Rue Japy

Arrondissement 11

Number: 2

The Salle Japy on the left photographed about 1900

Opened in 1870 the road was named after the paternalist industrialist Frédéric Japy. In the late 18th century he invented machine tools that could make some parts of clocks and built workers’ housing to keep his skilled home workers close. Some of his workshops were nearby.

No. 2 was built in 1870 as a covered market, but it was then converted in 1884 into a gym that could also hold political meetings and was known as the Salle Japy. In the 1900 photograph above the Salle is on the left.

The Salle Japy was where the first steps towards unity of the different French socialist organisations took place between December 6 and 9 1899. Jaures, Guesde and Allemane were all present.

At the end of this meeting the new version of l’Internationale was sung together by the different groups for the first time, becoming the anthem of French socialism. The song’s words had been written in June 1871 by the Communard Eugène Pottier to the tune of La Marseillaise, but they were set to the currently-known melody in 1888 by the Belgian socialist Pierre De Geyter.

Many other significant left meetings took place in the Salle Japy. On April 22 1920 the Third Federal Congress of the Railway workers there decided to call an unlimited strike from May 1st for the nationalisation of the railways. On March 7 1925 Marcel Cachin told a Communist meeting there ‘It shouldn’t be that women have two bosses: their employer and their husband’.

But under the German Occupation the hall was also first used as an internment centre for around 5,000 ‘migrant’ Jews. ‘Foreign’ Jews were the first to be rounded up on May 14 1941 and then deported to their deaths.

On July 16 1942 when René Bousquet, Secretary-General to the Police for the Vichy Regime, ordered the partially autonomous French police to round up Jews in Paris, women and children were interned in the Salle Japy before being deported.