A declaration of the Communist Party of France, distributed in the country, reads:
The French people are experiencing tragic days. Tremendous calamities, which the Communist Party sought to avert, have befallen them, A foreign army has burst into France. The French imperialists, having unleashed the war, having brought the people to catastrophe, and having brought millions of workers and peasants to their doom on the fields of battle, are preparing to capitulate, behind the backs of the people. France is faced with the danger of disappearing as a nation, as an independent state.
We see before us the bankruptcy of the French bourgeoisie, its regime, its corrupt politicians, its incompetent generals. It is utter bankruptcy. It is the bankruptcy of the imperialist policy of the French bourgeoisie which provided food for the chauvinistic revenge propaganda of German reaction and facilitated its advent to power.
It is the bankruptcy of the Lavals, Flandins, Daladiers, Bonnets and Blums who, against the interests of the French people, and to the detriment of the cause of peace, gave all possible support to the machinations of world reaction. It was the Lavals, who signed the Rome Agreements, which gave Italy a free hand to conquer Ethiopia and prepared the present onslaught of Italian fascism on France. It was the Flandins who strengthened German imperialism, by allowing it to remilitarize the left bank of the Rhine. It was Blums who, by their criminal policy of so-called non-intervention, brought danger to the Pyrenean frontiers and cleared the way for the conquerors. It was Daladier and his Ministers who handed over to Germany, together with Czechoslovakia, the armaments of its forty divisions, including 1,600 airplanes and 500 tanks, which are now being used to slaughter French soldiers. It was creatures of the stock exchange, such as Bonnet, who systematically sabotaged the Franco- Soviet Mutual Assistance Pact. All these scoundrels are directly and immediately responsible for the imperialist war. It was they who hurled our people into this criminal carnage.
It is the bankruptcy of the Radical and Socialist politicians, the reactionary top leaders of the General Confederation of Labor, who betrayed the working people, smashed the People’s Front, which hindered the outbreak of the imperialist war, betrayed the program of the People’s Front, let loose the forces of reaction and caused the present war.
It is the bankruptcy of the Socialist Party and its vile leaders, who stand forth as the ringleaders of the imperialist war, and who did everything possible to confuse the workers and bring to nothing their struggle for the cause of peace which corresponds to the interests of the people. They it is who, by their foul slander of the Soviet people, its socialist regime and its workers’ and peasants’ government, did more than anybody else—despite the feelings of the French people—to bring about the alienation of our country from the Soviet Union, and facilitated the isolation of France.
Would France have fallen into its present tragic position if the French Government had pursued a loyal and honest policy towards the great Soviet people, if it had accepted the Soviet proposals, which were aimed at the maintenance of peace and the organization of collective security, instead of systematically rejecting them?
It is the bankruptcy of the incompetent generals with their out-of-date ideas about war, who ignored the achievements of modern military technique, the possibilities provided by it and the inevitable changes in the conduct of military operations. It is the bankruptcy of the General Staff which obstinately sought to prove, despite common sense, that the present war would only be a positional one. With Daladier, who for eight years was Minister of War, directly responsible, the General Staff threw away billions of francs on the construction of the Maginot Line, thereby dooming France to passive defense. It ignored the significance of the two most important types of arms of modern war, war of maneuver, namely, the tank and the airplane.
The French bourgeoisie and their General Staff had eight months, quite long enough, in which to make up for lost time and to organize the real defense of the country. But they were neither able nor willing to use this time to speed up the production of tanks and aircraft. They did not even build fortifications. They did not extend the Maginot Line to Dunkirk, although it was easy to foresee that the German offensive would be undertaken via Holland and Belgium. During these eight months the French bourgeoisie did not undertake a single military operation against Germany on whom it had declared war. It had its hands full in organizing an insidious blow against the Soviet Union, which was not at war with France. With this end in view it incited and armed the Finnish White- Guards, and dispatched an expeditionary corps to Syria, in preparation for an attack on Baku and the Soviet Black Sea Coast.
During these eight months the imperialist bourgeoisie of France, their ' actions governed by their narrow class interests, did not concern itself at all with the defense of France itself, and the organization of the protection of the northern frontiers of France and Paris. All it thought about was how best to maintain and consolidate its domination over the colonies. During these eight months the bourgeoisie waged war not against the German army, but against the working class of its own country, throwing thousands of advanced workers, thousands of the best sons of the people into jails and concentration camps. It disorganized war production by driving the most highly skilled workers out of the munitions plants for the mere fact that they were Communists or Communist Party sympathizers The bourgeoisie subjected the most steadfast and honest defenders of the people to fierce persecution, while it handed out the highest posts in the army and in the state machine to those agents of German imperialism, the Cagoulards. The bourgeoisie, by pursuing its line of suppressing and wiping out the most active section of the nation, the Communists, the foremost fighters among the working people, undermined the morale of the people and the army, weakened the defense of France, and doomed it to military defeats. While Germany made systematic and painstaking preparations for its big offensive, Daladier and Blum were occupied in hunting down the Communists, and were secretly working to hand over the workers of Northern France and Paris, the most revolutionary, the most advanced and most militant section of the working class, to be overrun and plundered by foreign military forces.
In order to save France from catastrophe, it would be necessary urgently to adopt extremely bold, heroic measures of a political, social’ economic, military and organizational character, measures which would mobilize all the wealth, all the resources and all the means of the country for the defense of the people, measures that would let loose the initiative of the masses of the people. It would be necessary, first of all, to put a stop to the policy of repression against the masses of the people, the policy of hunting down the Communists, and to restore democratic rights and liberties.
At the same time it would be necessary immediately to remove the Cagoulards from responsible posts, to deal ruthlessly with traitors, saboteurs, speculators and all fifth column” hirelings.
However, the bourgeoisie and the government continue to pursue measures of an opposite character. Our people are today paying for the crimes of their capitalist masters for the treachery of their bourgeois and “Socialist” rulers, are paying with their suffering and their blood. With them, shedding their blood, are over a million Communists and Communist sympathizers at present in the army.
And we Communists say to the people:
The bourgeoisie has brought our country to the brink of destruction. Today, when German imperialism is putting into practice its plan of enslaving France, all that the French bourgeoisie is concerned with is to save its privileges, its capital, its class domination. It is ready to sacrifice the independence of our country, to sacrifice the vital interests of our people. It is ready to come to terms with the conqueror, to use German bayonets behind which to seek shelter from the reckoning which the indignant people are preparing for it. The bourgeoisie and heir “Socialists” are a real curse to the people. Their regime is one of organized treachery towards our nation.
We Communists of France have always fought against capitalist exploitation, against political oppression by the bourgeoisie, against the exploitation and oppression of the colonial peoples. We have always fought against the robber imperialist policy of the French bourgeoisie towards other peoples, and particularly towards the German people. With all the greater right, justification and strength will we fight against the enslavement of our people by foreign imperialists. The working class, the people of France will never be reconciled to foreign enslavement.
As ever, under all conditions, so in the present days of severe trials, horror and boundless calamities, we Communists have been and remain with our people. Their fate is our fate. We profoundly believe in the strength and the future of our people, in the future of France. Our people will not perish. Their will and their freedom-loving spirit are not to be shattered by the dark forces of traitors, exploiters, plunderers and conquerors!
June, 1940.Click here to return to Comintern Index