Karl Marx: The Civil War in France

News Stories

June 8-12, 1871
After the defeat of the Paris Commune


“The column of prisoners halted in the Avenue Uhrich, and was drawn up, four or five deep, on the footway facing to the road. General Marquis de Gallifet and his staff dismounted and commenced an inspection from the left of the line. Walking down slowly and eyeing the ranks, the general stopped here and there, tapping a man on the shoulder or beckoning him out of the rear ranks. In most cases, without further parley, the individual thus selected was marched out into the centre of the road, where a small supplementary column was thus soon formed.... A mounted officer pointed out to General Gallifet a man and woman for some particular offence. The women, rushing out of the ranks, threw herself on her knees, and, with outstretched arms, protested her innocence in passionate terms. The general waited for a pause, and then with most impassible face and unmoved demeanor, said: ’Madame, I have visited every theatre in Paris, your acting will have no effect on me.’ (ce n’est pas la peine de jouer la comedie).... It was not a good thing on that day to be noticeably taller, dirtier, cleaner, older, uglier than one’s neighbors. One individual in particular struck me as probably owing his speedy release from the ills of this world to his having a broken nose.... Over a hundred being thus chosen, a firing party told off, and the column resumed its march, leaving them behind. A few minutes afterwards a dropping fire in our rear commenced, and continued for over a quarter of an hour. It was the execution of the summarily-convicted wretches.” (Paris Correspondent, Daily News, June 8.)

This Gallifet, “the kept man of his wife, so notorious for her shameless exhibitions at the orgies of the Second Empire,” went, during the war, by the name of the French “Ensign Pistol.”

“The Temps, which is a careful journal, and not given to sensation, tells a dreadful story of people imperfectly shot and buried before life was extinct. A great number were buried in the Square round St. Jacques-la-Bouchiere; some of them very superficially. In the daytime the roar of the busy streets prevented any notice being taken; but in the stillness of the night the inhabitants of the houses in the neighborhood were roused by distant moans, and in the morning a clenched hand was seen protruding through the soil. In consequence of this, exhumations were ordered to take place.... that many wounded have been buried alive I have not the slightest doubt. One case I can vouch for. When Brunel was shot with his mistress on the 24th ult. in the courtyard of a house in the place Vendome, the bodies lay there until the afternoon of the 27th. When the burial party came to remove the corpses, they found the woman still living, and took her to an ambulance. Though she had received four bullets she is now out of danger.” (Paris Correspondent, Evening Standard, June 8.)



The following letter appeared in the [London] Times, June 13:

“To the editor of The Times:

“Sir. – On June 6, 1871, M. Jules Favre issued a circular to all the European Powers, calling them to hunt down the International Working Men’s Association. A few remarks will suffice to characterize that document.

“In the very preamble to our statutes it is stated that the International was found “September 28, 1864, at a public meeting held at St. Martin’s Hall, Long Acre, London". For purposes of his own Jules Favre puts back the date of its origin behind 1862.

“In order to explain our principles, he professes to quote “their (the International’s) sheet of the 25th of March, 1869". And then what does he quote? The sheet of a society which is not the International. This sort of maneuvre he already recurred to when, still a comparatively young lawyer, he had to defend the National newspaper, prosecuted for libel by Cabet. Then he pretended to read extracts from Cabet’s pamphlets while reading interpolations of his own – a trick exposed while the court was sitting, and which, but for the indulgence of Cabet, would have been punished by Jules Favre’s expulsion for the Paris bar. Of all the documents quoted by him as documents of the International, not one belongs to the International.

He says, for instance,

“The Alliance declared itself Atheist, says the General Council, constituted in London in July 1869.”

“The General Council never issued such a document. On the contrary, it issued a document which quashed the original statutes of the ’Alliance’ – L’Alliance de la Démocratie Socialiste at Geneva – quoted by Jules favre.

“Throughout his circular, which pretends in part also to be directed against the Empire, Jules Favre repeats against the International but the police inventions of the public prosecutors of the Empire, which broke down miserably even before the laws courts of that Empire.

“It is known that in its two Addresses (of July and September last) on the late war, the General Council of the International denounced the Prussian plans of conquest against France. Later on, Mr. Reitlinger, Jules Favre’s private secretary, applied, though of course in vain, to some members of the General Council for getting up by the Council a demonstration against Bismarck, in favor of the Government of National Defence; they were particularly requested not to mention the republic. The preparations for a demonstration with regard to the expected arrival of Jules Favre in London were made – certainly with the best of intentions – in spite of the General Council, which, in its address of the 9th of September, had distinctly forewarned the Paris workmen against Jules Favre and his colleagues.

“What would Jules Favre say if, in its turn, the International were to send a circular on Jules Favre to all the Cabinets of Europe, drawing their particular attention to the document published at Paris by the late M. Milliere?

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
John Hales,
Secretary to the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association


June 12th, 1871

In an article on “The International Society and its aims,” that pious informer, the London Spectator (June 24th), amongst other similar tricks, quotes, even more fully than Jules Favre has done, the above document of the “Alliance” as the work of the International, and that eleven days after the refutation had been published in The Times. We do not wonder at this. Frederick the Great used to say that of all Jesuits the worst are the Protestant ones.