1940-1944

Occupation and Resistance

Hitler met Vichy France’s 80-year-old head of state on October 24 1940
German motorbikes travelling up the Champs Elysée in a victory parade in 1940
The politics of Liberation in August 1944. This map in Matthew Cobb’s Eleven Days in August’ (2013) showshow nearly all of Paris’ 600 barricades were built in left-leaning and working class areas of the city

Occupation, Collaboration, Resistance, Liberation, De Gaulle, Communist Party – in progress

1944-1948

From Liberation to the Marshall Plan

Liberation of Paris August 1944

Liberation, Women’s suffrage, Fourth Republic, Elections, Nationalisations, Social Security – in progress

The Provisional Consultative Assembly was originally based in Algiers from November 1943 to July 25 1944 with 102 delegates. Lucie Aubrac was nominated to sit on it in after her arrival in London in February 1944, but having just given birth was unable to get to Algiers, where she was replaced by her husband Raymond. who flew straight there, and also sat as a representative of the resistance group, Libération-Sud.

On 24 March 1944 a Communist resistance fighter and deputy for Saint-Denis, Fernand Grenier, moved the successful amendment carried by 51 votes to 16 that became article 17 signed by De Gaulle on 21 April 1944. It stated: ‘Women are electors and eligible to vote on exactly the same conditions as men‘.

The Consultative Assembly moved with the Provisional Government to Paris after its liberation, and its membership was then increased to improve its representativity. From November 1944 its 248 delegates represented both the resistance movement and political parties. Among the Communists represented were the former deputies André Marty and Gaston Monmousseau and the CGT leader, Ambroise Croizat..

Its meeting at the Luxembourg Palace in Rue Vaugirard initially only included 12 women such as Lucie Aubrac although this was later increased to 16.. Its sessions there ran from November 7 1944 to August 3 1945.

Communism

Communism as an international struggle for freedom. This 1951 socialist realist painting by Boris Taslitkzy shows French dockers fighting to stop arms going to French Indochina

What is shared between those who define themselves or are defined by others as ‘communist’? And how may ‘Communism’ be distinguished both from French anarchism and French socialism, with which it shared much common history and ground?

Babeuf was guillotined on 27 May 1797 as leader of the Conspiracy of Equals against the Directorate

Manifesto of Equals

The 1795 Paris revolutionary ‘Manifesto of Equals’ inspired by François-Noel Babeuf and rescued from oblivion by Philippe Buonarroti (1761-1837) summarised what remained (and remains) common to nearly all those who described themselves as communist across the following two hundred and some years:

We need not only that equality of rights written into the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen; we want it in our midst, under the roofs of our houses… We lean towards something more sublime and more just: the common good or the community of property! No more individual property in land: the land belongs to no one. We demand, we want, the common enjoyment of the fruits of the land: the fruits belong to all.

We declare that we can no longer put up with the fact that the great majority work and sweat for the smallest of minorities. Long enough, and for too long, less than a million individuals have disposed of that which belongs to 20 million of their kind, their equals.

Let it at last end, this great scandal that our descendants will never believe existed! Disappear at last, revolting distinctions between rich and poor, great and small, masters and servants, rulers and ruled.’

After agreeing to this general statement of belief, communists had much more to disagree with each other upon.  

We have divided the considerable history of Communism in France into five periods:

Communism 1830-1917

For nearly 80 years before the redefining of communism with the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the 1920 formation of the…

Communism 1918-1938

The Communist (Third) International was formed in Russia in 1919. The Soviet Communist Party directly dictated French Communist Party policy from…

Communism 1939-1947

From the shock of the 1939 non-aggression pact between Moscow and Berlin to holding ministries in the French government from 1945…

Communism 1978-to date

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the end of the Soviet Union, changes to its traditional working class constituency…