James P. Cannon

SWP Protests Jailing of Pierre Frank

(4 January 1941)

Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. 5 No. 1, 4 January 1941, p. 4.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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The imprisonment of Pierre Frank. French revolutionist, by the British authorities, was protested to the British Embassy in Washington this week by the Socialist Workers Party.

The text of the S.W.P. communication was as follows:

Chargé d’Affairs
British Embassy
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

We have received word from London that Pierre Frank, a well-known French revolutionist, has been sentenced by a London police tribunal to six months at hard labor.

The charge was that Pierre Frank had failed to register, as a foreigner, with the authorities. Frank, however, explained to the tribunal that he had been condemned in absentia as a revolutionist by the French government and felt that, had he registered with the British authorities in the usual way, he would have been turned over to the French government, despite the fact that he was in England as a political refugee.

Frank’s explanation appears to us as an eminently reasonable one for his failure to comply with a technical procedure required by British law. An explanation which should certainly have been accepted since he was being accused of nothing more than a mere technical violation. Instead, however, the explanation served only to harden the prejudiced tribunal against him. We are informed that the judge, upon hearing Frank’s explanation, utilized it to denounce Frank as a “subversive person.” Prejudice alone can explain the vindictive sentence of six months at hard labor for a mere technicality.

We protest this sentence and call upon the British authorities to release Pierre Frank and to accord him the democratic rights of a political refugee. Hounded out of France by the “democrats” who preferred Hitler to a resurgence of the French people, Frank now finds himself hounded by a government which claims to stand at the opposite pole to the Petain government which still seeks to imprison Frank. Elementary justice demands that this fighter for French liberty be given his liberty by the British government.


Very truly yours,
James P. Cannon
National Secretary

Last updated on 17 November 2020