouraging reconstruction because of their new social policies.

Since the 1960s historians' analyses of this controversy have tended to follow a steady progression of moving away from viewing the PCF as the servants of Moscow, and considering it more as a genuinely French political party with its own motives.

Annie Kriegel, an influential pioneering scholar of French Communism, strongly

32 Gildea, 43. 33Tiersky, 113. 34 Irwin Wall, French Communism in the Era of Stalin. London: Greenwood Press, 1983, 29. 10 promoted the idea that the PCF was a thoroughly 'Stalinist' party, or controlled by

Moscow. A former party member, she became one of the most prominent historians of the PCF with the publication of works such as The French Communists and Aux

Origines du Communisme Francais.35 During the early part of her life she was an avid supporter and member of the PCF; however, she gradually rejected her old party and became a fierce critic of it, a path followed by other French historians such as Francois

Furet. She believed that the PCF completely followed Moscow's policy of seeking a proletarian revolution, but failed to adapt to a changing political environment in France.

In her book The French Communists, she even goes so far as to state that the PCF tried to develop a "counter-society," though unsuccessfully. However, she does not explore the role memory and tradition might have played in creating such a counter-society.

Similarly, Albert Rieber insists that the PCF really did not have any choice but to follow Moscow's rhetoric after the war because Stalin expected to be repaid for his victories in the East by the French Communists' allegiance. Stalin argued that the Red

Army's victories in the East compelled Hitler to send twenty more division from France

TO and Belgium to the Eastern Front. However, realizing that the Western Allies were in control of France, Stalin did not believe it would make sense for the PCF to embark upon a revolution; instead, he believed the party should participate in coalition governments and gain influence in the process. However, Rieber also contends that

Stalin eventually regretted his course of action because he came to realize that de Gaulle

Annie Kriegel, The French Communists: Profile of a People. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. Xi. 36 Nora, 216. 37 Kriegel, xi. 38 Alfred Rieber, Stalin and the French Communist Party, 1941-1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, 115. 11 did not want to share power with the PCF, thus restricting Moscow's influence in

France. Nevertheless, Rieber clearly believes that the political stance of the PCF was

in ultimately determined by Moscow.

Tony Judt also criticizes the PCF for being "conditioned" by "crude" .40

While disagreeing with Annie Kriegel on some points, such as her emphasis upon peasant as opposed to working-class support, Judt states that if the Kriegelian approach to studying the PCF is plausible, the history of the PCF can be seen as a replica or mirror image of Marxist history, instead of nationally distinct events, meaning that the PCF's political popularity followed the same patterns as that of the Communist party in

Moscow.41 What both of these historians fail to consider, however, is how the PCF's systematic use of gatherings and commemorations through L 'Humanite was a major contributing factor in reinforcing its political strategy and influencing its popular support during the early post-war years. Furthermore, an exploration of this commemorative culture might reveal that the party had strong French roots, as well as Soviet influences.

The historian Irwin Wall also makes the case for strong influences in the PCF from Moscow, though he sees the relationship between the French Communists and their

Soviet mentors as complicated in some respects. He argues in his book French

Communism and the Era of Stalin that all the French Communists who had resisted the

Germans before 1941 fell under suspicion because the PCF was supposed to have followed the Nazi-Soviet pact.42 However, the PCF still decided to claim responsibility for the dissident Communists acts of resistance and even glorified them later on, while it

39 Rieber, 115. 40 Tony Judt, "Un Historiographie Pas Comme Les Autres," European Studies Review 12:4 (1982), 461. 41 Judt, 471. 42 Wall, 31. 12 was a member of postwar coalition governments. Thus, even though the party was internally divided, it still promoted the very public image of endorsing all acts of resistance, regardless of the circumstances, as its own. Another interesting fact is that de

Gaulle granted amnesty to Thorez on his return to France, even though Stalin asked de

Gaulle whether he intended to have him executed.43 Although Thorez was supposedly taking direct orders from Moscow, the fact that Stalin expected the shooting of Thorez suggests, for Wall, how disconnected the Moscow leadership must have been from the

PCF. Furthermore, de Gaulle often purposely encouraged Thorez's opportunism, which the left-wing parties disliked and which helped de Gaulle gain more support.

A recent article by Philippe Buton further complicates the picture and suggests how the focus and emphasis of the historiography is shifting. In "Le Parti Communiste

Francais et le Stalinisme au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre mondiale" he makes the case for regarding the PCF as a highly unique French political party. He demonstrates that the whole concept of "Stalinism" in the PCF was a concept forged by anti- communist and anti-Soviet propaganda.44 Until recently, according to Buton, this was the accepted and predominant way that historians examined the history of the PCF, not as a truly unique and French political party born out of the SFIO but simply a lapdog of

Moscow. However, his account stresses the degree to which the French Communists were able to build mass support and establish a truly popular base. The PCF tried to expand its base beyond proletarians to include peasants, women and even intellectuals.

In fact the PCF boasted the most female members of any political party in France, which ran counter to the reality of Soviet style Communism, characterized by a more male-

43 Wall, 29. Philippe Buton, "Le Parti Communiste Francais et le Stalinisme au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale," Journal of Modern European History 2:1 (2004), 60. 13 oriented party.45 According to Buton, the PCF did everything in its power to try and achieve unity. He stresses that in May 1947 it was not the PCF that abandoned the government, but the government which expelled it from office. De Gaulle disbanded the milices patriotes and disarmed the resistance forces, yet the PCF was still willing to work with him. For Buton, this demonstrated that the PCF had truly become a unique and adaptive political party, and that de Gaulle was the one who refused to change.45

Buton also discusses the broader 'political culture' of the PCF. In this regard he admits important connections between the fundamental values and symbolic practices of the Soviet and French Communist parties, but he also sees distinctions between them.

Soviet Communism, in his view, took on more of a religious and fanatical approach, where adherents thought constantly about Stalin and sang hymns or said prayers in his honor. Within the PCF these kind of pleasantries usually only happened in official correspondence or in the presence of Soviet officials. In one letter to Stalin, Thorez showered Stalin with praise as being the "leader of workers around the world" and speaking of a "filial love" between them.47 Of course it was assumed by all the party members that it was a great honor in the PCF to even speak to Stalin, but French party members were primarily interested in more revolutionary social values associated with the Comintern, which is why the PCF was formed from the SFIO in the first place.

Finally, Buton emphasizes that the PCF sought power through parliamentary and democratic means. Its leaders agreed to disband the "Franc-Tireurs Partisans" and were still repressed.

Buton, 63. Buton, 63. Buton, 70. 14

The historian Marc Lazar has also provided a general overview of the political culture of French Communism, and argues it was a blend of the French and Soviet revolutionary traditions.48 The Communists developed their own calendar based on commemorative ceremonies, such as the October revolution of 1917 or Jaures's birthday anniversary. According to Lazar, the PCF had a very real dependence on the USSR for its political culture; however, its members were also skilled at inventing their own traditions.49 The PCF used images such as Joan of Arc, the thinkers of the

Enlightenment and the labour movement of the 19th century. He emphasizes that the revolutionary tradition dating back to 1789 facilitated the anchoring of communism in

France.50 In addition, scholars such as Ronald Tiersky note that the PCF was happy to use historical parallels to condemn its opponents, such as when it compared de Gaulle to

Petain and Goebbels in 1947.51

Clearly, the PCF did not shy away from using the recent past to glorify its own exploits, or to damn its opponents by associating them with pro-Nazi collaboration.

What is interesting is that historians of French Communism, while generally acknowledging the importance of history and traditions to the party, have not given more detailed attention to this theme. By concentrating on this issue over a short but critical time period, this thesis argues that an exploration of the various ways in which the PCF appealed to historical memory and traditions sheds light on its tactics and its political culture, and may help to explain why the party gained the appeal it did during these years.

48 Marc Lazar, "Forte et Fragile, immuable et changeante... La culture politique communiste,"inLes Cultures Politiques en France, ed. Serge Berstein, Les Cultures Politiques en France. Paris: Seuil, 1999, 224. 49 Lazar, 227. 50 Lazar, 233. 51 Tiersky, 156. 15

The role of memory in shaping postwar European politics and society has attracted increasing attention from scholars. In his classic study of the 'Vichy syndrome,' Henry Rousso emphasizes that at the end of the Second World War (1944-

46), the French were joyously celebrating the liberation of their country, unable to acknowledge all of the atrocities which had taken place during the war. Eventually, under de Gaulle's leadership, the notion that France was largely a nation of resisters, with only a minority of collaborators, was strongly promoted. Rousso notes that after

1945 the PCF also tried to re-write history to suit its needs. Communist resistance fighters were depicted as the heirs of the radical revolutionaries of 1793 and the Paris

Commune, while Petain was likened to Marshal Bazaine, the 'traitor' who surrendered to the Prussians in 1870.53 The resistance identified itself with the indomitable spirit of

Joan of Arc and the poilus (soldiers of the First World War), according to Rousso.

Therefore, perhaps on some level there was a degree of self imposed amnesia, which the

PCF took advantage of and which everyone needed in the end to save face and heal.54

More generally, Robert Gildea explains in his book The Past in French History,

French politics have traditionally involved a lot of emphasis on the commemoration of key events, beginning with the French Revolution of 178955 and then continuing through the various republics.56 In addition to emphasizing its participation in the resistance, the

PCF celebrated events like 1789, the radical Jacobin government of 1793-4,57 and the

52 Rousso, Henri, The Vichy Syndrome. London: Harvard University Press, 1991, 25. 53 Rousso, 26. 54 Rousso, 27. 55 Gildea, 17: On 14 July 1789 the Bastille was stormed and the governor's head cut off. The revolutionaries successfully had the Declaration of the Rights of man enacted while abolishing feudalism. 56 Gildea, 48. 57 Gildea, 27: The Jacobin regime, forever associated with the Terror, was and is still controversial, but the PCF associated it with heroic opposition to counterrevolutionary threats such as the Vendee uprising of 1793. The inhabitants of the Vendee, of course, have their own distinct memory of the repression. 16

Commune of 1871 to identify the party with crucial events in French history. Members would celebrate these events with parades, reunions or symbols. Party members would sometimes wear the ceremonial "red bonnet" or "Phrygian bonnet" that was so prominent when the Jacobins were in power. Thorez even referred to Robespierre as being one of his personal heroes. In terms of more recent historical events, the Popular

Front of 1934 became an important symbol of fraternity between the SFIO and the PCF against fascism, and was used to encourage cooperation between the two parties after the


Liberation. At the same time, these distinctly French traditions were regularly compared to Soviet ones; when evoking the memory of the Jacobins in 1793 the PCF could also link it to the revolutionary upheavals of 1917 Russia.59

Pierre Nora has recently encouraged more detailed research into the French

Communists' use of memory after 1945. In his chapter "Gaullists and Communists," from his influential edited collection Realms of Memory, he compares the legacies of

General and that of the Communist party. His first conclusion was that Communism is now seen as the greater of two evils in France compared to de

Gaulle.60 Gaullism is now vividly remembered while the Communist legacy has become forgotten. Nora suggests that there is a need for historians of the PCF to expand on the issues of memory in a systematic way and further elucidate the role that it played during the early postwar years. He adds that Jacobin traditions played a strong role in shaping

58 Maurice Larkin, France Since the Popular Front, 2nd ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997,48: On 6 February 1934 there were huge riots against the police by De La Rocque and his Croix-de-Feu and other right-wing groups. As early on as 12 February 1934 the PCF joined the Socialists in a protest of their own against the fascist oppressors. This enabled Leon Blum and his SFIO to unite all of the parties of the Left for the elections of 1936, which they won in a victory as the Popular Front. 59 Gildea, 48 : The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 consists of a time when the Bolsheviks, a leading political party, took over the government and had the Russian monarchy assassinated, creating the Third International or Comintern and first Communist party. 60 Nora, 206. 17 the way the PCF used memory, because it was trying to embody the tradition of the

French Revolution, which in turn made the PCF identifiable as the party of the resistance. However, Nora stated that the PCF had abused history, and with all the propaganda, distortions and mistruths, people simply began mistrusting anything it claimed.61 Nora emphasizes the contrasts in how the Gaullists and the PCF appealed to history; the Gaullists sought to downplay the significance of Vichy, while the PCF emphasized their level of commitment to resistance during the war years. In other words, for de Gaulle the only way France could leave Vichy in its past was to resort to a

"strange self-induced amnesia." But while the PCF's use of memory was a major factor in boosting its popular support, that memory soon faded and people chose to forget about the resistance, especially after the party supported the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956.

This thesis will show how the PCF invoked the legacy of key events in modern

French history in a systematic way to legitimize its outlook and support its political goals. The PCF began commemorating victims of the Second World War in autumn of

1944, drawing massive crowds. It even took charge of Armistice Day celebrations.63 It focused heavily on the massacres and killings by the SS because it wanted to make PCF martyrs out of all the French victims of Nazi repression. The PCF used commemorative ceremonies or posthumous presentations of medals of the resistance to inspire the

French people to identify the Communists as the leading resistance group of France.

However, the PCF also went further back into history, celebrating various occasions

61 Nora, 215. Tony Judt, Past Imperfect: The French Intellectuals, 1944-1956. Los Angeles: University of California press, 1992,47. 63 Rousso, 24 18

from France's rich historical past and identifying its values with those events. In

analyzing these celebrations I hope to capture the extent to which they were, as Charles

Maier describes them, events of "feeling" which also served broader political purposes.64

The main source I will be using to assess how the PCF invoked French traditions

for its own purposes will be the party's newspaper, L 'Humanite. As a source it clearly has limitations, since it obviously reported events as the Communists wanted them to be perceived, which often led to distortions. For instance, while emphasizing the central role of the PCF in the resistance, its contributors ignored or downplayed the

contributions of non-Communist resisters such as and of course Charles de

Gaulle.65 Another example typical of how the PCF would transform information for the purposes of commemoration involves the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, which was

essentially burnt to the ground by SS divisions in retaliation for resistance activities.66

Most of the victims were women and children; the men had been sent to work camps.

The PCF, upon the discovery of the massacre, declared the villagers resisters in the

name of the Communist party. The reality of the situation was that these villagers had been massacred by the SS with little or no resistance while their men were away.

However, since the focus of my thesis is upon how the PCF wished events to be seen,

rather than how things actually were, a careful analysis of L 'Humanite in conjunction

with the use of secondary sources sheds much light on the mentality and tactics of the

French Communists during this period.

Charles S. Maier, "A Surfeit of Memory? Reflections on History, Melancholy, and Denial," History and Memory 5:2 (1998), 149. 65Larkin, 110. Sarah Farmer. Martyred Village. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999,44. 19

Concentrating on the period between 1944 and 1947, the analysis of L 'Humanite presented in this thesis shows how the PCF tried to use commemorations of events from the French Revolution, the Commune, the Popular Front, and above all the Second

World War to enhance its own legitimacy and to ridicule and discredit its opponents.

This in turn sheds light on the nature of French Communism and the sources of its appeal. The great importance of French traditions and events in the commemorative culture of the PCF suggests that the party was not simply an offshoot of the Soviet

Communists. Throughout the thesis I will demonstrate that the PCF was shaping French myths to benefit its own political gains as a party, not just acting as another extension of

Moscow. It readily drew upon so many examples and images from French history that it becomes difficult to say that the PCF was simply a puppet of Moscow; its propagandists were more sensitive to their own particular national culture. However, it would be wrong to ignore completely the importance of the ties between the PCF and the Soviet Union.

The Russian Revolution of 1917, and other events in the history of the Soviet State, received considerable attention. Its various appeals to history indicate that the PCF was offering was a mixture of the French and Soviet revolutionary traditions.

These findings may also have implications for understanding why the PCF was able, at least for a time, to achieve the level of popular support that it did in France after the Liberation. Historians like Tony Judt argue that people flocked to the PCF primarily because of the devastation of the Second World War, which wrecked the French economy and made for terrible working conditions.67 While not ignoring the importance of social and economic factors, this thesis does suggest that French citizens were

67 Tony Judt, "The Past is Another Country: Myth and Memory in Postwar Europe," Daedalus 121:4 (1992), 90. 20 persuaded, through the PCF's ongoing efforts to identify itself with the legacy of the resistance, to change their perception of what the PCF stood for. This is a particular case where popular memory and cultural representations were strong enough to influence

French people, and whom they supported. By showing how important popular myth and memory was to the message of the PCF, and by suggesting how memory enhanced the party's appeal, this thesis hopes to shed light on a neglected but revealing aspect of the history of French Communism. 21

Chapter 1: Realities and Myths of Resistance

On 10 May 1940, Hitler and the Nazi's decision to unleashed their military power upon Western Europe. Three days later, General Heinz Guderian breached the

Meuse with his tanks through the Ardennes forest, effectively by-passing the heavily fortified Maginot Line.68 Soon the British divisions were forced to organize a speedy evacuation through Dunkirk, while France was left to fend for itself as the Germans quickly advanced towards it. The government of France left Paris for Bordeaux on 10

June 1940 and by 16 June Prime Minister handed over the power to

Commander-in-Chief Weygand and Marshal Petain, the old war hero from the First

World War. The Armistice was officially signed 22 June 1940 and three days later,

France was officially under German Occupation.

The sudden loss of their country and liberty to their previous foes from the First

World War proved to be a hard blow to the morale of French citizens. Petain was then made France's leader, and he signed the Armistice without hesitation, leaving France open for German Occupation. Over the next four years he would pursue a policy of cooperation with the Third Reich and his regime would attempt to implement the

National Revolution, thereby attempting to purge France's democratic past and instill

authoritarian, nationalist values.70 For the French Communists this would be a difficult time, but ultimately the circumstances of the war encouraged a tremendous boost in popular support for the party. This chapter considers the complex record of the

Communists during the war, noting that they only engaged in full-scale resistance after

H.R. Kedward, Occupied France: Collaboration and Resistance. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985, 1. 69 Kedward, 2. D. Veillon, Le Franc-Tireur: un journal Clandestin, un movement de resistance. Paris: Flammaron, 1977, 18. 22 the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941; before that their stance had been ambivalent. The chapter also explores the difficult relationship between the PCF and other resistance movements; other figures such as de Gaulle and Jean Moulin had played critical roles in encouraging opposition to Germany, and sometimes distrusted the

Communists and their tactics. Nevertheless, over the course of the war the Communists built a formidable mass organization, appealing to various groups such as women and intellectuals. Emphasizing the party's resistance record, commemorating its martyrs, and identifying with key moments in French history would all help the PCF build this support, and to further its political goals.

The French resistance began shortly after the German occupation of France in the summer and autumn months of 1940. Censorship of radio broadcasts and newspapers was rampant from the beginning.71 Most Frenchmen cooperated with the Germans as they rolled into the streets of Paris. Newspapers such as L 'Oeuvre, one of Leon Blum's earlier papers but now run by Marcel Deat, appeared with pro-German headlines. Paris-

Soir and Le Matin also collaborated extensively with Vichy to publish pro-Nazi propaganda.72 However, from the beginning there were also French citizens who decided to publish secret newspapers encouraging active resistance against Vichy. It was during

1940 that de Gaulle formed the Free French movement, and by the end of 1941, it had won growing appeal in London, sheltering prisoners, hiding agents, and passing detainees into safety.73 The Free French had started out mostly as a military organization with the goal of fighting for France in external theatres of war, such as for

71 , The French Resistance: 1940-44. Paris: Editions Hazan, 1997, 11. Frida Knight, The French Resistance. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1975, 53. 73 Knight, 77. 23 example.74 Gradually, resistance networks inside France also took shape. Three of the main networks, each with their own newspaper of the same name, were Le Franc-

Tireur, , and Liberation, also known as Liberation-Sud.15 Other earlier forms of resistance newspapers that were launched were Pantagruel and Libre France, both appearing in Paris in October 1940. The Socialist mayor of Roubaix, Jean Lebas, also started a newspaper called L 'Homme Libre, also in October 1940.76 In addition, the southern unoccupied zone of France had their early form of clandestine news taking shaping in the form of Liberte.

For the French Communists the situation was complicated. For those who remained loyal to Moscow, the fact that Stalin had signed a pact with Hitler made overt opposition to the German occupiers seem problematic and contradictory. During this time, much of the PCF leadership either went into hiding or fled the county. Maurice

Thorez, had his nationality revoked and deserted the army in 1939 to live in exile in

Moscow until 1944. His friend Jacques Duclos would also leave for Moscow that same year. Particularly controversial was the party's effort to secure permission to publish

L 'Humanite after the fall of France. L 'Humanite had been banned by Edouard Daladier's government in 1939 because of the German-Soviet nonaggression pact, and the

Communist leadership initially hoped to negotiate the legalization of the paper with the

Germans, but achieved little success. Historians before the 1960s, especially Communist historians, tended to dismiss the negotiations completely, calling all other views

"misleading." For example, Knight specifies that the PCF denied entirely that the

Kedward, 58. Aubrac, 65. Jackson, 403. 24

77 negotiations took place, justifying her point through L 'Humanite and its propaganda. 70

But more recent works have indeed confirmed that the party approached the Germans.

There were, however, some signs of Communist disaffection with the Germans in the early stages of the Occupation. On 10 July 1940, the party had distributed a leaflet entitled "L'appel," which carried its first message to French citizens under the occupation. The leaflet was a call to all the working classes to come together in national 7Q unity and fight against all foreign invaders. The PCF also illegally printed some

140,000 copies of L 'Humanite ten times a month, making sure that it was read religiously.80 During the month of July 1940, the PCF printed leaflets announcing the formation of Brigades de La Jeunesse (youth brigades) which held meetings under the guise of family picnics. The reality of the situation, however, was initially that the

German occupiers and French police were not yet sufficiently organized to deal with such a dispersed group.81 Most of the early forms of PCF resistance dealt more with graffiti than sabotage or active resistance, chalking messages such as "Vive L'URSS" and "Vive la France." Some of the youths were even arrested for distributing anti-Nazi

"tracts" all over towns, which they carried out on their own initiative. L 'Oeuvre for its part published articles detailing the arrests and seizure of illegal printing presses. As many as 871 arrests and the seizure of 35 illegal printing presses were reported in July


In September 1940 the PCF increasingly embarked upon anti-German propaganda. Instead of referring to the Germans as the more neutral "authorities," they 77 Knight, 62. 78 Nora, 218. 79 Knight, 62. 80 Knight, 64. 81 Knight, 64. 82 Knight, 64. 25 started designating them as "the occupying authorities."83 Most of the PCF's activities afterwards consisted of creating agitation and discontent over food shortages and higher wages for the factories. Though this was not active violent resistance, it commanded the attention of the French working class, who represented a third of the population. The

PCF was also spurred into activity by the shocking events of 11 November 1940.

Despite the government official communique stating that there would be no public demonstrations, many communist students organized a ceremony at the Champs-Elysees of 3,000-10,000 people. Pro-Nazi French youth were there as well, however, ready to point out the culprits (students) to the police. Suddenly German armored cars filed in and scattered the crowd, arresting 140 and killing 5 students.84 This only fueled the

PCF's initiatives to resist the Germans.

Despite such protests, however, historians now tend to agree that the PCF moved towards full-blown resistance only after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on 22

June 1941. Up to this point the Communist stance was often ambiguous, showing clear opposition to the Vichy government, but only gradually becoming more hostile towards the Germans. It has been proven that the PCF sent a letter to the propagandasstaffel 10

July 1940 for permission to resume publication. Finally, a letter from Francois Billoux was sent to Petain asking for the release of imprisoned Communists, clearly demonstrating that the PCF cooperated on some level with Vichy during the pact.85

Julian Jackson notes that the appel of July 1940 contained many contradictions, notably the condemnation of the Petain government without mentioning the Germans.86 Until the

83 Jackson, 421. 84 Knight, 70. 85 Nora, 216. 86 Jackson, 419. 26 launch of Operation Barbarossa, he concludes, "it cannot be said that the Communists collaborated, it cannot be said that they resisted either." As this thesis will show, the

PCF would subsequently downplay its ambiguous record between 1939 and 1941, and instead focus on what it did after the attack on the Soviet Union.

In July 1941, following the invasion of the USSR, the Comintern gave the PCF new instructions to try and engage in active armed struggle. Its orders were to engage in sabotage, disrupt factory production and organize armed groups. Between August 1941 and January 1942 the Germans recorded 68 actions, most of which were carried out by the PCF. The PCF also sought to carry out resistance activities outside the German- occupied zone, in the territory controlled by the Vichy regime. The main problem with these actions, however, were that they were all small-scale because the PCF did not possess a trained military force with adequate numbers to carry out these acts of sabotage. On top of this, the few hundred active resisters were armed with only a small number of rusty revolvers.88 Again in February 1942, the PCF was ordered by Moscow to try and intensify its armed struggle. Yet at the height of its active resistance the PCF was only able to have one full-time armed unit operating in the forest of Moret-sur-

Long, just outside of Paris. This group managed to assassinate the collaborator Jacques

Doriot's secretary in August 1942; however, shortly afterwards the Moret-sur-Long group was destroyed in retaliation. Furthermore, Raymond Dallidet, an important member of the PCF since 1931, was captured and unsuccessfully tortured for the names of the PCF leadership, though his life was spared.89

Jackson, 422. Jackson, 423. Jackson, 425. 27

Shortly after the German invasion of Russia, the PCF's initial push had been for a "National Front," in which all the other resistance parties would fight under the party's name.90 The other resistance movements, however, would have no part in cooperating with the PCF. Many resistance groups pointed out the obvious problem of trust. How could they trust a party that was technically allied with the enemy before June 1941?

Franc-Tireur, for example, published an article in one of its secondary journals, France-

Liberte, stating its policy clearly. The article/leaflet stated that France only had one enemy, the invader, whether they were from Berlin or Moscow.91 Hitler was always considered the number one enemy of the resistance; however, in the likelihood that the

Russians won the war, Franc-Tireur would never submit to Stalin's Bolshevik schemes either.

Other resistance groups such as de Gaulle's Free French blamed the PCF continually for incurring the repression and retribution of the Germans every time that their small bands committed acts of sabotage or were caught for distributing leaflets. In

Tulle, for example, it was reported that 40 German soldiers were assassinated by "les bandes communists."92 In retribution, 120 members of the Maquis were to be hung and their bodies thrown in the river. In the future, for every German soldier wounded, three

Maquis would be hung and for every soldier assassinated, 10 Maquis or accomplices would be hung. Therefore the Maquis, who were comprised of an amalgamation of different groups, were paying the price for minor acts of sabotage carried out by the

PCF." In March 1942, there was also an anti-Bolshevik exhibition put on display by the

90 Wall, 23. 91 Veillon, 55. 92 Aubrac, 169. 93Aubrac, 169. 28

Vichy government in Paris entitled "Le Bolshevisme contre 1'Europe," which explicitly designated the PCF as the enemy that had to be wiped out.94 German propaganda also played upon the French fear of general anarchy by labeling all acts of violence the work of "anarchists," "bandits" and "Bolsheviks." Ironically, this intense German focus on the

PCF subsequently helped to propel the postwar myth of the Communist Party as "the" party of the resistance.95

In June 1942, the Communist party once again changed its policy slightly, instructing all Frenchmen through its newspaper L 'Humanite to unite as patriots under the "Front National," whether they were socialist, radical or conservative.96 This represented a shift in policy because before that the PCF wanted nothing to do with the other resistance groups, but members now hoped that under PCF leadership the resistance could be united. This shift in approach was reminiscent of a return to the policies of the Popular Front strategy from 1934-38. At this time, significantly, the PCF also began increasingly to make references to events from the era of the French

Revolution. For example, in September 1942 the party launched a major campaign to celebrate the battle of Valmy. Valmy was symbolic and uplifting as an image of the resistance because it represented a time when the French revolutionaries defended the new republic against the Prussians, defeating the foreign invaders in 1792.97

As the war continued, this trend of using the memory of France's revolutionary past to legitimize the PCF's resistance struggles continued. Another example can be found in the 26 August 1944 issue of L 'Humanite, shortly after the . In

94Aubrac, 135. 95 Margaret Collins Weitz, Sisters in the Resistance: How Women Fought to Free France, 1940-1945. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1995, 61. 96 Jackson, 425. 97 Jackson, 425. 29 an article published in the paper on that day, Henri Reynaud, secretary of the CGT and secretary-general of the union of syndicates of the Parisian region, praised de Gaulle but also proclaimed that Paris had liberated itself, just like in 1793 and 1871. 1793 was the anniversary of the Jacobin takeover of power during the Revolution and 1871 was the anniversary of the Paris Commune, where citizens of Paris had established a radical government following the country's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War." Furthermore,

Reynaud stated that by following the CGT's directives everywhere in Paris, the workers went on a general strike in 1944 involving metro workers, public services, corporate employees and functionaries. He continued by emphasizing that it was truly the workers who had liberated themselves in the face of Nazi oppression. Finally, he called for the deaths of the invaders of Paris and those who had destroyed French villages in retaliation for resistance activities. Near the end of the article he again called on all

French workers to look to the lessons of the past for inspiration. These are clear comparisons to France's past victorious struggles such as the French revolution which the PCF promoted right up until the liberation to win more Frenchmen to their cause.

The truth was, however, that although FFI and COMAC100 attacked the Germans in large numbers after 14 August 1944, they knew that the Allied forces would be arriving in September, and they were supported on 25 August by some small Gaullist and allied forces on top of this.101

The PCF thus identified itself with past victories and emphasized its distinctive resistance record, but the reality was that many individuals and groups participated in

98 L 'Humanite, 26 August 1944, 2. 99 Bertrand Taithe, Citizenship & Wars: France in Turmoil 1870-1871. New York: Routledge, 2001, 5. 100 COMAC: The military action committee of the CNR (Conseil National de la Resistance). 101 Adereth, 125. 30 crucial ways to the resistance, as the case of Jean Moulin reveals. The consensus among historians is that the actions of Moulin, a young prefect of Chartres, were the main reason that the resistance movements united and were able to fight in a cohesive manner against the German occupiers until France was liberated in 1944. On 25 June 1940, while still serving as a government official, Moulin had his first formal meeting with the occupying forces. The next day the German forces asked him to sign a waiver condemning the French Senegalese troops for civilian deaths in Chartres.102 During the night, Moulin found broken glass and attempted to commit suicide instead of dishonoring the troops, one of his first acts of resistance.103 He continued working as a prefect for the Germans until November 1940, when he was dismissed by the Vichy government. Afterwards, he took several months to tour France, especially in the unoccupied zone to try and make connections with various resistance groups. Moulin finally met with de Gaulle on 25 October 1941 in London. Most of the information he supplied the leader of Free France came from meetings Moulin had had when he was traveling in southern France.104 Moulin's primary goal was to find a way to unite the

Free French under de Gaulle's leadership, with the other resistance parties currently operating in France.

Moulin convinced de Gaulle and London that he had extensive knowledge of various resistance groups. Specifically, Moulin reported the existence of Liberie, Henri

Frenay's Liberation nationale movement (known later on as Combat) and Liberation.105

Henri Frenay of Combat, saw Moulin's efforts as "mounting a Gaullist takeover," since

Jackson, 166. 103 Jackson, 429. 104 Jackson, 429. 105 Jackson, 429. 31 most Frenchmen saw de Gaulle at that time as a "right-wing general." Furthermore,

Frenay accused Moulin of making too many concessions to the Communists.106 This accusation did not make any sense because Moulin actually warned London while he was there that if the Free French didn't unite with the Resistance in France, the resisters would fall under Communist influence.107 Moulin then parachuted back into France 1

January 1942 with a mission to persuade the other resistance groups to be placed under the military authority of the Free French, in exchange for material and monetary aid.

Moulin's hesitancy to invite the communists to unite also indicates that he was concerned they might dominate the movement. This most likely influenced the

Communist leader's inability to unite the resistance under a national PCF front.

The PCF's inability to unite with the other resistance groups was a major problem and according to de Gaulle it had already forfeited its chance to be part of the

coalition because of preemptive acts of sabotage. Since the autumn of 1941, the PCF had

authorized its resistance members to engage in armed action against individual German

soldiers.10 De Gaulle condemned these acts as "premature" and held the communists

accountable for the 50 hostages who were shot in reprisal for the killings in 1941. The

PCF reversed the argument by stating that for every Frenchman shot defending France,

50 new recruits joined their ranks to avenge their dead.109 This represents just one more

example of how the PCF didn't make much of an effort to cooperate with the other

resistance parties, mostly because those parties rejected the PCF in the first place.

Therefore, without material aid or money from London, the PCF was left to continue

106Kedward, 58. 107 Jackson, 429. 108 Kedward, 59. 109 Kedward, 59 32 using its rusty revolvers and inadequate arms, depending on "terrorism" as an effective tool for resistance. These disagreements were the first signs of a strained relationship between de Gaulle and the PCF.

From the moment that Jean Moulin landed back in Paris on 1 January 1942, he worked tirelessly to unite the other resistance groups.110 Going by the codename "Max,"

Moulin tried to persuade the three big resistance groups, Franc-Tireur, Liberation and

Combat, to come to an agreement concerning if and how they would coordinate their clandestine activities. Negotiations were difficult and initially they only agreed in

August 1942 to cooperate on a paramilitary level, coordinating their forces for future engagements.111 However, all three groups were completely opposed to cooperating on the propaganda level. They deemed it necessary to keep each of their unique newspapers because they were able to appeal to more residents of their particular region. This was also a problem from the Communists' point of view, because they wanted to run a coordinated propaganda campaign through their newspaper, L 'Humanite. Moulin would create the Conseil National de la Resistance or CNR, which at least brought the various resistance groups together to discuss future plans of amalgamation. Though hesitant, the

Communists would eventually be represented on this committee as well.112

Moulin's real solution came into play in January 1943, when preliminary plans for the Mouvements Unis de Resistance or MUR were formulated. The heads of the

MUR consisted of 4 members: Jean Moulin, , Emmanuel D'Astier and

Jean-Pierre Levy.113 Henri Frenay was put in charge of military matters, Emmanuel

110Veillon,331. 111 Veillon,338. 112 Kedward, 59. 113 Veillon, 346. 33

D'Astier in charge of political affairs, and Jean-Pierre Levy was in charge of security and materials. The tentative fusion was made official on 26 January 1943. This division of tasks was designed by Moulin to create one unified French resistance group that also had specific leaders, each responsible for a particular department.114 From that point until the end of the War, the MUR represented the main resistance group in France, carrying out many operations as the Germans' political hold on France weakened.

Unable to cooperate directly with the MUR, the PCF continued to use its own "Front

National" to resist the Germans, but it simply did not have the resources or organization in the northern occupied zone that the MUR had in the southern zone of France. Moulin was essential to the Resistance, and probably prevented the PCF from playing a stronger role in its unification because he formed the MUR with the other resistance groups.

The PCF's relationship with de Gaulle's Free French movement also became complex. While there was a degree of compromise and cooperation, it was clear that the two movements were political competitors as well. In one article of L 'Humanite from 28

August 1944, Benoit Frachon, in the first legal meeting of the CGT following the

Liberation, "paid homage" to General de Gaulle, who had refused to accept the

Armistice in 1940.'15 This suggested the PCF was at the least on good terms with de

Gaulle shortly after the liberation of Paris. However, from the outset of the War the PCF wanted to seem ambivalent towards de Gaulle, to dispel suggestions that the communists were just another resistance movement supporting the Free French leader.116 The PCF wanted its Front National to become the paramount movement of the resistance, acquiring members from all the other parties, as its dealings with Colonel Remy

"4Veillon, 347. 115 L 'Humanite, 28 August 1944, 2. 116 Jackson, 466. 34

suggest.117 Remy was de Gaulle's representative in charge of negotiating with the PCF and Central Committee concerning the role of the "Front National" on French soil in

1944. On 28 November 1944 Remy signed off on an agreement between the PCF and the Free French. Remy thought that he had finally made the PCF rally to de Gaulle's

side. However, what the document actually did was put the PCF and de Gaulle on equal

1 1 O

footing, justifying the PCF's political role "inside" France.

Developments on the island of Corsica, occupied by the Italians during the war, provide an example of the tensions that could rise between the Communist-led Front

National and the Free French. The Allies landed on the island in July 1943, therefore the

Front National members on the island of Corsica prepared for an uprising in the wake of

Italy's defeat. On 9 September 1943, there were demonstrations on the island; the FN had already gathered all the villagers in the town squares to "elect" selected "Patriots."

When the Free French arrived a few days later, the FN had already taken control of some

200 municipal councils.119 In situations such as these the PCF took advantage of the

Allied military effort and through its own committees elected its own officials by

popular support on the island, even before the Allied forces had actually liberated

Corsica. These early disputes about territory demonstrated the rocky relationship that

was to come between de Gaulle and the PCF.

Despite these tensions with other movements, there can be no doubt that the PCF

was gaining in popularity; it had approximately 300,000 supporters by the end of the

war, and had built organizations involving a number of different constituencies. One of

the PCF's main goals during this period was to appeal to women, since shortly after the

117 Lynne Taylor, Between Resistance and Collaboration. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc., 2000, 66. 118 Jackson, 466. 119 Jackson, 467. 35 liberation they achieved the right to vote. Women also helped to systematically demonstrate through L 'Humanite how they played a role in the resistance and helped transform the PCF into the party of the resistance. Women were instrumental, especially in the beginning, in spreading leaflets and taking care of "clandestine" propaganda.

During the first two years of the occupation many Frenchmen were executed for small acts of sabotage such as cutting communication lines. Resistance was considered the actions of a minority, yet resisters thought it was their duty to resist against their government. For example, Agnes Humbert, a typist and secretary, decided with a group of friends on 19 September 1940 to publish 1000 copies of "Resistance" one of the earlier resistance leaflets published in France.121 Such women helped the PCF and other clandestine groups print massive amounts of illegal leaflets.

Women also protested food shortages, just as they had demanded bread during the 1789 marches to Versailles. Additionally, French women had an advantage when doing clandestine work because technically they weren't official citizens, which made them harder to trace. This is not to say that they didn't hold positions of power within the Resistance groups. Berty Albrecht, who seconded Henri Frenay in organizing

"Combat," helped produce the first newsletter entitled Combat which developed into a major clandestine newspaper in the southern zone of France.122 Another pertinent example was Lucie Aubrac, who helped found the "Liberation-Sud" movement and worked on its paper "Liberation." Unlike in the PCF, many of these women such as

Berty Albrecht, had the advantage of working closely with the men in positions of power because they were less liable to be suspected by the Germans of clandestine activities.

120 Weitz, 59. 121 Weitz, 59. 122 Weitz, 65. 36

On the other hand, the PCF already had women's groups before the end of the war, such as the UFF123 created in 1944. It also published L 'eternelle and the journal of Femmes

Francaises; therefore it was already in a good position to reach out to women after the war when they achieved universal suffrage in France.124

The commemoration of female martyrs for the PCF reinforced this goal. Danielle

Casanova, wife of (who was later to become the Stalinist cultural

'commissar' in France), was a dental surgeon in her early thirties when the war broke out. In 1935 she became the leader of the Jeunesses Communistes and she also eventually founded the group Jeunes Filles de France, a communist front organization claiming 20,000 members. In February of 1942 she was captured by the Gestapo and in January 1943 she was sent to Auschwitz and died of typhus later that year.126 After the war there were intense commemorations in her memory. A street in Paris was named after her and she was linked several times to France's ancient hero Joan of Arc. There were commemorations organized in her memory at the Salle Pleyel of Paris and as late as 1955 her enlarged portrait was displayed beside Joan of Arc's.127 Joan of Arc has always represented the female heroine of France's past, driving out foreigners (in this case Britain) with her religious conviction and saving France. Casanova's role for the

PCF during the war was now compared to that of Joan of Arc as she was seen as the modern female heroine, driving out the invading Germans. French citizens were inspired, after the war, to physically identify these stirring images of PCF heroes with the memory of the resistance and France's rich past.

" UFF: Unions des Femme Frangaises. 124 Weitz, 72. l25Caute, 160. 126Caute, 161. 127Caute, 163. 37

The French Communists recognized that endorsements from intellectuals could win them support. During the war, for example, Paul Langevin, a celebrated physicist, was arrested on 30 October 1940 by the Nazis while working at his laboratory in the

Sorbonne.128 Although he did not join the PCF until later on, he was friends with the communist intellectuals Georges Politzer, Jacques Solomon and Pierre Joliot-Curie.

Langevin was arrested for helping them publish a resistance journal entitled "Universite libre." Immediately after the arrest there were huge student demonstrations on campus with signs reading "Alert your comrades and your teachers! Demand Langevin's immediate release!"129 Such outbursts fueled the party's popularity and students who weren't Communist beforehand started joining, demonstrating how important it was for the PCF to promote its martyrs.

Support from intellectuals continued to be important as the war came to a close, and leading writers and thinkers who displayed sympathy for the PCF sometimes became martyrs for the cause. Consider the example of Romain Rolland, a famous

Parisian writer who was watched constantly and had his mail opened, and lived in fear of arrest or assassination. The French, British and American press mistakenly printed that Rolland was in a concentration camp, and later died. What actually happened during the war, however, was that from 1940 he changed from his outlook of disdain for materialism and class struggle, and manifested new affection for the PCF. His sympathy for the USSR and PCF increased to such an extent that he sent a letter of welcome to

Thorez upon his return to France in November 1944 from his wartime exile in

Knight, 69. Knight, 69. 38

Moscow.130 Tragically, Rolland would die of tuberculosis in Paris in December of that same year; the Central Committee paid homage to him in January 1945, and Thorez traveled to Vezelay to commemorate him. Rolland's final years as an intellectual demonstrated the new trend in which French thinkers during the war saw the PCF as the new saviors, when they died and claim their legacy for the party, the PCF would organize large commemorative celebrations.

There were also intellectuals who were more directly associated with the party, and their status as martyrs was even greater. The cases of Gabriel Peri and Lucien

Sampaix, both of whom worked for L 'Humanite, are particularly revealing. Before the war Peri, who had worked as the manager for the political section of L 'Humanite, was a strong proponent of the PCF's anti-appeasement policy. After France's surrender he had continued to work underground, but was betrayed in May 1941 and was shot on 19

December of that year.131 Before his death Peri was offered freedom if he renounced the party, but never did so. Sampaix, one of the editors for L 'Humanite, was summarily executed as well. As the war ended these individuals were commemorated by pro-

Communist writers and by the party itself, who gave them near-sainthood status. Paul

Eluard, a communist poet, wrote of Peri for example: "A Man is dead, who only had his arms wide open at life for his defense.. ,"132 Party poets who had never known Peri, such as Eugene Guillevic, found his loss unbearable and wrote of him as well.133 Peri had observed that his profession was a kind of religion, that the drafting of his daily article

"Caute, 159. 1 Caute, 160. 2Caute, 162. 3 Caute, 162. 39

for L 'Humanite was his sacrament. The PCF used its fallen intellectual comrades as PCF martyrs, which in turn favorably characterized the PCF as the party of the resistance.

On 15 December 1944 the PCF held a large commemorative ceremony in honor

of Peri and Sampaix in front of a packed Velodrome d'Hiver. From the beginning

Maurice Thorez spoke enthusiastically about his martyrs: "How right they were, Peri

and Sampaix! History has showed that they were right. Their political beliefs are what

now spur the new state to make the right decisions."134 In the Velodrome there were

huge portraits of Peri and Sampaix on display, with a phrase underneath stating: "Those

that have piously died in the name of their country." Next they sang Le Chant des

Girondins and Aux Morts, evoking the memory of past heroes of the Revolution. They

sang Le Chant des Girondins because even though the Girondins did not represent the

PCF as closely as the Jacobins, they still represented a heroic group from the Revolution

that had perished under the Terror, therefore making their song one of martyrdom. Aux

Morts was a traditional funeral song from the Revolution often sung during the Second

World War for fallen soldiers. The PCF was appropriating these songs to create a mood

all the more somber as it remembered its fallen comrades. Their names were read off

and several other deceased PCF members were named, followed by "to France's dead"

chanted by the crowd.135 Thorez then widened the focus to all the obscure heroes of the

war such as the Franc-Tireurs Partisans, the soldiers of the FFI, men, women, aviators

and naval officers who died for their country. Thorez also equally gave thanks to the

efficient soldiers of the Red Army, those of Sevastopol, Moscow and Stalingrad who

L 'Humanite, 15 December 1944, 1. L 'Humanite, 15 December, 1944, 2. 40 died for liberty. After this the Hymne aux Morts de la Revolution was sung, followed by the Marseillaise. Starting to speak again, Thorez addressed the crowd:

If I had to start my life all over again, I would have taken the same road as Peri. Comrades, what better words could we use to pay homage to our fallen martyrs? Like Sampaix, , Felix Cadras, Wodli, Nedelec, Ribiere, Solomon and Politzer, Gabriel Peri chose the road of struggle, of devotion and sacrifice.

Thorez continued the speech by speaking about the awful conditions that the FFI were undergoing and how France needed a real army, followed by a call for the SFIO, now reformed as France was liberated, to unite with the PCF against the men of Vichy and the 200 families. Finally, he dedicated the singing of the Marseillaise and

L 'Internationale to the two heroes, which the crowd sang loudly as they stood.

L 'Humanite promoted such stories and images continuously.

Many Jewish intellectuals were also targeted by the Nazis. Guy Mocquet, the son of a communist deputy in the Seine and also Valentin Feldman, a teacher of philosophy at Dieppe, were shot for sabotage. Andre Chenneviere, former director of L 'Humanite's literary pages and a young poet, was also shot. Many of these individuals were singled out because of their Jewish heritage. The PCF intellectuals were heralded greatly as the martyrs of the resistance, giving them almost cult status. was one of the main proponents of this view after the war, writing tributes to Georges Politzer, Jacques

Decour and Jacques Solomon. Even though they were largely heralded as heroes, Judt referred to many intellectuals as "last minute resisters" who had collaborated as late as

July 1941, flocking to the Gaullist message.138 The PCF did not recognize the fact that the Jewish intellectuals were being singled out because of their background; indeed,

L'Humanite^ 15 December, 1944, 2. Caute, 160. Judt, 47. 41 many of the Jews joined the PCF because of it was a party which enabled them to

'disappear.' Kriegel explained that after having severed all ties to the family and social life, Jews found often themselves at home in the PCF. This was particularly relevant for young Jews who had lost their entire family.139 The Communist Party was a group where the unanimity of the working class had appeal if one was trying to 'escape' from the

Jewish condition.140

This outlook had implications during the war, however. The PCF, like many other resistance movements in France, felt no more than indifference and even hostility towards the Jews, especially at the beginning of the war.141 The main interest that the

PCF had in Jews was their capacity to join the party and become resisters themselves.

They had formed the FTP-MOI142 in 1941; however, within this group a Jewish

Communist organizer Adam Rayski refused give the Jews specific recognition when referring to the French deportations, even though he knew about the Jewish deportation trains and failed to attack them. Therefore, the Communist Jewish Resistance put the interests of Communists before the fate of the Jews.143

Along with praising wartime resisters and mourning victims of the war in its own particular way, the PCF also called for the severe punishment of collaborators at this time. In a fairly typical example of Communist rhetoric, one article in L 'Humanite declared that "the entire Vichy bureaucracy should be shot as quickly as possible" to pay for their deeds. , the editor of the right wing newspaper L 'Action

Francaise, was put on trial and L 'Humanite constantly called for the death penalty

139 Jackson, 368. 140 Wall, 117. 141 Jackson, 370. 142 MOI: Mouvement d'oeuvre immigree. 143 Jackson, 368. 42 simply because he was a right wing opponent, though a harsh one who had called several times for harsh repression of Communists during the war.144 Before long, as subsequent chapters will demonstrate, PCF orators would weave the recent past into contemporary political debates, such as on 24 April 1946 when the headlines of

L 'Humanite stated that "voting no for our constitution [in the first referendum held that year] is the same thing as voting for Petain in an election."145 By associating the shame of Vichy's collaboration with opposition to its own plans, the PCF used the recent past to de-legitimize opposing views.

In conclusion, as France was liberated the PCF emphasized its resistance record and the glories of France's past to bolster its popularity and promote its agenda. This chapter does not deny that Communist supporters played a significant role in resistance activities, or that many of them suffered harsh punishments and even death.146 But it is crucial to bear in mind that the PCF had political objectives for the postwar period, and that the promotion of its image as the leading resistance movement was intended to support those objectives. As France was liberated, the PCF had already begun to celebrate its martyrs and achievements, and in the process sometimes distort the record of what had actually happened under the Occupation; for instance, the PCF downplayed

Moulin's role greatly. But the Communists were not alone in behaving this way. In

August 1944, de Gaulle's provisional government declared that the era of Vichy's rule over France was "void time," and should be stricken from the history books. De Gaulle wiped the slate clean from 1940 onward and simply interpreted the regime established

L 'Humanite, 26 January, 1945, 1. L 'Humanite, 25 April, 1946, 1. Knight, 65. 43 after the Liberation as a continuance of the earlier republic.1 7 He used the opportunity to paint a glorious image of the Second World War and the resistance, crowning himself its legitimate leader. It is important to remember that different resistance movements promoted their own postwar memories and myths. How the PCF did so following the

Liberation of France is the subject of the next two chapters.

Jackson, 1. 44

Chapter 2: L'Humanite and Propaganda in France, 1944-6

This chapter will explore how the French Communist Party used media and large gatherings, as reported in L 'Humanite, to promote its image and message after the

Liberation, until the spring of 1946. The PCF was in a complicated position at this time.

On the one hand it became part of a governing coalition, and as such it claimed to promote unity. On the other, it also had its own particular interests. It competed with the

SFIO, MRP, and other parties in elections, and campaigned in a constitutional referendum. As this chapter will show, in the pages of L 'Humanite the French

Communists constantly appealed to the events of the war years, but also various other

events in the French past, to support this complex agenda. Throughout this period the

PCF stressed its leading role in the resistance to reach an ever broader audience; it

sometimes distorted the past in the process. It also appealed to memories of events like

the Popular Front to encourage left-wing cooperation, even though it also tried to

compete with the Socialists for support. In addition, the party identified itself with key

moments in French history - especially revolutionary ones - in to emphasize its

patriotism, though it also made clear that its links to the USSR were powerful.

How successful were these appeals to memory? The PCF did not get everything

it wanted during this period. For example, it was unable to convince a majority of

French citizens to support its vision of constitutional change in the referendum of May

1946. And there were plenty of other challenges; the relationship between de Gaulle and

the political parties deteriorated, leading to his resignation as head of the provisional

government. But against all of this it must be acknowledged that the PCF continuously

gained support during this period, becoming the largest party in France in terms of 45 membership. While it is likely that a variety of factors contributed to this success, the evidence from L 'Humanite suggests that the PCF's ability to identify with French traditions, and to capitalize on its resistance record, played a key role in broadening its support.

Shortly after Paris was liberated on 25 August 1944, de Gaulle led a procession down the Champs Elysees, congratulating himself on his victory. The FFI and CNR had been successful in liberating Paris, and now de Gaulle had to lead the provisional government. The CFLN (Committee of National Liberation) had previously decreed on

21 April that local councils elected before 1939 be restored; however, if they were in any way affiliated with the Vichy regime, the prefect would select a new council. On

28 August de Gaulle disbanded the FFI, incorporating its members into the regular army.

The rest of the Patriotic Militias were disbanded by the end of October, a measure to which the PCF and CNR objected. De Gaulle had announced the creation of the GPRF

(Provisional Government of the French Republic) as early as 26 May, however it only officially began operating in August 1944.149

While the Communists might have lost some military influence through the disbanding of the FFI and the Patriotic Militias, their political clout continued to grow impressively. The PCF had some 300,000 supporters at the beginning of 1945; by the following year this had increased to as many as 800,000.15° This influence was reflected in the party's electoral success. In October 1945 the French elected representatives to a

Constituent Assembly, which was intended to determine the permanent form of the new government. The PCF did very well in the elections, winning 26.2% of the vote and 151

148 Jackson, 573. 149 Jackson, 587. 150 Sowerwine, 236. 46 seats. At this point it sought to form a coalition of the left with the SFIO, which had obtained 23.8% of the vote.151 Cooperation with others soon turned out to be a problem, though. While de Gaulle had accepted two Communist ministers in his provisional government, he did not want to give the PCF control over key ministries such as foreign affairs, defence, or the interior (police). The PCF protested and de Gaulle nearly resigned, but in November 1945 he reformed the government, which now included five

Communist ministers.152

The new government would be short-lived, however, since de Gaulle resigned on

20 January 1946, over conflicts with the other parties and disapproval over the draft

1 S^ constitution. This left the way clear for the PCF to form a coalition government with the SFIO and MRP, but the parties still disagreed about the draft constitution. The PCF and SFIO wanted a single-chamber legislature, which would represent a sharp break with previous practices. The MRP, fearing excessive left-wing influence, was opposed to such a plan. So were a majority of voters, who rejected the draft constitution by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent on 5 May 1946. This defeat for the Communists did not mean that their popularity was fading, though. In subsequent elections for a second

Constituent Assembly the PCF improved its vote total slightly, and in national elections held later that year it would achieve its peak success, with 28.8% of the total vote.154

During this time the PCF used its presence in government to cultivate support.

For example, while was the air minister in the provisional government under de Gaulle, he actively replaced non-Communist officials with party members,

151 Adereth, 137 152 Mortimer, 343. 153 Adereth, 138. 154 Sowerwine, 239. 47 placing many of his loyal supporters on the government's payroll. However, the

Communists also emphasized their resistance record, and the memory of those who had died fighting for them, and for France. From the beginning, the PCF proclaimed that its main goal and ambition was "to unite all of the French."155 One of the first clear examples of the PCF actively using large crowds to commemorate fallen victims to the

Nazi regime was a rally held on 2 November 1944.156 At the head of the crowd were

Comrades Daniel Renault, a frequent contributor to L 'Humanite, and Jacques Duclos,

Thorez's second-in-command and the deputy for Montreuil-sous-Bois, where the rally was held. That day 10,000 Frenchmen came to see them speak as they celebrated the memory of those Frenchmen who had died in the struggle for the liberation of France and more specifically, to remember the innocent children who had also perished needlessly.157 However, this gathering was only a build up to the impending

Remembrance Day celebrations, which the PCF planned to take full advantage of.

The first major manifestation of the immense support for the PCF took place on

11 November 1944, when over a million Frenchmen were present for the annual

1 CO celebration at the Unknown Soldier's tombstone. On this particular occasion, the

PCF's leader Maurice Thorez spoke of the need for commemorating the massive number of French soldiers who had died for the French cause on the field and had not received a proper memorial stone. Furthermore, he noted, many members of the resistance affiliated with the PCF had simply disappeared at the hands of the SS and Gestapo.159 In the headlines of L 'Humanite the following day, Thorez was praised as the savior of

155 L 'Humanite, 28 October 1944, 1. 156 L 'Humanite, 2 November 1944, 2. 157 L 'Humanite, 2 November 1944, 2. 158 L 'Humanite, 12 November 1944, 1. 159 L 'Humanite, 12 November 1944, 1. 48

French memory because he was able to attract so many Frenchmen to the Unknown

Soldier' s tombstone for Remembrance Day.'60

Another occasion where Frenchmen flocked to the PCF was on 1 December

1944. At the call of the French Communist party, 50,000 Parisians went to the

Velodrome d'Hiver to hear Thorez, again the keynote speaker, enthrall the crowd. At this speech he promised that the PCF would continue its strong resistance to the Nazis and provide food and shelter for Frenchmen from all walks of life.161 At most of the meetings which Thorez attended, however, he also often spoke of the strong relationship that France had with the Soviet Union, never straying from his strong Soviet affiliation, especially since he had spent most of the war in exile in Moscow. Thorez emphasized the Franco-Soviet alliance to remind his followers that they owed a lot to their Russian counterparts. During one such occasion on 12 December 1944 he proclaimed in his own words: "Five L 'alliance Franco-Sovietique. Vive Stalin et generalDe Gaulle!"

Throughout the winter of 1945 the PCF continued to invoke its wartime record to boost its appeal. It also went further into the past to find historical analogies to support its agenda. At a time when it stressed the importance of unity within a governing coalition, promoting positive memories of the Popular Front, and negative memories of the Popular Front's right-wing opponents, became important themes in PCF rhetoric. For example, on 11 February 1945, 250,000 Parisians were present at the Place de la

Republique where the PCF organized a rally to commemorate the victory of anti-fascism over the far right in 1934.163 In February 1934 France had been in crisis. At a time when

160 L'Humanite, 12 November 1944, 1. 161 L'Humanite, 1 December 1944, 1. 162 L'Humanite, 1 December 1944, 1. 163 L 'Humanite, 12 February 1945, 1. 49 the forces of fascism seemed to be spreading throughout Europe - Hitler had recently been made chancellor of Germany - in France far right-wing/fascist political groups such as Maurras' Action Frangaise and de la Rocque's Croix-de-Feu had organized street riots aimed at toppling the government of the day on 6 February.164 At the time the PCF and Comintern had responded to the riots with an offer of political cooperation to the SFIO; this agreement - "a pact of struggle against fascism" - had eventually culminated in the creation of the Popular Front, which had gone on to win the 1936 elections.165 In 1945 the PCF celebrated the anti-fascist cooperation and victories of the

1930s in order to promote more unity within the present governing coalition.

On 25 February 1945, 50,000 Frenchmen showed up at the Velodrome d'Hiver, a symbolic stadium once used to house French Jews awaiting German trains to take them to death camps, for yet another huge PCF rally.166 This time Maurice Thorez spoke outwardly about removing the lingering Vichy bureaucracy which was responsible for the French people's awful living conditions, deaths at the hands of the Nazis and their terrible situation in general. The rally was also a protest to call for punishment of those Vichyites who had committed war crimes while in office. A second strong demand heard at the rally was that for re-provisioning food, a process that was taking too long according to Thorez. The PCF promised that if they were elected to power they would make sure that the French people were well fed with plentiful provisions provided by the

1 CO . government. Therefore once again, the PCF used a large gathering to excite the working class and get them focused on the "terrible" things that had been done to the

164 Mortimer, 209. 165 Mortimer, 226. 166 Nora, 222. 167L'Humanite, 26 February 1945, 1. 168 L 'Humanite, 26 February 1945, 1. 50

PCF and to the French people as a whole. Orations such as these helped further define the PCF as the leading party of the resistance simply as a result of the repression it had undergone, even though its own wartime record was ambiguous and it was not alone in experiencing repression. Significantly, the PCF never referred to the Jews specifically when writing about the deportees in L 'Humanite. They simply referred to deportees as workers and family members.

In a more aggressive speech concerning his intentions for the PCF to receive recognition as the "party of the resistance," Maurice Thorez held another gathering on

27 April 1945 at Marseille.169 Thorez then proclaimed that he was the architect of the program of the Conseil National de la Resistance, which promised extensive social reforms.170 He continued by declaring in his speech that he was the one who forwarded the application for the program in the first place, and that the PCF was at the heart of the centralization of the resistance during the Second World War. These claims illustrate that Thorez in particular went to great lengths to appropriate the resistance as the PCF's creation. The problem with Thorez's statements is that it was actually Jean Moulin who put forward the idea of the CNR.171 The PCF had tried to unify the French resistance under the "Front National," which no other party joined. His statement illustrates that

Thorez would falsify the past to make the PCF look more like the founders of the resistance in France.

Perhaps the most effective use of popular memory the PCF employed in

L 'Humanite involved the creation of Communist martyrs out of regular Frenchmen. The

169 L'Humanite, 27 April 1945, 1. Conseil National de la Resistance: Means National Council of the Resistance. This Council was organized in part by Jean Moulin in 1942, when various small French resistance groups were trying to merge under a more centralized structure of command. 171 D. Veillon, 339. 51 first example is that of the martyrs of Chatou, a small suburb 10 kilometres away from

1 79

Paris. In August 1944 the FFI of Chatou chased and successfully captured 44

Germans soldiers and collaborators, as they were fleeing the allied forces. Another

German column, however, subsequently marched up to the chateau of Chatou and laid siege to it. The FFI inside were ordered to disperse in the town as the Germans were breaking in. August Torset, their leader, stayed behind to negotiate but was badly beaten and killed instead. The collaborator Graff picked out 15 members of the FFI who had dispersed among the crowd; the SS made them dig their own graves and then shot them.

'La Femme Toupnot', a woman interrogated after the incident, also collaborated by picking out members of the FFI in the crowd and spitting in their faces before they too were ordered to dig graves and were shot.173 In all there were 27 Frenchmen killed. The

PCF played heavily on this story, demanding harsh sentences for the two collaborators and heralding the deceased FFI as communist heroes of the resistance. The reality was that these particular FFI members had little or no affiliation with the PCF; they had simply wanted to liberate Brittany as the Allied forces went north to liberate Paris.174

However, they were used as martyrs to gain recognition for the PCF and help them continue to be identified by the people as the party of the resistance.

Another massacre which was used frequently to invoke the memory of the victims of the SS as communist martyrs was Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a small peaceful village that was burnt to the ground. Nazi forces had been burning towns to set an

"lL'Humanite, 20 March 1946,1. 173 L'Humanite, 20 March 1946,1 H.R. Kedward, Occupied France: Collaboration and Resistance. Oxford: Blackwell publishers Ltd, 1985, 77. 52 example for the resisters and scared them into submitting.175 On the morning of 11 June

1944, the town was reduced to a mass of burnt rubble. The Germans called it retribution for resistance activities in the area; however, the burning of the town was essentially a mass execution. In the end 642 people died in the massacre. These included 393 people living in Oradour, 167 from the villages of the commune, 33 people from Limoges and

25 others from different parts of Haute-Vienne.176 Some of the German divisions had negotiated a cease fire with the villages they were occupying when they had to evacuate, however, many German SS divisions, subject to ambush at every turn, retaliated by burning towns and villages.177 Oradour-sur-Glane was the victim of such treatment. The

PCF played up the massacred population of the town as communist martyrs who had fought the good fight in the resistance against their monstrous oppressors, even though most of the people killed were women and children, since the men had been sent to work camps. Yet, the PCF used Oradour as a site of memory, in which PCF resisters stood up and fought against the SS. Frenchmen could easily identify with the anger involved in the memory of so many killed. The memory of the murdered villagers gave the PCF that much more appeal as the party of the resistance.

While it was important to the PCF to seek retribution for the recent crimes of the past, the party also sought to appeal to the more positive legacy of the Resistance in broadening its support among French women and youth. Arriving at a time when the

Communists were facing serious parliamentary problems and intense competition, these new female voters for the party were indispensable. 7 Not surprisingly, the PCF went to

175 Farmer, 44. 176 Farmer, 24. 177 Kedward, 76. "s Kriegel, 68. 53

great efforts to get the support of women voters in their campaigns and for good reason.

A leading figure in the PCF's campaign to broaden its female support base was

Jeannette Thorez-Vermeersch, the soon to be wife of Maurice Thorez and the leader of

the Union des Femmes Frangaises.

The UFF was intended to reach out to women affiliated with the PCF but also

women who weren't necessarily in its direct sphere of influence. Its hours were designed

to be more accommodating for working women, meaning that many of the meetings

were held at night as a recruiting tool mainly to directly target these working women and

actively gain more women supporters.180 In reality the PCF had been trying to expand its

female support base for some time, even before the creation of the UFF. Therefore the

creation of the UFF was a useful and logical step for the PCF to take at the same time

because first of all it recognized that women needed their own group to properly

accommodate their work schedules and that this group could reach out to women who believed in a good working environment but had never joined the PCF.181

UFF members would typically go to the PCF rallies and demand faster re-

provisioning, better wages and more recognition for women. However, they also

engaged in promoting the popular memory of the PCF as a resistance party through mass

gatherings. On 15 March 1945, for example, the PCF held a large protest in the town of

Nance, attended by a boisterous crowd of 20,000 Nanciens.182 The UFF was also at this

gathering specifically to protest against the insufficient food supplies that were supposed

to be getting to the town's people. The women, who were the most outspoken of the

1 m Kriegel, 60: Maurice Thorez married Jeannette Thorez-Vermeersch in 1947. 180 Kriegel, 61. 181 Kriegel, 61. 182 L'Humanite, 16 March 1945, 1 54 group, finished the protest by singing the Marseillaise, in which everyone else joined.183

The singing of this chorus was unmistakably the UFF's way of using the popular French national anthem to evoke a strong collective memory of the war and the resistance that fought for France's recent liberation, although the Vichyites were also in the habit of singing the French anthem. It was also a way for the PCF to identify itself as a truly

National party. Under the slogan coined by Maurice Thorez for the PCF "S'unir, combattre et travailler,,,] the UFF served its role extremely well by uniting its supporters and remaining an important asset to the PCF's commemorative campaign.

The UFF's role in helping the PCF's identification with the Resistance did not end there. Shortly after the Nances protest, Jeannette Vermeesch reiterated the PCF's contribution to the resistance, and obtained an endorsement from the Soviet Union in the process. On 26 March 1945 Vermeesch received a telegram from the president of the

"anti-fascist" committee of Soviet women, Valentina Grizodoubova.185 In the telegram to L 'Humanite, Grizodoubova stressed the point to the PCF, UFF and the loyal supporters there that they were truly the party of the French resistance and that the women of the UFF now needed to be part of the resistance in their own way. This message was well received by Vermeesch since she also championed the resistance role that women of the UFF and PCF played during the war. In the telegram Grizodoubova added that:

Women should vote for the PCF because they had been struggling since the war began against Vichy aggression and many good French Communists had perished willingly against the Vichy government and Nazis.

m L'Humanite, 16 March 1945., 1 1X4 L 'Humanite, 2 Februrary 1945, 1: S'unir, combattre et travaiiler. To unite, fight and work. m L 'Humanite, 27 March 1945, 1 186 L 'Humanite, 27 March, 1945, 1 55

The PCF posted her full telegram on the first page, emphasizing the important role that the UFF played in the resistance and associating women's support for Communism with those achievements.

Another group that the PCF reached out to in a serious way were the thousands of children who had lost their fathers during the Second World War. The PCF held a special New Year's celebration on 2 January 1945 for all the Bambinsni who had lost their Communist fathers because the Gestapo had taken them or they had been deported.188 10,000 children were present at the event which was hosted personally by

Maurice Thorez and Jacques Duclos and also attended by the parents. At the festive gathering, etrennes1*9 were given out to each child who had never known their father because he had died for France or been deported to another country. Thorez was described as having truly sympathetic emotions towards the "little victims" of the war by a writer present from L 'Humanite.190

This was a show put on display by Thorez to gain the affections of the children and more importantly the families present for the "gift-giving" ceremony. In reality,

Thorez and the PCF were more interested in those children's deceased fathers because they were actively taking advantage of the images of grief stricken children for all to see, and to justify it as grounds for retribution against the occupier and French collaborators. They were primarily creating martyrs out of those fathers who went missing or were deported. Additionally, by bringing the children to the PCF's celebration, it automatically gave the impression that the fathers of those children had

187 Bambins: the direct translation in French means brat or babe, also known as children. 188 L 'Humanite, 3 January 1945, 1. 89 Etrennes: New Year's gift. 190L'Humanite, 3 January 1945, 1. 56

died or gone missing for the PCF, which was not necessarily the case. The more

sympathy the children received from onlookers, the more potential PCF members or

voters there might be. The PCF was more worried about what it was perceived to be

doing for the resistance as opposed to what it had actually accomplished. To cap the

meeting off, the PCF had the audience sing and dance to old songs from the Soviet

Union, as if to remind them why they went to the celebration in the first place.

A similar celebration was held over a year later on 18 April 1946, when 50, 000

children presented themselves at a PCF rally in the Velodrome d'Hiver.191 Attended by

the PCF and personally hosted by Thorez, the show featured children's acts such as

Hopp et Bobby, two popular clowns touring in France at that time. Afterwards, Thorez

was quoted saying that seeing the clown show and the multitude of children present

there watching with glee demonstrated an air of gentle hope, seldom seen in France

during those dark days. ' This event was suppose to be strictly a leisurely occasion for

the children to enjoy a nice show put on by the PCF; however, Thorez once again turned

it into a political occasion, though perhaps this was to be expected. Near the end of the

show, Thorez spoke to the crowd and called the children in the audience: "Mes petits

Camarades." Although this statement seemed innocent enough, Thorez was directly

referring to the children in the audience as future members of the PCF. This event was

also important because it forced the image of a youthful movement onto the audience,

recalling earlier days of the PCF when its leaders were younger. Annie Kriegel has noted

that the party was running a huge campaign to try and gain new younger (under 25)

1 L'Humanite, 19 April 1946, 1 7 L 'Humanite, 19 April 1946. 1 57 recruits, because of the large turn-over of members leaving the party as they aged.I93 For example, just a few years later in 1954, one out of every two members of the PCF was over the age of 40.'94 They were looking for long term members, and through these celebrations, Thorez found a way of expanding his future support base through the use of glorifying its fallen party members, enlarging the cult of martyrs within the PCF.

While the recent history of the war and occupation was central to the PCF's rhetoric of memory, other episodes in French history also received attention. On 1 April

1946, 40,000 people gathered at Albi to commemorate Jean Jaures' lighting of the furnace for the worker's Verrerie in Carmaux'95, which he lit for the first time 50 years before.196 In 1895, there was a strike at the glassworks of Carmaux, and Jaures supported the cause of the workers. Making little progress, Jaures suggested that they open a new

"verrerie ouvriere" as a cooperative.197 With a symbolic gesture, Thorez relit the furnace as Jaures had done, using the popularity of Jaures to help gain more support for the PCF.

This action was significant because in times of trouble, Thorez was appropriating the popular memory of Jaures, to the approval of the crowd. Jaures was the original founder of the PCF's newspaper L 'Humanite, and this was one way for the PCF to acknowledge him. However, the gesture can be interpreted in different ways. It could strengthen the alliance that the PCF was currently searching for with the SFIO, since Jaures was an ardent socialist. Simultaneously, however, the PCF was also competing with the SFIO by trying to appropriate the legacy of Jaures.

Kriegel, 48. Kriegel, 47. Verrerie: Glass making plant. L 'Humanite, 2 April 1946, 1. Goldberg, 106. 58

In a separate celebration on the 19 March 1946, the PCF had also celebrated the

751 anniversary of the Paris Commune, which was created in 1871 as the Prussian army was poised to march into Paris during the Franco-Prussian war. At that time there was much debate about whether France should fight on. The final consensus from the government was that it should hand over power to the Parisians, who promptly formed a

"National Guard," taking justice into their own hands.198 However, the new provisional

French government of the time sent troops to retake Paris, and carried out a ferocious repression of the Commune. The PCF depicted these events as truly akin to the current communist struggle against right wing forces in government.199 The Communists saw their struggle against Vichy as a bloody one for survival over the forces of oppression, just as the Communards had struggled against reactionary forces in the 1870s. Re-living these memories through celebration, Frenchmen were called upon to identify the heroes of the Commune with the PCF and its leadership, because in Thorez's eyes the struggles that they faced were nearly identical.

The PCF also made extensive reference to the events of the French Revolution during this period. Why the French Revolution? The PCF identified heavily with revolutionary ideals, which were recast in recent memory to conform to its own vision of

French society, and its professed goals of maintaining democratic self-government in a collectivist society. Above all, the PCF's resistance activities embodied the values of the revolutionary heroes of France's past, such as the Jacobins. It should be emphasized that these were not passively mentioned commemorative pieces on the last page of

L 'Humanite, either; often they were printed as front page news.

Taithe. 135. L'Humanite, 20 March 1946, 1. 59

In the 10 January 1946 issue of L 'Humanite, Pierre Herve published an article entitled "Reveiller Robespierre," in which he celebrated Robespierre as the "true" defender of public liberty in light of the great odds against him.200 For Herve,

Robespierre was the first true communist because he had tried to preserve the liberty of the people of France at all cost. This proclamation by Herve illustrates the close bond of memory that the PCF was trying to forge with France's revolutionary past and the political struggle that the PCF faced for "liberty" during its own time. Herve was broadly stating that all Frenchmen should be defending liberty as ardently as

Robespierre did with his last dying breath.201 One of the problems with this depiction, however, is that Robespierre was not actually a Communist, he was simply an ardent defender of the rights of man at the time, though he also advocated Jacobin violence and the suppression of the bourgeoisie. Frenchmen have a strong sense of history, and most still looked back upon the French Revolution and its revolutionaries as the defining moment in French history. By appropriating the memory of Robespierre and identifying it with the PCF, Herve used the rich historical awareness of the people to legitimize the


Even figures from France's pre-Revolutionary past were invoked by the

Communists. On 2 May 1946, for example, the PCF held a memorial service for the influential philosopher Rene Descartes.202 It was the 350th anniversary of his birth and the PCF praised him for the important principles of the French Revolution that he had supposedly helped to shape and develop. Thorez personally stated at the ceremony that he honored Rene Descartes' ideas for bringing a fresh sense; of logic and understanding,

200 L 'Humanite, 10 January 1946, 1. 201 L'Humanite, 10 January 1946, 1. 202 L 'Humanite, 3 May 1946, 1. 60 especially during the confusing times of the Revolution. Rene Descartes had had a strong influence on the ideas of the Revolution with his rationalist philosophy, which echoed many of the PCF's values. Thorez spoke of Descartes and other French heroes almost as recent fallen comrades who had done a great service for the PCF.

As these examples indicate, the PCF sought to present itself as a strongly

'French' party, appropriating various aspects of the national heritage to do so. However, the strength of the party's links to the Soviet Union must not be overlooked. On 21

February 1946 the PCF celebrated the anniversary of the creation of the Red Army.

According to the PCF's numbers, twenty-five thousand Frenchmen showed up at this event to join in the celebration of the creation of a foreign army.203 Only the PCF would proclaim itself to be of such ardent communist background as to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the creation of the Red Army and relate it to Parisians as an important historical landmark for France.204 The creation of the Red Army had only moderate effects on the way the French viewed their past history (although the Red Army had played a leading role in defeating the Nazis), yet Thorez sought to promote the idea that the commemoration of this event would evoke strong memories of friendship between

France and Russia internationally and nationally. Judging by the substantial number of

Frenchmen who showed up, he accomplished his goal.

In closing, this chapter has explored specific cases in which the PCF used

L 'Humanite as a tool to willingly promote its goals through commemoration, memorializing the Revolution, claiming to speak for the resistance and using the French victims of the Second World War as communist martyrs. of

L'Humanite, 22 February 1946, 1. L 'Humanite, 22 February 1946, 1. 61

L 'Humanite stated on 27 January 1945 that: "The Press is a weapon of France, it must be

kept powerful."205 With an estimated 2,770,000 copies of daily communist newspapers

sold in 1947, it appears that the PCF was successfully using L 'Humanite to gain political

power and influence through appeals to memory.206 From the end of the Second World

War through the spring of 1946, the PCF intensified its efforts to identify with the

legacy of the Resistance and with the patriotic history of France in general. By appealing

to new supporters and remembering the sacrifices of their loved ones, and identifying

with other revolutionary moments in France's past, the party tried to further its particular

goals. In the subsequent months of coalition government it would continue to do so, but

in ways that reflected the growing strains it experienced with its political rivals.

L'Humanite, 28 January, 1945, 1. Kriegel, 19. 62

Chapter 3: Last Chance at Leadership, 1946-47

From the spring of 1946 to the spring of 1947 the French government was

dominated by the 'tripartite' coalition of the MRP, SFIO, and PCF. The coalition was an uneasy one, however. The international situation, in terms of tensions between the

United States and the Soviet Union, was worsening, and both the SFIO and the MRP were increasingly distrustful of their Communist partners. There were further debates over what kind of constitution France should have, since the previous proposal had been rejected. Eventually the three parties voted a new draft constitution which called for two

legislative chambers instead of the single chamber previously favoured by the left. This draft was subsequently approved in a second national referendum held in October 1946, but only by 9 million to 8 million voters; another 8 million abstained, unwilling to

support the new constitution. What was now officially the Fourth French Republic was not off to an enthusiastic start. The regime had powerful critics, including Charles de Gaulle, who wanted a stronger executive, and who eventually launched his own political movement, the RPF (Rassemblement du Peuple Francais), in the spring of 1947 to achieve constitutional reform.

Following the second referendum there was a fresh set of legislative elections held on 10 November 1946; in them the Communists achieved their best score ever, with

28.8% of the vote, meaning that the other parties were forced to let them join another coalition government.20 There was still a lot of distrust of the PCF, though; Thorez was

James McMillan, Twentieth Century France: Politics and Society 1898-1991. London: Edward Arnold, 1992, 155. 208 Sowerwine, 237. 63 seen as much too "revolutionary" in his motives.209 This meant that the Socialist party, rather than the Communists, provided France with prime ministers, though the PCF did have cabinet members. Tensions continued to run high within the coalition governments, with colonial conflicts and social tensions causing major disagreements. In

April 1947 the PCF ministers walked out of cabinet to protest the arrest of a parliamentarian from Madagascar after a revolt on the island.210 The PCF also campaigned tirelessly to promote its "anti-imperialist stance" with respect to Indochina, especially since , the Vietnamese leader educated in France, was communist. It advised the current SFIO prime minister, Paul Ramadier, not to wage war on Ho Chi Minh, to no avail. Then, on 4 May 1947, the PCF decided to vote against its own government concerning economic policy, trying to force Ramadier to resign over lack of support for his policies. The Communists felt the Ramadier government was trying to lead France more towards the right by supporting the Marshall plan, putting down a nationalist uprising in Madagascar and intensifying a war against the

Communists in Vietnam. What instead transpired was the demise of the PCF's position in parliament, since Ramadier was able to persuade the SFIO to side with the MRP against the PCF. Ramadier informed the PCF that they would be replaced since they no longer had any political influence in the government.21' From that point on the PCF was in opposition, where it remained for decades.

What this chapter argues is that, as French politics became increasingly divided, the PCF continued to draw upon memories of the Second World War and earlier events to further its objectives, but adapted its use of memory to the changing context. In

209Tiersky, 142. 210Adereth, 145. 211 Mortimer, 357. 64

L 'Humanite the PCF continued to use popular commemorations of past heroes to present itself as the party of the Resistance, but it also increasingly used references to the recent and more distant past to condemn its rivals and opponents. In particular the PCF used popular memory from the Revolution and French historical memory in general to characterize de Gaulle and his allies negatively by comparing them to various dictatorial right-wing leaders of French history. This chapter will also prove that the PCF's articles were becoming increasingly inflammatory towards the SFIO because Socialist politicians like Leon Blum and Paul Ramadier were siding more and more with the

Americans and the MRP.

Throughout 1946-7 the PCF intensely commemorated its own martyrs and history, sought to define the legacy of the resistance, and appealed to France's revolutionary traditions. All of these commemorations were used by the PCF to stress its identification with France's rich revolutionary past to French citizens who might become future members of the party. In this regard the Paris Commune continued to figure prominently as a point of reference. On 29 July 1946, a commemorative issue of

L 'Humanite was published in which the PCF proclaimed that it was keeping the memory of the heroes of the Commune alive, because of the latter's importance to French history. Jacques Duclos noted enthusiastically that the Commune was a "prime example of a national movement clearing the way for national liberation."212 Duclos added that the Commune was a perfect example of how a few strong-willed citizens could resist their oppressors and make a stand, just as the PCF had done with its own clandestine resistance movement during the Second World War.213

212 L 'Humanite, 29 July 1946, 1. 213 L 'Humanite, 29 July 1946, 1. 65

Another example of the large commemorative ceremonies held by the PCF took place on 15 August 1946 in the town of Compiegne, where it held a large gathering in front of thousands of people to remember the victims of the war and Nazism. Two years earlier, had made a deal with Hitler to furnish him with workers while duping civilian prisoners of war in the process.214 The Germans were essentially using

Compiegne as a holding station to send prisoners of war off to Germany as laborers.

Between 15 and 18 August 1946, 100,000 Frenchmen were brought to the site and 54 special trains were commissioned to travel between Paris and Compiegne with fares

40% lower than the usual cost of a ticket, to commemorate the final journey for many of the prisoners of war sent to Germany in 1944. While preparing the site for the commemorations, volunteers also claimed to have found a famous tunnel that was used by resisters, including Louis Thorez (Maurice Thorez's father), to escape their fate as deportees and live to fight for the Communists again.215

Leading up to the gathering, several contributors to L Humanite encouraged

Frenchmen to attend the gathering for the sake of past French heroes. Robert Paulmier, an escaped prisoner of war, wrote in a 10 August article of L 'Humanite "We will go to

Compiegne and celebrate this occasion of remembrance, to affirm our union with the victims of the war. Yes, we shall also go to Compiegne to chastise the traitors responsible for our misfortunes."216 Before the gathering Octave Rabate, one of the ex- deportees from the city, pleaded with Frenchmen in the 13 August article of L 'Humanite to respect Compiegne's fallen heroes: "Our task is the most sacred one. We the deportees will keep our promises to our brethren who now pave the train tracks running

214 L 'Humanite, 15 August, 1946, 1. 215 L 'Humanite, 11 August 1946, 2. 216 L 'Humanite, 10 August 1946, 1. 66

to Mauthausen, Auchwitz, Buchenwald, Ravensbruck and Dachau." He pledged to hate

the Nazis, to Petain who was still imprisoned, and Reynaud and Daladier who currently

had posts in the government. Paulmier was surely angry when he wrote the article,

channeling that anger by placing the responsibility for his terrible experience on the

shoulders of Petain, Reynaud and Daladier.217 He also wrote that the French people must

uphold their promises to continue fighting for their fallen comrades. Several days later,

L 'Humanite urged Compiegne citizens to continue to honor the heroes of the resistance by celebrating the town's martyrs.21 The PCF also stressed the importance of

remembering all those who were deported from Compiegne during the war and never returned. By memorializing the deportations at Compiegne, the PCF was choosing to remember the workers that were lost, but also the resisters who were able to escape from

the railway stations. By commemorating Compiegne, the PCF created a site of martyrdom, but also another symbol of the resistance which the people of France

identified with.

PCF members identified the people who were deported from Compiegne as political deportees, war veterans and workers. Revealingly, they never specifically mentioned the Jews as a group. This illustrates how anti-Semitic opinions persisted in

elements of French society even though the war was over and the Jews were technically

liberated by the allies from Nazi oppression. Even though Communist doctrine officially rejected racism, in reality Communist attitudes towards Jews were ambivalent. In his book Divided Memory, which discusses the contrasting attitudes in West and East

Germany towards confronting the memory of the Holocaust, Jeffrey Herf notes that

217 L 'Humanite, 13 August 1946, 1 218 L 'Humanite, 13 August 1946, 1. 67

Marx's original definition of the Jews associated them with capitalism and the bourgeoisie. Many European Communists dismissed anti-Semitism as a tool of the capitalists, who were trying to divide the working population, but individual

Communists held anti-Semitic views.219 It appears that such attitudes led the PCF to overlook what had happened to France's Jews, 73,835 of whom were deported to the camps in Germany, with 95% of them perishing. These facts were marginalized for almost two decades after the war, and the tragedy almost forgotten. For France, Lagrou gives the credit to the historian Serge Klarsfeld for bringing the genocide to the light of day.220 But in the meantime, the PCF did not acknowledge what happened because Jews were still viewed as capitalists and because of persisting anti-Semitic sentiments in

France after the war.

The large-scale commemorations continued into the winter of 1947. On 4

January the party held a ceremony in honour of Colonel Fabien, a militant communist, at the Pere-la-Chaise cemetery in Paris. His companions in arms, Colonel Palmpaud and

Captains Katz and Lebon, were honored as FTPF heroes as well. Professor Prenant, previously a chefd'etat-major des FTPF, retraced the life of heroism of Fabien and his men. He also used the occasion to make a political argument, arguing that the current government was dishonoring these men by not letting the PCF assume the proper responsibilities of National Defense. No PCF deputy was allowed control of the departments of National Defense or War because the other parties speculated that the

Communists might launch a revolutionary uprising if they gained control over the

Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the two Germanys. London: Harvard University Press, 1997. 16. "° Pieter Lagrou, The Legacy of Nazi Occupation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000, 203. 68

army.221 It may not have been a legitimate concern at the time, but the SFIO and MRP

still feared it. The PCF erected a monument in Paris and honored Fabien as a national hero who died on the Alsace front, at Habsheim.222

Other Communist heroes praised that year included Gabriel Peri, who received the Resistance medal posthumously on 21 January 1947. At the ceremony he was described by Thorez as a "hero of national independence for the PCF," who would inspire others to sacrifice their lives in time of need.223 The following day Jean Thomas, a combatant with the FTP during the war, received the medal of the resistance from

Andre Marty, deputy for the PCF. Thomas was also proclaimed by the PCF to be the youngest resister of France.224 This glorification of a young hero by the PCF demonstrated the extent to which it was actively promoting the recruiting of young people within its ranks. Like the other lieux de memoires, the PCF marked Fabien's grave at the Pere-La-Chaise cemetery as a commemoration site to be appropriated by the

Communist masses. The PCF would promote these sites through L 'Humanite as historic commemorative sites of martyrs, thereby sustaining its credibility as the party of the

225 resistance.

Throughout these months the PCF also held commemorations in conjunction with the Union des Femmes Frangaises. On 28 January 1947 L 'Humanite published an article stating that Danielle Casanova, the founder of the UFF who had died in

Auschwitz, would be commemorated by the two organizations as a martyr for the PCF.

Another deceased member of the UFF, Jacqueline Quartermaine, was also

221 L 'Humanite, 7 January 1947, 2. 222 L 'Humanite, 5 January 1947, 1. 223 L 'Humanite, 22 January 1947, 1. 224 L 'Humanite, 30 January 1947, 1. 225 Nora. 222. 69

commemorated by the PCF with a huge public gathering.226 Such occasions reinforced the PCF's broader commemorative efforts. Were the women of the PCF commemorated in different ways then the men? Because there were more men than women in the PCF and it was initially a more masculine party, more men were commemorated; however, the women often seemed to be glorified more intensely. Casanova, as seen in the previous chapter, was compared to Joan of Arc. The evidence further indicates that women were recognized fully as resistance members by the party for their clandestine work such as counterfeiting papers. Even though such activities did not necessarily involve the same kind of risk as an armed raid, they were certainly dangerous, and the

PCF acknowledged them as such.

The French Communists also honoured resisters who may not have had close ties with the party, but who could nevertheless be linked to its values. For example,

L 'Humanite commemorated the massacre of 27 "PCF" patriots at Chateaubriand who had been gunned down on 22 October 1941 by the Nazis. Some of these fighters were

FFI, others Francs-Tireurs, however the PCF claimed them all as fighters with the Front

National.227 Earlier that same month L 'Humanite had also paid its respects to Jean

Moulin, the first president of the CNR. At the ceremony held at the Champs de Mars de

Beziers, Foreign Minister (of the MRP) presented a military medal to

Mile Moulin, Jean Moulin's brother, for courage, wisdom and heroics. Next Laurent

Casanova, a Communist Party Secretary since 1928 and Danielle Casanova's husband spoke:

Moulin was a fierce combatant, ready to give his life for the political expression and people that he believed in. There is no fight more important then the

226 L •Humanite, 28 January 1947, 2. 227 L 'Humanite, 22 October 1946, 1. 70

continuing struggle against what is left of the fascist groups, now showing its true colors after its defeat. The work is now our struggle and the tools are our arms. France will be reborn stronger than ever because it now knows the price of losing its independence and liberty.228

The speech is interesting because it avoids any reference to the mistrust that Moulin had

for the PCF, or the difficulties that existed between the Communists and other resistance

groups. Instead, Moulin is depicted as a fighter against fascism; the PCF would carry on his struggle against the remnants of Vichy. When Casanova referred to "what was left of the fascist groups," he meant all the collaborationists who had not been imprisoned, and

also all the ex-Vichyites who were notorious for joining the MRP or supporting de


Shortly after the elections of 10 November 1946 in which the PCF won nearly

30% of the vote, it was reported that Paul Langevin had passed away. Langevin was one of the most important intellectuals who supported the French Communists and was very well known in the scientific community because of his many discoveries in physics.229

100,000 people attended his funeral, and although it was not an official PCF event, its members planned and staged most of the speeches to characterize Langevin as a renowned PCF resister, identifying him as a party martyr even though he only officially joined after the war was over.230 The Communists continued to appropriate Langevin's memory in the months to come. On 23 January 1947, the PCF celebrated the 75th anniversary of his birth. The PCF was now going to extremes to hold commemorations quickly because Langevin had died only a month before .The PCF was now making it its

L'Humanite, 8 October 1946, 2. L'Humanite, 20 December 1946, 1. Knight, 69. 71

personal duty to hold commemorative celebrations, while encouraging support for the

party by commemorating the popular scientist.231

While the war years and its resistance activities dominated in terms of

commemorative efforts, the PCF also celebrated other highlights in its own past. It held

a huge gathering of party members to celebrate the anniversary of the creation of its

main newspaper, L 'Humanite, on 1 September 1946. According to the party's

unconfirmed counts, over 800,000 people showed up in Vineennes to hear Marcel

Cachin, the director of L 'Humanite speak passionately about his newspaper. In his

speech Cachin first called for a standing ovation for all the PCF's delegates present, notably Maurice Thorez, Jacques Duclos, Andre Marty, Benoit Frachon, Leon Mauvais.

Next, he spoke about the newspaper's history:

Since Jaures gave his newspaper to the Socialist party 35 years ago, the radiance and authority of! 'Humanite have not stopped growing. In 1920 after Tours, they [the SFIO] tried to take the newspaper away from the party that had just showed its confidence in the Soviet Union and Communism. In 1929, the persecution of Tardieu came very close to costing us our newspaper, which was narrowly saved from disaster. 10 years later in 1939, the Reaction worked tirelessly to suppress L 'Humanite, but we stayed faithful to the Franco-Soviet friendship which was guided to victory by Stalin. Today our newspaper is the first throughout France. It only recognizes directives from the PCF, the party of the intellectual and working French population. To the Socialist workers L 'Humanite offers a hand of fraternity. L 'Humanite has always defended peace against the internal traitors, fascists and imperialists. Secretary general Maurice Thorez will continue to faithfully serve the PCF.232

L 'international and la Marseillaise were sung by the French in attendance. 3 This gathering was just another example of how many people went to these PCF celebrations,

and it also accentuated the party's popularity shortly before the October referendum and

November elections. In the speech Cachin highlights the PCF's long history of being

'"' L 'Humanite, 24 January 1947. 1. 2" L'Humanite, 3 September, 1946, 1. L'Humanite, 3 September, 1946, 4. 72 persecuted and implicitly defended its consistent support of the USSR, despite the controversies surrounding the years 1939-41, by emphasizing the role of the Stalin and the USSR in defeating Nazism. Finally, the PCF was reaching out to Socialist members for support, perhaps in memory of the Popular Front, but also reflecting electoral competition between the two parties. These gatherings were critical for the PCF because the sites were visibly appropriated by the masses as its own. A good example of this was the Wall of the Federes where the defenders of the Paris Commune were massacred by the French army in 1871. The celebrations and commemorations were reinforced by the memory of the sites.234

Celebrations of the PCF's history continued that month when Marcel Cachin gave a commemorative speech on the anniversary of Karl Marx's birth on 16

September.235 This is significant because Karl Marx was the founding father of

Communist philosophy, which was further developed by Lenin. It also meant that the

PCF was still truly faithful to Moscow and displayed that respect to the French working people. The PCF used these speeches to inspire the French working classes and win them over to their party. A few days later, commemorative ceremonies were held for

Lenin, the founder of the Communist party, in front of 15,000 at Longjumeau, France.236

With Thorez unable to attend because of sickness, it fell to Andre Marty, another prominent deputy, to discuss Lenin's legacy:

All the genius of Lenin consisted of applying the Marxist laws which permitted him to analyze and orient the forces that assured a progressive development of humanity. Lenin reminds his readers that Marx and Engels developed the theory of scientific socialism by starting from the three sources of Marxism which were

Nora, 222. L'Humanite, 17 September 1946, 2. L'Humanite, 24 September 1946, 2. 73

the materialist Frenchmen who were at the origin of the French Revolution, the French socialism of 1848 and finally the immortal Commune of Paris.237

The speech ended with the singing of the Marseillaise. Such examples highlighted the efforts party members made to commemorate Soviet holidays and past heroes but also to identify them with France. In the speech Marty is actually blending the French and

Marxist revolutionary traditions closely by contending that Marx and Engels were largely inspired by events in France, which is false.

Clearly, the PCF stayed faithful to its Communist roots. On 16 January 1947

L 'Humanite published an article celebrating the New Year in Moscow, which under the

Orthodox Church occurs later than France's New Year.238 Two days later on 18 January, the newspaper announced that there would be a meeting presided over by Maurice

Thorez to mark the anniversary of the death of Lenin, who passed away 23 years ago.

On 21 January the article recounting Lenin's commemoration stated that thousands of

Frenchmen presented themselves in from of the Paris Central committee building, while

Maurice Thorez and Jacques Duclos spoke about Lenin's legacy to the PCF and

Communist parties everywhere.240 The article confirms that thousands of French onlookers were present at these massive gatherings to listen to the PCF identifying itself with great Soviet leaders of the past.

During this period the PCF began to use historical examples not only to glorify itself, but also to criticize its rivals and opponents. The growing tensions within the tripartite coalition were obvious when the PCF published articles such as the one by

2 ' L 'Humanite, 24 September 1946, 2. 238 L 'Humanite, 16 January 1947, 4. 239 L 'Humanite, 18 January 1947, 2. 240 L 'Humanite, 21 January 1947, 1. 74

Pierre Herve entitled "Leon Blum mal informe?"241 In the article, Herve accused Leon

Blum of putting forth a new constitutional project which was inspired by authoritarian and "neo-Bonapartist" conceptions. Furthermore, Herve alleged that after being presented to de Gaulle's "General Committee of Experts" (this was a fabrication, no such committee existed), Blum's constitutional project would take on a more authoritarian and dictatorial stance.242 This article was a clear attack against Blum and the SFIO's inability to pick a clear side during the earlier stages of the alliance. The PCF had been cooperating with Blum and his SFIO, however, the article demonstrated clear evidence that the tripartite alliance between the PCF and the SFIO was strained. The article also makes a direct comparison between Blum and "neo-Bonapartism," using the dictatorial nature of France's past Bonapartist regimes to condemn Blum's outlook.

A few days later L 'Humanite labeled the MRP as "Le lit de Bonaparte," arguing that the party was paving the way for authoritarian rule in France by pushing for a new, executive-oriented constitution that would give de Gaulle, out of office but still politically active, much more control and power over the government. 3 The reference to Bonaparte in was an important parallel which the PCF was now drawing between de

Gaulle and Napoleon's dictatorship. The PCF continuously lambasted the general for pushing for centralization of power and adopting right-wing policies, which was akin to what Napoleon Bonaparte did during the Revolution when he crowned himself emperor of France in 1804.

Soon the PCF began implicating other politicians in its negative characterization of de Gaulle, accusing other politicians of encouraging a "reaction" against the

241 L 'Humanite, 4 July 1946, 1. 242 L 'Humanite, 4 July 1946, 1. 243 L 'Humanite, 7 July 1946, 1. 75 democratic will of the workers.244 Pierre Herve wrote an article calling the government opposition parties the "Gaullist union campaign," similar to the society of the "10th of

December 1849."245 The society of the 10th of December was a group of citizens appointed under Prince Louis Napoleon to carry out his demands. The PCF was comparing this group to the current politicians who presented de Gaulle as the

"patriarchal savior of all classes in society." The PCF accused the Gaullist faction numerous times of using "Bonapartist ideas" and ignoring all other parties involved. On

19 September, Pierre Herve continued to criticize de Gaulle by citing a Marxist portrayal of Louis Napoleon: "Napoleon thought that he was above everyone and that life was but a vulgar comedy in his mind." Herve added that de Gaulle would certainly agree.246

Through these comparisons, the PCF sought to present De Gaulle and his allies as a dictatorship in waiting.

The PCF's articles towards the SFIO also became much more inflammatory, especially after the 10 November elections because the PCF had been able to maintain first place in popularity.247 On 23 November 1946, Leon Blum was accused of defaming and misinterpreting the arguments of Maurice Thorez during one of his parliamentary speeches/"0 The PCF was attacking Blum because of his rapprochement with the western allies. For example, in January 1947 Blum was visiting London in his capacity as premier and foreign minister. Although he insisted that the meeting was solely to discuss economics, the PCF and the USSR leaders were dubious. The next day Molotov and Stalin brashly announced that Blum was initiating an Anglo-French alliance at the

244 L 'Humanity 10 September 1946, 1 L'Humanite, 17 September 1946, 1 246L'Humanite, 17 September 1946, 1 L 'Humanite, 11 November 1946, 1 L 'Humanite, 23 November 1946, 1 76 meeting.249 Though Blum was not actually initiating an alliance, it was clear to the PCF that there was a rapprochement being formed between France and the western powers under Blum's guidance. Moreover, Blum was accused of being a traitor to the workers' cause and of moving closer towards the MRP. The PCF was also attacking the SFIO because the Communists were clearly leading the Socialists in the polls; it seemed that they might no longer need the SFIO's support and would benefit more from trying to attract their members. References to the need for left-wing cooperation were now fewer, though the Communists still remembered the events of 1934 as a moment of left-wing unity. 25° The shift in the PCF's outlook can also be seen in the attitude L 'Humanite took towards the British Labour Party, which was ideologically closer to the SFIO. For example, on 24 July 1946 Thorez wrote an article stating that the PCF was counting on the British Labour party for international support.251 But on 27 October 1947, Pierre

Herve criticized the chairman of the British Labour party, Harold Laski, for encouraging the PCF to lobby the SFIO more persuasively to safeguard the "principles of 1789, " accusing Laski of being a "pseudo-Marxist."252 It seems the PCF was distancing itself from moderate socialists and moving into a more oppositional role.

The anniversary of the Paris Commune gave the PCF an opportunity to go further in this direction. First on 17 March 1947 an exposition on the Commune was held at Saint-Denis, inaugurated by Auguste Gilliot, the mayor of the city. The event featured art work, stamps and caricatures from the time of the Paris Commune.253 This exposition was one method by which the PCF encouraged the memory of the Commune

249 Rieber, 338. 250 L •Humanite, 29 January 1947, 2. 251 L 'Humanite, 25 My 1946, 1. 252 L 'Humanite, 30 October 1947, 1. 253 L 'Humanite, 18 March 1947, 2. 77

through art and culture from the period. It was a very effective way for the PCF to subtly

use the memories of the Paris Commune as building blocks to appropriate its legacy for

the party. On 18 March 1947 Jacques Duclos held a large commemoration in honor of

the 76th anniversary of the "popular patriotic reaction" against the "upper class traitors."

Moreover, he added that the crimes of Versailles during the Commune, such as when the

Communards were executed by a military firing squad, were but a preface to the Hitler

reaction afterwards, taking place during the 1930s. Another speaker at the

commemoration, Pierre Andre, shouted that the PCF had fought for the dreams of the

Communards during the war. The entire crowd stood on their feet and gave him an

ovation, singing first the Marseillaise, and then the International™ The singing of these

two songs at the end of the commemoration demonstrated that the PCF was trying to

associate itself directly with the participants of the Paris Commune, but also with the

cause of international revolution. This also reflected the PCF's adoption of a more

oppositional stance in relation to its supposed partners in government.

On 3 April 1947, Maurice Thorez held a huge gathering to praise the Resistance

but also to stigmatize its "faulty exploiters" in his view, referring to the SFIO and MRP,

with which the Communists were still in a coalition. Once again the Marseillaise and the

International were sung. Andre Marty also vehemently accused de Gaulle and the other

parties asfaux-patriotes, masquerading as the primary resistors after having in fact been

counter-resisters. Marty even claimed that de Gaulle and the other parties had initially

collaborated with Philippe Petain, the leader of the Vichy government in 1940 by not

staying in France to aid the Resistance.255 It is understandable that the PCF seemed

4 L'Humanite, 19 March 1947, 1. xS L 'Humanite, 4 April 1947, 1. 78 desperate in attacking the other parties so recklessly, especially since it was trying to organize a vote of non-confidence in the Ramadier government, and would be forced out of government the following month. Recalling the 21 October 1941 massacre of 93 patriots at Chateaubriand, Nantes and Bordeaux, Thorez criticized de Gaulle heavily for not supporting the internal Resistance of France more directly on 6 June 1944 after the liberation. "Nine tenths of the FFI sent to liberate Paris was comprised of PCF FTP members," Thorez proclaimed. With 50,000 Parisians present, Thorez explained how de

Gaulle menaced the democratic republic, adding that the PCF was the first party to call forth the Resistance in July 1940. The worst part of the massacre at Chateaubriand was that afterwards, de Gaulle instructed the Resistance not to retaliate against their German occupiers, alienating resisters, according to Thorez. Also, the same people who lobbied to amnesty Petain, such as the MRP and SFIO, were now screaming for de Gaulle to take power.

While the PCF intensified its efforts to dissociate de Gaulle from the resistance it continued to make its strong links to the Soviet Union clear when, on 21 April 1947, the party commemorated the fallen heroes of Stalingrad. Those who attended sang the

Marseillaise while Thorez proclaimed that the battle for Stalingrad was comparable to the struggle of the FTP; fighting with little or no arms they pushed back an invading army. Then, on 24 April 1947, L 'Humanite described how Henry Wallace, the former

US vice president and Secretary of Commerce, had paid tribute to memories of the CNR and Jean Moulin, its first president. This incident is interesting because at the time the

PCF were accusing the United States of isolating the USSR out of Europe through the

Marshall Plan and backing right-wing leaning parties in France. It thus makes sense that

256 L •Humanite, 22 April 1947, 1. 79

L 'Humanite would give positive attention to Wallace, who had recently been removed from his post because of his opposition to Harry Truman's tough policies towards the

Soviet Union.257

Shortly after its ejection from the governing coalition in May 1947, the PCF began invoking historical events that identified the party more clearly with the French people in rebellion. On 25 May 1947, the PCF commemorated the memory of a hero of the Commune, Eugene Varlin, at the "Mur des Federes", a historic site where the defenders of the Paris Commune were massacred by the French Army in 1871.258 Varlin was a member of the central committee of the Commune of Paris and was killed on 28

May 1871.259 Once again, the PCF directly associated its party with the same struggle that the members of the Paris Commune had gone through in 1871, even though their current political situation was quite different from the one at that time. The PCF also specified that the story of the Paris Commune taught French people that the popular initiative undertaken by the leaders as it was encircled by the soldiers was to create discourse between regular Frenchmen and the government that was leading them, because the Communards believed that the government was completely disconnected from the democratic issues of French citizens. The PCF promoted the story as an example of a courageous effort to regain control of a government by democratic means, which it also saw itself as doing.

The heritage of the Revolution was also employed to reflect the PCF's new oppositional status. An important commemoration was held by the PCF on 29 May 1947 for the "First militant Communist," Graccus Babeuf. It was the hundred and fiftieth

257 L •Humanite, 25 April 1947, 1. 258 Nora, 222. 259 L 'Humanite, 25 May 1947, 1. 80 anniversary of Graccus Babeuf s death in May 1797, and the first commemoration in which he was used as a martyr for the PCF. Babeuf, L 'Humanite claimed, had inherited the Jacobin tradition of the French Revolution and was trying to continue what

Robespierre had started. The gathering concluded by stating that the Revolution only ended after the 9th Thermidor (or Babeuf s death), and Babeuf was simply continuing to protest against the feudalist system when he was executed by the new government in

1797.260 Babeuf fought so strongly for egalitarianism that the PCF deemed him the first

Communist because he held the same basic beliefs that the PCF had been fighting for since its inception. The PCF also identified with Babeuf because he had rejected a political system that had become too conservative, a situation it believed was comparable to what was currently going on in France.

By this time the French Communists also had a new and formidable opponent to focus upon. In April 1947 de Gaulle had launched his new political movement, the RPF.

At first he claimed the RPF wasn't a political party at all; it was supposed to embody national unity. But in fact it strongly opposed "separatist" Communists and wished to revise the new republican constitution." ' Before long, L 'Humanite was comparing de

Gaulle and his supporters to past dictators. Pierre Herve wrote that de Gaulle's speeches reminded him of Napoleon Ill's and Boulanger's efforts to impose their rule on the

French people. While the populace had approved a democratic constitution in the spring of 1848, a few short years later, on 2 December 1851, it was scrapped by Napoleon III, and the republic was effectively strangled. Similarly, in 1889 General Boulanger, a nationalist general and former minister of war, used the same arguments of

0 L 'Humanite, 1st June 1947, 1. 1 Sowerwine, 263-4. 81 strengthening the French presidency to try and replace the Third Republic with an authoritarian regime. According to Herve, de Gaulle's views simply amounted to another revisionist doctrine inspired by the dictatorial leaders of France's past.262 These arguments were not as effective in discrediting de Gaulle as the PCF had hoped because de Gaulle's popularity in the polls continued to rise; however, they do illustrate how the

PCF actively used the memory of the Revolution and French history to attach negative connotations to de Gaulle's bid for leadership. Later that year L'Humanite would also link de Gaulle with imperialist American trusts, and compare him to La Rocque, leader of the Croix-de- Feu, as well as the Cagoulc, an ultra-nationalist conspiratorial group that had tried to use terrorist tactics to overthrow the Third Republic during the 1930s.263

The PCF used commemorative events extensively during 1946 and 1947 as it hit the peak of its popularity. Through its newspaper L 'Humanite the party promoted itself as the leader of the Resistance by comparing itself and many of its values to the French

Revolution. The PCF also made use of revolutionary values to target de Gaulle and its political competitors, characterizing them as "the reaction." The Communists were moving towards an oppositional role because they knew that in an upcoming Cold War

France would chose to side with the West, leaving the PCF little or no negotiating room to cooperate with other French parties. Therefore, it continued to use its historical characterizations but this time to associate de Gaulle with dictatorial leaders of France's past. Specifically, the PCF often quoted de Gaulle as saying "L'Etat e'est moi," a phrase that goes back to the absolutist monarch Louis XIV. In The Vichy Syndrome, Henry

Rousso explained that as a political tactic from 1946-1950, de Gaulle appealed to the

L 'Humanite, 3 April 1947, 2. L 'Humanite, 29 July 1947, 1. 82

Petain camp, stirring up pro-Petain to increase his own support.264 This only reinforced the PCF's attempted association of de Gaulle with Petain. Similarly, in his book The

Past in French History, Robert Gildea explains that de Gaulle was reconstructing the collective memory of Bonapartism in order to benefit from its positive points.265 In reality however, after he resigned from government in 1946 he hated to be associated closely with Bonapartism. In 1948 he was greeted at Nice with crowds shouting 'Au pouvoir!', and he replied, "No, I am not Bonaparte, nor Boulanger, I am General de


Rousso, 71. Gildea, 63. Gildea, 83. 83


This thesis illustrates how the PCF systematically depicted itself in L 'Humanite

as the party of the resistance by commemorating, appropriating and sometimes

misrepresenting events in French history. I chose to focus on the period between 1944

and 1947 because these years represent the peak of popularity for the French

Communists. As the epilogue of Edward Mortimer's The Rise of the French Communist

Party notes, the years after 1947 were truly years of frustration and decline for the

French Communist party." Not only had the PCF been legally forced out of the

government, it also faced the chilly prospect of lighting a cold war ever more present in the heart of France.268 It would remain politically isolated until it renewed its alliance with the Socialists in the 1970s and joined the government of President Francois

Mitterrand in the early 1980s.

After its exit from the French government offices, the PCF did continue to

commemorate many of its heroes, however. On 22 December 1947 it celebrated Stalin's

68th birthday, with L 'Humanite wishing him good health. On 27 December, the PCF also

celebrated the 1864 law replacing the old "Le Chapelier" law, written by Isaac Le

Chapelier. The Le Chapelier law prohibited guilds, trade unions, and strikes. Louis

Napoleon III was forced to grant the people the 1864 law, giving them the right to strike

again.269 Therefore, even though its popularity and influence in government decreased,

the PCF continued to utilize its newspaper to emphasize its deep roots in the French past, its strong ties with the Soviet Union, and to further its political goals.

267 Mortimer, 361. 268 Adereth, 144. 269 L 'Humanite, 27 December, 1947, 1. 84

A factor which played heavily on the PCF's dismissal from government by

Ramadier was of course the onset of the Cold War. Many PCF members were actually positive about the party leaving government because they felt that the PCF had been in an unrealistic and powerless position, since the French government chose to side with the Western democracies in April 1947.270 The decision to accept the Marshall Plan was part of a deal with Britain and the USA to give up the Ruhr to the Americans and receive

Saar coal in exchange under a tripartite agreement between France, Britain and the USA.

The PCF also organized huge strikes at this time, although it repeatedly denied that these were intended to spread anarchy and disorder for the new French government.

Through its labor union, the CGT, it first called on all workers to go on strike until

further notice. By 26 November 1947 1.5 million Frenchmen were on strike. By 27

November that number had grown to 2 million, then 4 million on 28 November.271 The

CGT's official position on the matter was that it did not condone the actions of

"Trotskyists or anarchists," however, it did not stop the workers from striking. The day before the first strike on 25 November, Thorez had stated that the people of France would not suffer from falling wages while they were told to increase production. For a man representing a party that vowed to stay impartial in the strike, Thorez seemed to be taking a side. The strikes, however, failed to disrupt the government of the day, and the

PCF eventually began a slow decline. At its height of 1946, the PCF claimed that it had sold 800,000 memberships. From 1946 to 1955, that number declined to a low of

389,000. The PCF was losing party members fast and the myth of the resistance that it

u Adereth, 144. 1 L 'Humanite, 28 November 1947, 1. 85 had been building was not enough to sustain the party.272 The PCF continued to heavily promote deceased intellectuals as martyrs, but as Pierre Nora states in his "Gaullistes and Communists,1' the party was simply creating a new social calendar filled with celebrations and commemorations for its own benefit.273

At the same time the political right was reviving, and it promoted its own distinct view of the war years. Robert Gildea notes the sharp political shift in the national elections of 1951, when de Gaulle's RPF elected 121 deputies, against 102 for the

PCF.274 Sympathizers of Marshal Petain, after years of relative silence, became more vocal again. Among the most prominent was Gustave Herve, who had the reputation before 1914 of being a violent antimilitarist and anti-patriot, but the First World War had transformed him into a militarist and nationalist. After 1935 he used his newspaper La

Victoire to campaign heavily for an "authoritarian-Republic," guided by a strong leader such as Marshal Petain.275 During the Second World War Herve was a strong supporter of Petain and in 1951 his newspaper La Victoire was once again defending the memory of the marshal. Paul de Cassagnac and Pierre Taittinger, former Bonapartists, were part of de Gaulle's staff for the election. La Victoire however, was mainly a tribute to the memory of Marshal Petain, embracing the new sympathy that some Frenchmen felt for the collaborationists of the Second World War. 7 It also demonstrated that even de

Gaulle, the self-made politician, wasn't beyond taking Petain's support and inheriting it as his own.

Mortimer, 361. Lazar, 224. Adereth, 155. Gildea, 79. Gildea, 83. 86

Another action which provoked some of the other parties was initiated by

Colonel Remy, one of the executive committee members of the RPF, who drafted a speech for de Gaulle in which the general would say: "France must always have two strings in her bow. At that time it needed the de Gaulle string, but it also needed the

'1*7*7 1 7p

Petain string."' This same line turned up in an article in the Carre/bur,' a resistance newspaper founded near the end of the war. which provoked much political antagonism.

Le Populaire of 12 April 1950 stated that the RPF was trying to rally the Vichy forces for the destruction of the republic. That same day, L 'Humanite accused Remy of encouraging "imperialist aggression against the Soviet Union." Remy resigned shortly afterwards. There is no doubt that de Gaulle was seeking support from Petainists, to the detriment of the opposition parties.279

The changing atmosphere also manifested itself in popular culture, notably the cinema. According to Julian Jackson, initially the Resistance squeezed out alternative opinions on the occupation. Most of the films that aired in 1946 celebrated the

Resistance. La Bataille du rail depicted the heroism of the working class as railway workers sabotaged the trains. Another film, Le Pere Tranquille, depicted a middle class insurance agent who was secretly a resister and a hero. However, as the 1950s came, films changed focus from the resistance to the occupation. Jeux interdits produced by Rene Clement in 1952 told the story of two children traumatized by the war. Finally

Andre Cayatte's Nous tous des assassins from 1951 portrayed a young man who

277 Rousso, 37. Gisele Sapiro, "Carrefour," in Jacques Julliard and Michel Winock, eds., Dictionnaire des Intellectuels Francais, 2nd edition Paris: Seuil, 2002, pp. 258-60. Carrefour. was originally launched in 1944 after the liberation, and supported de Gaulle. Beginning with a reformist. Christian Democratic view, it became more conservative as time went on, taking a hard line stance on colonial wars and viewing de Gaulle as the saviour of France. 279 Rousso, 38. 280 Jackson, 604. 87 starts killing for the Resistance but cannot stop once the war is over. He had no political motives of preferences in the movie, and could have killed for either side. The PCF and resisters alike disliked this movie because it displayed an immoral side to the killing, making it seem pointless.2 These films suggest that as the 1950s progressed,

Frenchmen became less sympathetic to the resistance cause and became more accepting and perhaps in some cases forgiving of the collaborationists.

These trends suggest that Communist appeals to a heroic legacy of resistance were less effective with the passage of time. That said, an exploration of the PCF's commemorative culture between 1944 and 1947 is quite revealing. Evidence from

L 'Humanite during this period shows just how important history and memory were as tools for the PCF in building support and reinforcing its day-to-day political strategy.

While the Communists' great popularity during this period was likely the result of several factors, the enthusiasm with which crowds responded to commemorations of fallen heroes suggests that the party's resistance legacy was of considerable importance in gaining support. At the same time, the PCF could be flexible. When it sought to operate as a member of a coalition government, it invoked the need for unity, and the previous example of the Popular Front. When tensions arose with its partners, the PCF began to use the past to criticize de Gaulle, the SFIO, and the MRP. The Communist mobilization of memory shows that the party was deeply rooted in French political culture, but also that the Soviet Union was a huge presence in the doctrine of the party and at meetings of the Comintern; on more than one occasion the PCF tried to meld the two traditions. The growth of the PCF in the early postwar years suggests that these

1 Jackson, 604. 88 tactics had some success, but they were not enough to secure lasting power for the

French Communists. 89


Primary sources

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L 'Humanite (central newspaper for the French Communist Party, edited by Marcel Cachin). Paris, 1944-1947.

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Adereth, M. The French Communist Party: a critical history (1920-1984). Dover: Manchester University Press, 1984.

Berstein, Serge, ed. Les Cultues Politiques en France. Paris: Seuil, 1999.

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Gildea, Robert, France Since 1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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Jackson, Julian, France The Dark Years: 1940-1944. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Judt, Tony, Past Imperfect: The French Intellectuals, 1944-1956. Los Angeles: University of California press, 1992.

Julliard, Jacques, and Winock, Michel, eds. Dictionnaire des Intellectuels Francais, 2" ed. Paris: Seuil, 2002.

H.R. Kedward, Occupied France: Collaboration and Resistance. Oxford: Blackwell publishers Ltd, 1999.

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Knight, Frida, The French Resistance. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1975.

Kriegel, Annie, The French Communists: Profile of a People. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Lagrou Pieter, The Legacy of Nazi Occupation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Larkin, Maurice, France Since the Popular Front. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

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Mortimer, Edward, The Rise of the French Communist Party 1920-1947. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1984.

Rieber, Alfred J., Stalin and the French Communist Party, 1941-1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962.

Rousso, Henri, The Vichy Syndrome. London: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Sowerwine, Charles, France Since 1870: Culture, Politics and Society. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

Taithe, Bertrand, Citizenship & Wars: France in Turmoil 1870-1871. New York, Routledge, 2001.

Taylor, Lynne, Between Resistance and Collaboration. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Tiersky, Ronald, French Communism, 1920-1972. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974.

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Buton, Philippe. 'kLe Parti Communiste Francais et le Stalinisme au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale," Journal of Modern European History 2:1 (2004), pp. 58-81. 91

Judt, Tony. "Un Historiographie Pas Comme Les Autres," European Studies Review Vol. 12 (1982), pp. 445-478.

Judt, Tony. "The Past is Another Country: Myth and Memory in Postwar Europe," Daedalus 121.4 (1992), pp. 83-118.

Maier, Charles. "A Surfeit of Memory? Reflections on Memory, Melancholy and Denial," History and Memory 5.2 (1993), pp. 136-151.

Pierre Nora, "Gaullists and Communists," ed. Lawrence D. Kritzman, Realms of Memory, Volume 1, 1992, pp. 205-239. CURRICULUM VITAE or CV

Candidate's full name: James Andre Beattie

Universities attended: UNB, B.A., M.A. history


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