Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Rise of Paris

By Robert Ballanger

Paris Resistance Fighter & Communist Leader 1945

FOREWORD by Ted Bramley

Secretary, London District Committee, Communist Party.

This is a story that will stir the blood and fire the imagination of every Londoner who reads it. It is the story of the people of Paris in action against the Nazis.

It is a first-hand description of history in the making, told by one of the people who helped to make it—a leader of the Paris Resistance Movement, Robert Ballanger.

A metal worker by trade, not more than 32 years old, the Secretary of the District Committee of the Paris West Communist Party, and member of the Joint Committee of the Communist and Socialist Parties, Ballanger worked -and fought in the front ranks of the people of Paris throughout the German occupation.

We give you this story just as he told it. The facts will speak for themselves. The rich experience, the valuable political lessons will be quickly grasped. Running -like a red thread throughout is the service rendered to the people of Paris, of France,-and of the world, by the Communist, Party.

We see how it strove to have Paris transformed into a fortress against the onrushing Germans in 1940; how it raised the banner of resistance in the blackest days; how its best leaders were taken to concentration camps and never faltered, even when hostages were executed; and how it rejected any idea of a truce with the Germans and reached its triumph when all Paris responded to its slogan:


No wonder with the record of such service for and with the people, it should have become the greatest Party in Paris with 100,000 members, a circulation for its paper, I'Humanite of 300,000 and support numbered in millions.

To the Londoner who reads this story, I say—if this message means anything to you at all, you will want to join the Communist Party in London and create for our people an instrument capable of serving them as effectively as the French Communist Party has served the people of France.

If you are already a member of the Communist Party, one conclusion above all others you are bound to draw, and that is that you will not want to rest by night or by day until you have gone out among your neighbours, your friends, and your workmates to convince one, two, a dozen or more that their place is with you inside the Communist Party. With 50,000 to 100,000 organised Communists in London, what is there that can stand between the people and their inheritance?


This is a translation of the speech given by Robert Ballanger, Fraternal Delegate from the Paris Communist Party to the Congress of the London Communist Party on January 21, 1945.


It was with great pleasure that the Paris District Committees of the French Communist Party accepted your fraternal invitation. I bring greetings of all the Communists or the Pans region. I am sure that I am interpreting the feelings of every inhabitant of the capital of my country, in bringing to the citizens of your great martyred city the expression of our loyal and sincere friendship.

We are both faced with the same stubborn, cruel and bestial enemy—Hitler Fascism. Ever since 1933 our leader, our great comrade, Maurice Thorez, warned us of this peril and exposed the true face of Hitlerism. With clear foresight, he called upon all men who treasured Justice and liberty to stand together and combat the danger with threatened all free peoples.

Hitlerism was the hope of all the forces of reaction and when in our country, thanks to the wonderful rallying of our people during the memorable days of February, 1934, we checked the French Fascists, they turned towards Hitler, calling on him for help and support, and prepared to surrender, our country

to German Hitlerism. What they could not do to our country by themselves, they hoped to achieve by delivering France to the enemy.

From that time onwards, the French Communists have been in the forefront of the struggle to defend our motherland threatened by the Hitlerite Fascists and their accomplices the Fascist Fifth Columnists, the Deats, the Doriots, the Lavals, the Bonnets, the de la Rocques and others.

I need not enumerate the various stages: the refusal to apply sanctions against Italy in the war with Abyssinia, the policy of non-intervention, Munich, the anti-Soviet policy which led to the isolation of our two countries, to war in 1939, and to the reverses of our armies in June, 1940.

At that time, at the very moment when the Hitlerite hordes were advancing on Paris, our Central Committee, hunted by the police, threatened with the guillotine, made concrete proposals for transforming the character of the war, to turn it into a national war for independence and liberty, by freeing the imprisoned militant workers, by immediately arresting the swarms of enemy agents working in the Government and Ministries, and by arming the people to make Paris an impreg-

nable fortress.


But these proposals were turned down and Paris was surrendered to the enemy by the traitor General Dentz. Then on June 23, 1940, a date remembered with anguish and bitterness by all Frenchmen, our country was handed over, tied hand and foot, to Hitler, by a handful of traitors led by Petain and Laval.

This was a very difficult period for both our countries. We place on record our great appreciation, our admiration, our gratitude for the glorious Red Army which, by its heroism, its sacrifices, its strength, the warlike ardour of the Soviet people,

the military and political genius of their great leader. Marshal Stalin, alone held in check the Hitlerite armies, shattered the might of the proud Wehrmacht, and in three years of gigantic battles, killed or put out of action 9 million Hun soldiers and destroyed 70,000 aeroplanes and 60,000 tanks.


Thanks to the Soviet people, thanks to the Russian Bolshevik Party, the backbone of Germany's power has been broken, her military force shattered and the beast has been driven back to its lair to face its last fight before its final and complete destruction. It is the Soviet Union which has saved us from the worst of all catastrophes.

Today, one single all-essential task faces all peoples, the destruction of Hitlerite Fascism, and this can only be achieved by fighting the war to a victorious and speedy conclusion.

At our Paris District conferences, we examined these problems and studied the best means of mobilising the people of Paris to build up a powerful national Army, to keep our great Paris engineering factories going, to enable our country to play an ever-growing part at the side of our Allies, because we want a strong, united, well-armed French army to march to Berlin alongside our American and English allies.

Yes, we want to fight so that we may restore our country to its rightful place as a great, free and independent nation. We want to fight with all our strength to wipe out that hideous disease called Fascism. We want to smash it in Germany, its principal stronghold, but everywhere else as well where it has been able to find accomplices.

We have suffered cruelly in this war: our towns, our villages, our factories have been devastated—1,100,000 of our houses have been destroyed You, too, have paid a heavy tribute in this war. The Hitlerite savages have vented their fury on your capital, but the mourning and the ruins, far from having under-mined us have, on the contrary, aroused us to fresh efforts We are absolutely determined to destroy Hitlerite barbarism once and for all. We are prepared to accept still further sacrifices for the complete crushing of Germany and to brine about its unconditional surrender.


Yes, we want to fight because we have in our hearts a terrible hatred against the Nazi barbarians who, for four years plunged our country into a blood-bath; we have this-hatred because for four years we have known the really terrible face of Fascism

One must have lived under this dictatorship to realise the crimes which are perpetuated by the Hitlerite soldiery. The tacts are so horrible that they surpass the imagination. I am sure that our comrades in Allied countries who have not known German occupation find it difficult to believe that the tales of the horrible Hitlerite crimes are in fact true.

In fact it: is difficult to believe the widespread massacres of millions of men, women and children in Soviet Russia, in Poland and m Greece. It is difficult to imagine the gas chambers, the trenches, several hundred yards long, which the condemned are forced to dig before being made to lie down in them and be machine-gunned, layer on layer. These crimes are so horrible that the imagination of the normal human person can hardly conceive them, and yet they are true. What we have seen in France enables us to declare that the criminal sadism of the Nazi soldiery is capable of still more terrible massacres

I want to describe to you some of the terrible crimes committed in our country by these savage beasts.

During the four years of occupation, 150,000 Frenchmen were tortured and shot. Of these 75,000 were from the Paris Region, and of these 60,000 were members of our Party.

A few eye-witness accounts will illustrate the degree of bestial cruelty of these killers far better than general statements.

The underground fighters who fell into the hands of the Vichy police or of the Gestapo, were submitted to terrible torture they paid the price of their silence with the atrocious suffering which very often resulted in death. Here are a few facts of

the treatment inflicted on our comrades. I wish to insist that what I am going to describe was not exceptional but, on the contrary, it was the general rule of what happened to every patriot, every Communist fighter, who fell into the hands of the quisling police or the Boche.

A comrade was placed on his stomach, his hands and feet chained, then put into presses. His limbs, especially his feet, were completely deformed.

Another had on his buttocks wounds which bled so much that the blood came through his trousers and his back was in the same state. The next morning they took him into another room to recommence the same tortures as those inflicted on the previous day.


A young worker at the police station at St. Denis was beaten with truncheons for five consecutive hours by eight police officers until his lung collapsed.

A patriot was tied stark naked to a table for 26 hours while police officers, in relays, beat him up with electrified truncheons.

At Rennes, a patriot, before being shot, was beaten up for 27 hours, his sexual organs were pierced with needles and his feet burned by a blow-lamp.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the forms of torture inflicted. One of the most usual methods was to submerge our comrades first into an ice-cold bath and then into a boiling hot one. Another which was often used consisted in giving electric shocks to the most sensitive parts of the body. Finger-nails and toe-nails were often pulled out and the teeth of prisoners broken.

Very often tortures, which lasted for 8 to 10 days, resulted in the death of those tortured.


These brutes wanted, by the odious treatment inflicted on our comrades, to force them to give information which would have led to further arrests, but the comrades remained silent.

The most terrible tortures brought nothing to these butchers but the disdainful silence of their victims. Our Party is proud to have given to France men of this calibre, men who did not give way in the face of any torture or even death. All of them, from the most humble militants to members of our Central Committee, such as Gabriel Peri, Pierre Semard, Georges Woodli, Felix Cadras, Charles Nedelec, Ramier, Robiere, Catelas—died to prepare " morrows of song."

But they were not content to torture and shoot patriots active in the struggle: in their unrestrained savagery they massacred entire populations of peaceful citizens such as at Asq, at St. Claude, Oradour sur Glane and many other place which are now no longer villages of France—villages which were once so full of life, of joy and of prosperity, but are now heaps of ruins, horrible slaughter houses.

And these are not isolated cases: scenes equally atrocious took place in tens and hundreds of villages of France.

Our boys of the Maquis were tortured, and very often before being shot their eyes were gouged out, their limbs broken. The Hitlerite brutes trained strong-arm men recruited by Vichy, the Darnand militia, and criminal police agents, who assisted the Nazi torturers and sometimes attempted to be even more cruel,

showing in this way that Fascism is the most extreme expression of cruelty, of sadism and of the most primitive barbarism.

And it was in these conditions that our struggle took place—a hard struggle, a terrible struggle, a struggle strewn with the corpses of our martyrs. Yes, the French people as a whole have paid a heavy price in the war against Nazism, and it is the sum total of these sacrifices which today enables us to demand our

place as a great power by the side of the other great nations.

It is to the eternal glory of the French Communist Party that it was the first to call for struggle against the Hitlerite invaders within France itself.

In July, 1940, in a manifesto signed by Maurice Thorez, and Jaques Duclos, secretaries of our Party, we declared: "France, though still bleeding, is determined to live as a free and independent nation. Never shall a great people such as ours be a people of slaves. France shall not become a semi-colony. France, with its glorious past, shall not fall on its knees before a gang of hirelings, ready to perform any dirty work.

Our hopes for national liberation and social well-being lie in the hands of the common people. Our working class, proud, militant, confident, courageous, will be the mainspring of the Liberation Front for the independence and re-birth of France."

And so General de Gaulle was not alone when he spoke in London and appealed for resistance. We undertook the struggle on the soil of our wounded motherland and our struggle since that time has been uninterrupted.

We rejected the cowards and those with a wait-and-see policy. We rejected them because we were determined that our motherland should again become a great, free and independent nation and because we knew that independence cannot be won by passively awaiting help from outside, but that it can only be won in struggle. We are a proud and free people and we intend to remain so.

I should like to say a few words about the main stages of our struggle, the struggle which came to its climax with the magnificent national insurrection and especially with the Great Parisian uprising which enabled the people of Paris to welcome the troops of General Leclerc in a Paris liberated by its own people.

This insurrection was the fruit of four years of incessant struggle and, as our Comrade Benoit Frachon stated in an article in our illegal Humanite:—

" It was first of all necessary for us to reject the false notion that national insurrection would just happen one fine day by order of some committee or other, and until that day came we should sit around doing nothing, on the fallacious pretext of not wasting our forces. Those who defend this conception, which can only result in demoralisation, show a complete lack of understanding of the problems of national insurrection."

From July, 1940, our comrades formed Popular Committees to take the place of the Trade Unions, which had collapsed. These Committees organised the workers and called on them to take strike action for their demands.

It was the Michels, the Timbaults, the Poulmarchs, the Granets, who were later shot at Chateaubriant, who were the organisers of these first movements.

After that, dozens of strikes took place. Thanks to these Strikes hundreds of thousands of hours were lost to Nazi arms production and every day, thanks to this incessant struggle, the fighting capacity of our factory workers developed.


It was in response to our calls to the people that the first mass demonstrations, drawing in all sections of the population, took place in Paris and in the provinces.

On November 11, 1940, the Paris students who demonstrated in the Champs Elysees were fired on by the Germans, several of them being killed and wounded. As a result, resistance increased.

On July 14 and November 11, 1941, even more important demonstrations took place in which the people of France showed the German occupationists their determination to carry on the struggle.

On September 20, 1942, a great date in the history of our country, our Party called on the people of Paris to commemorate the anniversary of the battle of Valmy. The streets were strewn with leaflets and stickybacks, the walls were covered with slogans —a magnificent and inspiring demonstration took place.

The Boches were afraid. They retreated before the people of Paris and ordered a curfew from 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoons.

Further demonstrations were held on July 14 and November 11, 1943, and on the same dates in 1944.

Each year these demonstrations of the people of Paris became more powerful, more united, better organised, more militant.

They were so many blows struck at the accursed Germans and their Vichy accomplices. Each year our people showed that they had not lost confidence and demonstrated their unbreakable determination to struggle against the Boche and against the usurpers until final victory.

During these four years we called for 'the unity of the whole French nation, for the unity of all patriots without distinction of opinion, because we knew that only by the complete unity of every possible French patriot could our country be saved.


It is to our Party that falls the honour of having formed the first group of Francs-Tireurs and partisans (F.T.P.F.). These F.T.P.F. have written one of the most glorious pages in the history of our country. Cowards shouted: "Stop! If you

continue your attacks against the Germans, French hostages will be shot." These eo-wards hid behind theoretical arguments in an attempt to bring our struggle to an end and to force us to take refuge in passivity, which would have, in fact, meant the final capitulation of France. But from the Chateaubriant camp came the stinging reply. The 27 martyrs who went to their death shouted to us: " Continue." " The salvation of France lies in struggle. We are going to die so that she shall live. Continue the fight against the Boche so that our motherland

shall be free and independent." And we therefore fought strenuously. At first alone, then little by little the patriots joined us in the struggle, and it, was the first struggles of the F.T.P.F. which led to the formation of the French Forces of the Interior. This vast army, without uniform, made up of patriots of all opinions, conducted the most murderous fight against the Occupation forces under the most difficult conditions.

We fought without arms, because we had no arms. The men of the Trusts who, id their hearts, fear the people, prevented the few arms that were dropped by parachute from getting into the hands of the men who were fighting. They preferred to give them to the cowards,-the " wait-and-seers," who were building up depots for D-Day, depots which regularly fell into the hands of the enemy, while only too often our comrades succumbed because they were unarmed. In our Paris Region specially the struggle was difficult because we never received arms.


The first German officers to be killed were killed with improvised arms. It was with hammers that our courageous fighters struck down the first Nazis, in order to take their revolvers from them. What more striking example can be given of the fighting ardour of the people than the example of our great hero. Colonel Fabien who, in July, 1941, at the head of a group of F.T.P.F., brought down his first German officer and who, three years later, at the head of thousands of fighters,

brought about the capitulation of a proud unit of the Wehrmacht at the Palais du Luxembourg in Paris. This was the same Col. Fabien who has just heroically met his death leading his regiment into action on the Lorraine front.

Yes, our armed struggle took place under the most difficult conditions, but nevertheless we obtained results. For instance, here is the balance sheet of three weeks of struggle, published in the communique of the Committee of the F.T.P.F. of the Paris Region on May 15 to June 10, 1943:—

1 General, 1, Colonel, ,2 Lieutenants killed.

135 N.C.O.s and soldiers killed or , wounded.

12,000,000 litres of alcohol destroyed. .

2 factories working-for the Boches completely gutted by fire.

2 E-boats, 25 wagons, 2 locomotives, 2 railway tracks destroyed or damaged.

2 German goods trains derailed.

3 Collaborators, 'traitors to France, shot.

These heroic exploits, chosen from amongst thousands, were carried out in most cases with bombs made with sugar, of chlorate of potash, bits of metal and empty preserving fruit tins.

Do you know that incendiary bombs were made with sulphuric acid and petrol? Do you know that fires were started by comrades using tinder boxes instead of matches; that in factories, at the risk of their lives, Paris workers turned hand grenades? It is in this way that the people of France fought. And it is for this reason that the people of France are today determined that France shall resume its place as a great nation.

It is for this reason that our people are determined themselves to define their own policy without pressure from any outside source.


And alongside our armed struggle went our mass activity. In the factories the workers organised strikes. A day's strike was so many hours lost for the German war machine. Despite the dangers, despite the risks, despite the shadow of death which fell on them, the French factory workers ingeniously sabotaged their machines and their work.

The women of France also played their part in the struggle by organising demonstrations for their demands, by demonstrating for better rations, and it was this struggle of our people, of the whole of our Paris population, that brought about the conditions which made it possible to call the victorious Paris uprising.

However, it must be realised that all these actions carried out in conditions of the most terrible illegality were not easy. In the Party leadership down to the groups of three, which, as the basic organs of the Party, carried out the Party directives, distributed leaflets and organised the struggle in the Resistance movements, and in the Trade Unions, it was necessary to have a strong, central organisation, a closely knit network of liaison agents, illegal printing presses (on which 2 million pamphlets and leaflets were printed monthly), runners, and houses to use as " hide-outs."


I should like to describe to you the appointments at street corners in the suburbs, the moments of suspense and anguish when your comrade did not arrive because he must have fallen into the hands of the police. How describe those suspicious individuals who turned round as you passed and followed you, and the police agents you tried to shake off? And at home, in one's secret room, every unfamiliar noise aroused suspicion.

Suddenly at 5 o'clock in the morning, while you were fast asleep, heavy steps would be heard and loud bangs on the door. Then you had to flee, to attempt to get away whilst firing on the traitorous police, or else to escape through the window.

Every day the life of a militant was an adventure, an adventure which brought so many of us to their deaths. But for every fighter who fell in the struggle, a new fighter came forward, full of courage and determination to carry on the fight. This was possible because we love our Party, because we were full of confidence in our leaders.

The landing of June 6, 1944, so long and so impatiently awaited, found France prepared and ready for the final and decisive struggle. Our four years' fight had created favourable conditions for the insurrection.

In the course of July more than 17 big demonstrations were held in Paris factories for immediate demands and here and there resulted in strike action. On July 27, at 11 o clock, the railwaymen of the Bourget and of Drancy stopped work and demonstrated till midday.

July 14 1944, was a great day for the French Resistance Movement. In every part of Paris and its surrounding suburbs, thousands of Frenchmen of all opinions, expressed their determination to struggle for speedy victory.


Then the Paris uprising commenced. Cherbourg had just fallen The front was broken. The Allied troops were advancing in Brittany, which they isolated, and then turned towards Pans On August 10 the railwavmen's strike started at Villeneuve and spread to the other stations of the Southern network, and then to the whole railway system.

The strike had been called for immediate demands,' but rapidly took on an insurrectionary character. On August 14 the General Strike shook Paris. Most

of the factories were brought-to a standstill because of the lack of electric power. Those that were still working stopped one after another at the summons of the leadership of the illegal C.G.T. On the evening of the 18th, the strike was complete throughout the Paris Region. Meantime, on August 10, the National Military Committee of the F.T.P.F. issued its Order No. 3, which declared:—

“The armoured columns of the triumphant Allied armies are throwing back on Paris the disorganised remainder of the defeated enemy divisions whom they have forced to flee. Nothing can save the army of the Hitlerite bandits which the Red Army has crushed and is holding in a mortal stranglehold. Paris must not become a bulwark for the enemy between the Allied army and the Nazi army.

" Now is the decisive hour of battle.

" Francs-Tireurs and Partisans of the Paris Region, make the slogan of General de Gaulle, " Everything for the struggle," the battle-cry of Paris in arms. Forward to the National Insurrection!"

On August 18 the elected Communist representatives of the Paris Region, in a manifesto posted on the walls of the capital and suburbs, called on the people of Paris to rise to regain their freedom. The Paris Committee of Liberation, grouping within it all the Resistance organisations, also issued a call to insur-

rection against the Boche. And then followed the heroic epic of eight days of struggle, during which the enemy was tracked down and harassed in the various districts of Paris. The fighters of the French Forces of the Interior killed the Boches to prevent them from fleeing. The uprising, was directed by our comrade

Col. Roy Tanguy, a young colonel of 32.


The Boches went mad. Their only wish was to get away after massacring, looting and destroying. They carried out negotiations with men whom history will record as traitors. They concluded an armistice, but our Party, ever vigilant and 'the

guardian of the interests and honour of France, denounced this betrayal and appealed for the continuation of the struggle and insurgent Paris answered the call of the Party. Instead of the armistice which the Germans requested, the struggle grew more bitter.

Our Humanite launched the slogan "All Paris to the barricades." "Each one pick his own German." "Parisians arise and fight." It was a moving and wonderful sight to see at every crossroad, at every street corner, men and women, young and old, .girls and children, build barricades, rent up streets, bring up everything available and which could be used to erect and reinforce the barricades they had constructed—their own barricades.

For the Hitlerites the end of the battle had come. Tracked down, pursued, trapped in the streets of our capital, the Germans were forced to capitulate. It is impossible for me to describe to you the innumerable acts of courage of the glorious fighters of the people of Paris. Heroism struck you at each step. It

was .necessary to wipe out an island of resistance, to destroy a tank which was still firing, to capture a Kommandatur, to force the surrender of German troops, isolated but still holding out in this or that house.


In this way German blood was freely spilled on the cobbles of Paris. The 75,000 Parisians who had been shot were avenged and Paris, free at last and wild with enthusiasm, welcomed the army of Leclerc in a Paris in which the only Germans which remained were either dead men or prisoners.

Such was the struggle of the Parisians during the years of German occupation. Our Party is proud of having been in the vanguard of the movement for liberation. Our underground activity was carried on under immense difficulties but despite

police terror, despite the Gestapo, the Vichy, police, the Special Brigades, our organisation at all times remained strong and powerful.


And now today our country is nearly completely liberated. Our Party has now resumed its legal activity. Tens of thousands of workers have joined our ranks, but the military situation remains serious. There are still Germans at Dunkirk, Lorient, St. Nazaire, La Rochelle, Pointe de Graves; Strasbourg is still threatened by Hitlerite troops. We want to end the war, to end it victoriously, to end it speedily. To do that we want to build up a powerful army, not an army of this or that General, but a united army, the army of France. To build this great National Army, the Communists of our country are determined to work with boundless energy. Everywhere we call upon the youth to organise and join in military training centres in which they can learn to become soldiers.

We also want this army to be an army linked to the people, a democratic army, and we therefore appeal to the whole population to become patrons of these fighters. Every soldier must feel himself surrounded with the affection and the solicitude of the whole nation.

For this army we want to provide arms, munitions and equipment. -At present our soldiers lack everything. The workers of France fervently desire to give of their utmost to produce everything necessary for our Army.


There are difficulties. The men of the Trusts, the same who from 1940 to 1944 placed the whole of our industry at the service of the Germans, now move might and main to prevent the economic reconstruction of France and to place obstacles in the way of reopening the factories. But we will outplay these

manoeuvres—standing together, workers, technicians, and patriotic employers—we will show the Trusts, which are the enemies of France, what the creative ardour and patriotic determination of the people can achieve.

Such was our struggle.

In the same way as the unity in struggle of the French people brought about the liberation of our motherland, so unity will enable us to rebuild our country.

The Liberation Committees which exist throughout the country already constitute a powerful patriotic united front

Several Resistance organisations have now decided to amalgamate and are moving towards the establishment of a vast united-front for the re-birth of the French nation.


Finally, a Joint Committee of our Communist Party and the Socialist Party has been formed, and we have the fervent desire that this unity of action, which is so enthusiastically welcomed by the members of our two parties, shall lead to the establishment of a great United Party of the People of France.

Such are our present tasks. They are immense, but we will fulfill them. For us French, as for you British comrades, one urgent, imperative job lies ahead, to defeat Fascism.

All our efforts must be to this end. The Communists of our two countries are the best placed to fulfill this task.

Forward to crush the enemy! Long live the Allies! Long live England! Long live France! Long live the glorious Soviet Union, which has earned the undying gratitude of all civilized peoples!

Maurice Thorez, Communist General Secretary Radio Moscow,August 24, 1944

Honor to the Representatives of Greater Paris who died for France

You didn’t die in vain, glorious martyrs of the French cause, representatives of Greater Paris, imprisoned by the Munichois and the Vichyssois and assassinated by the Hitlerite bandits. In these days of victory, your names are in all hearts, on all lips: Charles Michels, deputy of Paris; Gabriel Péri, deputy of Argenteuil; Carriou, Frot, Gardette, Le Gall, Losserand, munipal councillors of Paris; Pierre Sémard, Auffray, Grandel, General Councillors of the Seine.

You didn’t die in vain, my brave companions: Catelas, Cadras, Rebière, Sampaix, Lampe, Timbault, Granet, Mourre, Dalidet, Pierre Rigault, Guinsburg, Delaune, Moulie, Politzer, Solomon, Decour, Pitard, Gasteur, and a thousand, ten thousand valorous militants, ferocious patriots, organizers and animators of the fight for the liberation of Paris and of France.

You didn’t die in vain, young students, assassinated by the Germans near the Tomb of the your elder, the Unknown Soldier, the evening of November 11,1940. And all of you, men and women, Frenchmen and -women of all parties and all beliefs who shed your blood for the fatherland during those four years of foreign occupation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Daily Worker

The Daily Worker (now Morning Star) first edition was printed on January 1st 1930 and the papers head office was at 41 Tabernacle Street, London

Today, The Morning Star i
the only English daily Socialist paper in the world was sold for many years on the Station Bridge, Hayes (daily) and later outside Sainsburys in Hayes town centre on a Saturday. The Daily Worker was also sold outside and inside many of the engineering factories.

At Fairey for example, copies would be placed on the bench of a supporter and workers would come along throughout the day to purchase a copy.

In Uxbridge the Daily Worker (Morning Star) was sold outside Uxbridge underground

Given the newspaper distribution companies refused to carry the Daily Worker. Supporter were forced to build an incredible and elaborate network to get the paper to supporter for the morning. This often required early starts to meet allotted trains and long bicycle rides to deliver to households and factories.

The Sunday Worker was started in 1925

Two Saily Worker staff members were killed during the Spanish Civil War, Ralph Fox and Walter "Tappy" Tapsell

Friday, October 19, 2007

Communist Party Memorandum

An eminent legal gentleman recently declared that " the wages structure in the engineering industry is nothing short of crazy." If that is the reaction of an able lawyer, then how much worry and frustration must be caused amongst the thousands of men and women, boys and girls, engaged in the industry, who are quite' unable to work out how much is really due to them..

In-fact the structure of wages payment throughout the whole of the engineering industry is extremely complicated.
Ever since the introduction of "war bonuses" during the 1914-18 war, it has become more involved and confusing. From District to National Agreements Wages in engineering have grown up on a district scale. Prior to, 1914, and indeed until 1919, wages, hours and conditions varied from district to district.

Although engineers were paid by the hour, the number of hours worked each week a different factories even within, a district varied so much that the amount of wages per week was the determining factor.
The usual working week in those days was 54 hours, but man factories worked less than 54 hours - Nevertheless the weekly wage, the district rate, was not reduced as a consequence.

This weekly wage was divided by the number of hours per-week for the purpose of arriving at the rate per hour, so that lost time and overtime payments could be calculated. Premium payments for overtime, nightshift, Sundays and holidays also varied district by district. Even so the worker knew where he stood. IIf
he obtained employment where the District rate was 38/- and the working week 54 hours, he knew that he would receive 38/- for 54 hours' work, and that his hourly rate on which lost time or overtime would be calculated was 38/- divided by 54. During the 1914-18 war period district' rates were slightly improved. War increases were applied nationally. '

They took the form of a war bonus that was added to the district rate.
These war bonuses, while being separate from the district rate, were taken into account for the purpose of overtime payments, but not for piece rates- Thus the formula " basic rate, plus national bonus" was first introduced. By this method the employers did not advance any more to pieceworkers than employers did not advance any more to pieceworkers than to timeworkers. So the employers arranged to peg down piecework prices to the basic district rate.

This principle still applies.
Piecework prices and all systems of payment by results are related to the basic rates, as for example the national agreement providing that systems of payment by results should be priced so that the workman of average ability should be able to earn a minimum of 27 and a half per cent over the base rate. At that time there were very few national agreements, such as demarcation, trial trips for ships, etc. There were not even national agreements for particular employers or industries covering payments by results, overtime payments, holidays with pay, shift rates. There were not even national agreements with particular employers or industries, such as Imperial Chemical Industries, Flour Millers, and so on.

The only really general national agreement was the " Procedure for the Avoidance of Disputes" (York Memo) and this did not apply to all the Engineering unions.
The point to be clearly understood is that up to 1918 the fundamental basis of wages and working conditions was the district agreement- Immediately after the end of the last war a national agreement was reached, on November 19, 1918, establishing a National 47-hour working week without reducing the weekly time rates

An important provision in this agreement was that all the Unions would become parties to the " Procedure for the Avoidance of Disputes." Thereby two important issues became the subject of national agreements. In that post-war period right up to the lock-out of 1922, all districts entered into agreements with the parallel Local Associations of Employers establishing minimum district base rates for skilled workers. In most cases these marked a slight advance on the pre-war and wartime basic rates. After the slashing attacks made on wages by the employers during 1921 and before and after the lock-out of 1922, district rates ranged from 41/- to 51/- a week of 47 hours.

To this was added 10/- war bonus, title—national bonus). It is generally agreed and accepted that at this particular time the average rate for skilled engineers throughout Great Britain was 46/- plus 10/- war bonus.
As regards unskilled workers, some districts had reached agreements with local employers on district rates for the un-skilled, but this was not general. Of course, the national war bonus of 10/- was paid. On a rough calculation, the difference between the skilled man's basic rate and that of a labourer was approximately 17/- per week, so the national average rate for labourers would be 29/- for a 47-hour week, plus 10/- of bonus. Unskilled rates were shockingly low.

Before 1914 unskilled men were often paid as little as 16/- for a week of 54 hours.
During the war of 1914 -18, certain districts were able to improve their district rates by odd shillings, slowly and painfully trying to establish some degree of uniformity with adjoining or similar districts. The progress made by the unskilled was as slow and difficult as that of the skilled men during those years. The highest level was reached in London, where the rate was 8id. an hour, or 33/4 for a week of 47 hours.

At the same time districts were endeavoring to secure differentials for certain classes of skilled men such as toolmakers, patternmakers, millwrights, etc. The variations throughout the country in these differentials were even more pronounced than in the case of their basic rates. There are certain districts where there is still no toolmakers' differential.
The " Semi-Skilled" There are only two recognised district rates, the skilled and the unskilled, even today, despite rapid technical changes and the variation in degrees of skill, responsibility and effort implied in differentials and lieu rates-

What of the semi-skilled, that is to say male workers over the age of 21 years, engaged upon work which the employers refuse to recognise as skilled work, and which, by the same token, workers will not allow to be classed as unskilled ?
The semi-skilled have always been and still are paid at rates related to the labourers' rate. Notwithstanding their specialised skill, their high productivity, and the fact that they usually displace craftsmen, the rates of such workers are related to the unskilled rates according to what the employers define as the "three-fold criterion," that is, the type of machine, the nature of the skill required on the job, and the skill, ability or dexterity of the operator on the machine.

With this " criterion " there is not only a wide disparity between district and district and between factory and factory within a district, but also between shops in a factory, and between individuals inside one shop.'
In certain districts -there exists what is commonly termed the " machinists' rate " for work such as milling, planing, slotting, shaping, etc. To qualify for this " machinists' rate " a worker serves an apprenticeship not quite as long as that of a skilled fitter, turner, boilermaker, patternmaker, blacksmith, etc., and then receives a rate lower than the craftsman.

The Wages Structure Today (1945)
The position, of the adult male worker today may be summarised as follows:—
1. Skilled fitters, turners, blacksmiths, etc., having served a five apprenticeship, are paid district 'rates, varying from district to district, plus national bonus.

2. Some, but not all, toolmakers receive additional differentials, varying up to a maximum in certain districts of 10/- a week.

3. There is a national agreement for a minimum differential of 8/- a week for certain classes of skilled men engaged as setters, maintenance men, inspectors, and markers-off.
This agreement in itself is full of " provisos" and in essence is a peculiar and particular form of lieu rate-
4. Labourers' are paid at the unskilled district rate, varying in amount throughout the country, plus the uniform national

5. is a large and growing proportion of workers designated-as neither skilled nor unskilled falling in the category of semi-skilled workers.

Today, the national average basic rate for skilled timeworkers is 66/- for a 47-hour week. The national bonus is 25/6. For skilled workers engaged upon systems of payment by results, the basic rate averages 66/- and the national bonus is 17/6.

Women's Wages
Only recently have women's basic wages become the subject of trade union negotiation.

Formerly women's wages were based on what is termed the "Women's Schedule"; this meant that the employers' organisation fixed a national minimum rate and all the individual employers applied it.
The unions, however, negotiated war increases which were all added to the national, bonus and eventually a comprehensive agreement was reached by arbitration and negotiation. This agreement admirably demonstrates the complicated character of wage rates in the engineering industry, On the whole it marked a big step forward in women's wages, but plainly reveals the. snags and difficulties encountered every-where in the present structure. In practice problems of definition arise quite sharply.

For instance when is a women a time-worker and when is she a piece-worker? Is she in receipt of a merit rate or a merit rate commonly applied? Is she entitled to demand a price which will enable her to earn 27and a half per cent over the base rate of 37/- (Clause 2) notwithstanding the fact that her piecework price is based on 25/- (Clause I)? In addition to these problems of definition the individual has still to calculate overtime at time and a third, or time and a half, on the inclusive timeworkers' rate, of 56/- if she is timeworking, and on the basis of 51/- if she" is a pieceworker, and pro rata if she does periods of pieceworking and timeworking during
one week.

Thus for both men and women the engineering wages structure is now immensely involved, illogical and complicated.


In 1986 the fascist British National Party (BNP) attempted to organise in Hillingdon, no doubt buoyed by comments made by Terry Dicks MP for Hayes.

The BNP elements grouped around Stuart Millson, a recent member of Essex University Federation of Conservative Student , who claimed to be the local BNP parliamentary candidate (he never actually stood). Millson set about trying to inflame the local population, ending with his chilling claim in a letter to the local Informer newspaper (19th February 1987) that "hysterical proponents of the six million myth" in a reference to the holocaust.

A BNP day of action planned for Uxbridge on 11th October 1986 was announced in the local newspapers, but with three days notice anti fascists mobilised over 250 to meet the challenge, under the traditional ant-fascist slogan of "No pasaran - They Shall not Pass". The Anti Fascist group included a large number of Labour Party Councillors, Labour Party members, trade unionists, Brunel Students, Christians and West London Anti Fascist Action (AFA).

With anti-fascists stationed at the Uxbridge underground ticket booths few fascists chose to leave the platform. Millson himself stated they were met by "an enormous number of red trouble makers" He was soon caught and only because AFA members were not 100% sure if in infact it was Millson was he saved from from, as one AFA member described it "a real good reeducation" and later by Quakers who urged caution, and instead he was told in no uncertain terms to get out of town, which he did via the nearest routemaster bus, but without a bag of fascist literature

Not for the first time there were those, especially amongst the Conservative party (with a few exception, Cllr Kester for one) who condemned the anti fascist mobilisation. However, the local papers and people knew that by supplying an overwhelming force in "taking the streets" Hillingdon had once again defeated fascism. the local paper headline proclaimed " BNP action flopped because of large turnout of anti fascist"
If anyone had any doubts about Millsons fascist credentials, they only needed to read his later quotes in The Guardian stating "I would describe myself as a fascist. My main aim at university has been to drum up as much support as possible for racialism ." (Guardian, July 5, 1986 and repeated again on February 5, 1997). Unsurprisingly he subsequently rejoined the Conservative Party.

The Labour Group of Councillors were undoubtedly a key factor in the speedy mobilisation, and one Labour Councillor had actually taken part in the Battle of Cable Street on October 4th, 1936

By Sheila Fearty


The Battle of Ridley Road
Challenge September 13th 1947- By Mick Noble - Recently de-mobbed from the forces


Thousands of East London house-wives fill this famous market, buying
wares and collecting the Sunday dinner. The cries of the ' coster-mongers mingle with the gossip of the women and the yells of the children. Ridley Road—Sunday. The shops are closed. Gone are the stalls and barrows. But people are still there, people who hate fascism. People who once believed that Fascism had died with Hitler. Sunay, August 31, 1947, was a historical day for London's Youth.

The London Young Communist League (YCL) with the Hackney Branch in the lead, held the ground at Ridley Road for nine hours against fascist provocation.
Forced to start the meeting at 4 p.m. (it was scheduled to start at 7 p.m.) the Y.C.L. put speaker after speaker on the platform. Youth from all walks of life denounced with great human feeling the increase in fascist activities in London.

Eighteen year old Betty Moss, of the Hackney Y.C.L., one of the earlier speakers, said:
“The Housewives' League and the Tory Press may criticise the miners, but you will not find any of the rich class down the pits. Give London's Youth a chance and they will help to save Britain." Pete Richards, of St. Pancras Y.C.L., who sailed to France on D-Day, and was later wounded, made an impassioned appeal to a packed audience of 4,000: " Youth has a future if Fascism and Capitalism are destroyed in Britain," said Pete as thousands cheered

DOWN WITH FASCISM! At that moment the fascists, masquerading under the name of the" British League of Ex-Servicemen," were holding a meeting not far away from the youths' platform. A flood of abuse against the Jewish people was let loose. The crowd's hostility increased. Suddenly from all directions police swooped down upon the fascist meeting and it was promptly closed down. Police, on foot and in motor vehicles, then rushed to the Y.C.L. meeting. John Goss, Secretary of the London Y.C.L., mounted the platform to the cheers of the crowd. As he spoke, hundreds of little Hitlers, including German P.O.W., began to march upon the Y.C.L. meeting.

As they drew near, they began chanting: "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? — M-O-S-L-E-Y! " and sang the " Horst Wessel," the song composed in a German brothel, as they converged on the meeting.
But they were thrown back by the solidness of the crowd, who were keenly interested in the constructive policy which Johnny Goss was putting forward for solving Britain's economic crisis. " The fascists say you don't find Jews in the coal mines," said Johnny, " and yet the only London lads working down the same pit as myself during the 'war were Jews. But you won't find fascists down the mines. No honest-to-goodness miner would work beside them."

The chairman, appealing for a collection, said: "The Tories and fascists ridicule our appeals for money, but we are proud to receive the pennies and shillings from the working class, for this indicates that we voice the needs of the people. Give your answer to the fascists! " Twenty-eight pounds four shillings was collected.

The fascists on the, opposite side of the road, angered by their failure to break up the meeting, made a final assault. They" rushed the meeting, throwing bottles and fireworks, but were once again decisively routed. The people stood steady and calm.
The police were compelled to arrest a few fascists. In past weeks it has only been anti-fascists and ex-Servicemen who have been manhandled and arrested by the police. The police have indicated in the past their sympathy for the fascists.

This changed attitude may be an expression of public agitation and discontent with the
actions of the police. The meeting came to an end as the crowd, thousands strong, sang the "Internationale" with great gusto. The fascists, who had earlier been singing the Nazi " Horst Wessel" insolently started singing the National Anthem. Before the crowds dispersed, 4,000 anti-fascists raised their voices in three tumultuous cheers, for the unity of the Labour movement, for a future for British Youth and the destruction of Fascism in Britain.

London's youth won a great victory on Sunday, August 31, But the last " Battle of Ridley Road" has yet to be won.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007



Traveling down to Henley on a train full of Hooray Henrys prattling on about skiing in Switzerland and Lady Camilla's coining out ball.

How I managed to keep my gob shut and my hands from strangling the bastards is the 8th wonder of the world!.

This year there's a new topic of conversation though-the anarchists! Hooray Henriettas are assured by the Hooray Henrys that they'll be over a thousand police, some of them armed, there to protect them. They (but not me!) are reassured by the sight of a police helicopter and a hundred fat porkers sweltering in the sun in a school field just outside Henley.

At Ealing Broadway 20 kids many of them black, dive on to the train jeering the rich snobs and shoving them out the way. The considerable anxiety in the next carriage is further increased by the arrival of 10 casuals from Southall, well armed with special brew and seemingly not going to Henley to watch the rowing.

Arrive at Henley station, F####' hell there’s old bill everywhere! With our crafty disguises we slip through the police cordon but anyone not looking like an obvious rich bastard is turned back.

The black kids don't make it off the platform, on every street corner there’s a van load of pigs by the bridge to the royal enclosure there’s a control van, breakdown vehicle to remove any motors blocking the bridge, and van loads of back up police.

Police on the bridge are filtering people across stopping anyone they don't like the look of.

By now we've clocked a lot of class warriors from around the country blending in to the background-or at least trying to ! Some Welsh hooligans have spent the night on posh boats on the Thames and have a few souvenirs to take home. We dive into the nearest boozer-all the pubs have security on the doors to keep out potential trouble makers, but we manage to sneak through. More news comes through-there's riot police at the back of the police station and van load after van of pigs.

After a few pints its back onto the streets, a lot of punks have somehow got through. Let battle commence-we start harassing the stuck up toffs on the streets. Stand in their way, trip them up, spit on them, abuse them, open well shook up cans of larger as they pass by in their hundreds of pounds dresses. Knock their boaters off, smash their sunglasses, kick the bastards.

They start to look really scared – despite the fact that there’s a thousand police on duty they still can’t be protected. Others are walking along the river bank kicking hampers and champagne buckets there’s no resistance, they look petrified.

Gradually a sizable mob is assembling near the bridge-about 200 of us. We give up the low profile and stand hurling abuse, spit and the odd can and bottle the rich. the Hoorays stop coming down the road. The police seal off the bridge, more pigs come running down the road, we're surrounded. We keep up the abuse for about 15 minutes.

The police are getting fed up as we get into the second rendition of 'Harry Roberts is our friend", very soon they're going to move in and nick the lot of us. Time to move on and resume guerrilla warfare. We filter away in 2's and 3's-there is no mass arrest: Back to the guerrilla harassment of the bastards. We maraud all over the town. A BMW is turned over, the tory club window goes in, fists fly and some hoorays decide to sunbathe fully clothed on the streets. Bricks and bottles fly over the back lanes into the gardens of rich mansions and startled sunbathers flee inside.

Now a Mercedes has gone over, all it's windows caving in, posh cars are booted as their drivers try to speed past us down the road, pig vans are racing around trying to keep up with the action, there are some arrests. This goes on for a couple of hours till we gradually leave Henley. A trainload of Hoorays are plastered with their own strawberries as they leave, soaked in beer and anything else that comes to hand, their boaters and sunglasses end up on the tracks. They wish they'd never boarded this train to leave Henley but many rich bastards after Saturday wish they'd never gone there in the first place.

So what did Henley achieve For the first time ever the rich have had to have over a thousand police with helicopters, riot shields and armed units to protect them at one of their major social occasions. Many businesses, including

garages and posh shops, closed down for the weekend preferring to lose their expected large profits rather than risk being smashed up. The rich now know what it's like-to be under siege conditions, to be scared s###less every time they wandered more than a few hundred yards from a policeman.

The police are there to protect the rich and their wealth from the rest of us-well, from now on they’re going to have to work a lot harder at it.

This year there were a few hundred of us at Henley but next year there’ll be thousands and the police will have to turn the place into a virtual prison for the rich to stop us getting at them.

The police are trying to make places where the rich are at their leisure, or where they live, no go areas for working class people.

At Wilmslow in Cheshire the Chief Inspector has said that black people from Moss Side will be arrested if they go there since their only reasons for being there can be to burgle the rich houses. At Henley black kids and anyone who didn't look posh enough were denied entry to the town or harassed or arrested by the police. We will continue to take our fight in to the streets of the rich ghettos. There will be no no-go areas for us but we must make sure that working class areas become no-go areas for the rich- where they fear for their safety whenever they enter. We must continue to make them live under siege conditions.

Of course our sophisticated, intellectual revolutionary friends on the left will continue to deride us. From their well paid jobs as lecturers, social workers, probation officers and teachers propping up the system the allegedly despise, they will laugh patronisingly when we talk of jostling the rich in the streets. In Hampstead and Islington these w#####s will prattle on about Nicaragua, Marxism today, yesterday and every f#### way. Cosily insulated from the rising class anger on the streets, for them politics is a trendy hobby. For us class hatred is a daily reality and -one these w####s will find out about soon enough.

Henley is only part of our fight to build a working class movement designed to-get rid of the rich and the police and politicians who protect them once and for all

We made mistakes at Henley, there were 43 arrests, we must improve our organisation and increase our combativity every time. In September (21st 1985) we are organising another Bash the Rich march to Britain’s richest borough.

Hampstead. We can make this the biggest demonstration of class hatred and anger we've had for years. If we organise to get the homeless, those pissed off with being f##### over by the DHSS by the new bed and breakfast regulations and all working class people, employed or unemployed to come along we can get thousands of us to march into Hampstead. We have no demands to make the rich, there are no reforms or concessions they can make to stop us. In September class war will rage in the leafy avenues of Hampstead.

Make sure you’re there!


Class War Henley Regatta 6th July 1985

From August 1985 Class War


The Class war action at Henley Regatta on July 6th, 1985 marked a high water mark for the avowed Anarchist organisation, The event unquestionably brought into stark focus the excesses of Thatchersim.

Thus, the event was generally well received on the Left, However, as the article states " our sophisticated, intellectual revolutionary friends on the left will continue to deride us". I have to state personally that violence against individuals, even Toffs is unacceptable (but maybe in defeating fascism). Oh and yes I blanked out the swear words in an unprovoked act of big brother censorship

Yet in the days
of Cameron's new Tory Etonians and his Bullingdon Club mates it's good to remember its still Class War out there

And if you did have any sympathy for the Royal Henley Regatta, you should recall that up until 1937 the rules of the Henley Regatta explicitly excluded working men from participating, with a rule that stated, those "Who have been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer".


Frank Bright
Frank Bright from Bideford, North Devon, born 20 February 1891, was an outstanding local athlete, rowing for Bideford Amateur Athletic Club, known as the `Blues”.

Bright went to Ynyshire in South Wales in 1911 to work in the Standard Pit. A member of the South Wales Miners’ Federation for 16 years, he became an active member of the Miners Unofficial Reform Movement and later a leading light of the Rhondda Communist Party.

During the run up to the General Strike, he stated that "far more important than the fight for wages is the struggle for power"; he was imprisoned during the course of that momentous year, one of several periods of imprisonment arising from his political activities.

In 1927, Bright became Manchester Communist Party organiser in and, in August 1930, went to the Lenin School in Moscow, becoming a member of the Moscow Soviet, later still Liverpool/Lancashire CP organiser helping International Brigadiers get to Spain to aid the republican cause.

He suffered from poor health caused by pneumoconiosis and returned to Bideford, Devon and, from 1942-1943, was the Party’s Organiser for Devon and Cornwall.
Died15th November 1944