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.
Opened in 1804 this world famous cemetery gets its name from Louis XIV’s Jesuit priest confessor from 1675 to 1709, François d’Aix de La Chaize. This was the period when the Sun King, having decided that anyone who was not a Catholic was the ‘enemy within’, revoked the 1598 Edict of Nantes that had tolerated protestants. While discriminatory measures took off from 1661, persecutions intensified from 1679 leading up to the 1685 revocation in the Edict of Fontainebleau. One per cent of the population, some 200,000 Huguenots were then forced out of France.
In 1780, finally, all cemeteries within the city walls were closed. As Consul Napoleon decreed that cemeteries should be open to all faiths and to the poor as well as the rich. In 1803 the land on the hill was acquired by the Prefect of the Seine department and the design of the cemetery entrusted to Alexandre-Theodore Brongiart.
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?
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: