Victor Serge

In a time of duplicity

The case of Doriot

February 23, 1945.

The newspapers: Jacques Doriot has just been killed in Germany. His car was strafed on the road. It was expected that he would take in hand what remained of the French Vichy government, for the purpose of the final exploitation of the French interned in Germany.

In 1922, in a small office of Rote Fahne [1] in Berlin, Julius Alpari introduced to me a young man wearing glasses, ruddy-faced, sturdy, with a firm mouth and a modest air ... I saw him again several times without attaching any importance to him. He was known as an excellent militant of the Young Communists, a good speaker and with plenty of guts. He admired the Russian Revolution, doubtlessly very sincerely, and the fact of traveling illegally, staying in good hotels and of conspiring with Bolsheviks visibly enhanced him in his own eyes.

He left me with an impression only of modesty and firmness. A young person one could have confidence in. He was liked by Zinoviev and the organizers of underground activity, Piatnitzky and Mitskevitch-Kapsukas ... He came out of the factory (metal worker). It was the time of struggles against parliamentary corruption and the old reformism. J.D. conducted anti-militarist work in the occupied Ruhr, went to prison, came out of prison a deputy, popular and cutting quite a figure as a leader of the French CP.

In 1924-25, when the first slanders were directed against Trotsky, the greatest figure of the Revolution after the death of Lenin, J.D. was angered, ready to declare himself for the “new course” which could have checked the precipitate degeneration of Bolshevism. Since the vanquished opposition gave in, J.D. adapted himself and became one of the confidential men of Zinoviev, whose star, was rising ... The militant was conquered by the apparatus, for the administrative apparatus of the International made and unmade all the leaders, offered or rejected the possibility of serving the revolution and of being at the head of a great idealistic party.

J.D. went on the Political Committee and entered the secret service. It is a path Which the most devoted militants commonly follow; the risks taken lead to the secret service, from which one cannot withdraw and which forces one to lead a demoralizing existence. J.D. had an adventurous spirit and a personality; it was not without resistance that he applied a line which he knew was absurd or motivated by interests other than those of the party or the International.

Conflicts. In February-May, ’34, following the February 6 riots [2] before the Palais Bourbon, he broke with the sectarian directives and proposed a united front to the Socialists, denounced the day before as social-fascists. Lie refused to render an accounting at Moscow, knowing that he might disappear there.

Deputy mayor of Saint-Denis, he had a fief, a section of the party tied to him by local interests and by genuine admiration. For a few months it was possible to believe that the left French working-class masses were finally going to have a capable leader who would unify them. This was the opinion of Marcel Martinet [3] – and was mine, with reservation, for I wondered what the psychology could be of a militant leader who had since 1927 swallowed all the lies of the secret service and served it faultlessly.

J.D. was in reality no longer anything but an adventurer skilled in manipulating various social forces. The career which the revolutionary left offered him he rejected, knowing well that without very considerable financial support a new movement could not be born; and a left socialist movement could not find such support. He could have gone to the SP, but it was a party of bourgeois mores, without dynamism, a party which he disdained and in which he could only vegetate; his whole makeup was based upon the anti-socialist mentality of the Comintern.

To return to the Comintern was impossible, since he had lost the confidence of the bureaucrats; they would have tolerated him only in order to force him to submit and to destroy him. Situation of an expendable mercenary.

J.D. got in touch with influential capitalists, who made him offers. That also flowed from his makeup. He had often heard it said that the victory of fascism was inevitable, that only fascism could liquidate the social-democracy, that after a short interval communism would be the successor and liquidator of fascism.

This ideological schema had been quasi-official behind the scenes in the Comintern following the defeat of the German revolution in ’23. J.D. staked all his money on the cards of a militant capitalism. He did not sell himself all at once. He maneuvered, protected refugees expelled from the CI (Ruth Fischer and Maslov) but gradually went over to a “national” politics (L’Emancipation nationale).

The unimaginable resentment which had accumulated against the Moscow leaders and their secret bureaus during the years of dissension, decadence and reaction had transformed him into an anti-communist. A socialist humanism he had never possessed; a crude and manipulated Marxism had made him cynical. The deeply ingrained notion of historic automatism, which would doom the parliamentary Third Republic and lead to a controlled economy, prepared him for his complete going over to fascism. This took place during the Spanish events; in possession of inside information, immediately seeing the republic doomed, ht denounced the Spanish Revolution as a Moscow enterprise-and demonstratively moved to the right.

The astonishing thing is that throughout this evolution he carried along with him a strong former communist group of Saint-Denis – so many of these militants were ready for the transition from communism to fascism, which seemed stronger to them, promised victory, and was more sound because of its national character. (Here note the disenchantment provoked by the disaster of Bolshevik internationalism.)

A common mentality, totalitarian, has been created, with variants capable of being interchanged and of succeeding one another. J.D. made a deal with the General Confederation of Manufacturers and probably got in touch with secret Nazi agents. The politician accustomed to secret service work returned to it and found it an advantage.

In ’40 he advanced himself as a candidate for the succession to Pétain and celebrated the holiday of Saint Jacques in the same way that the holiday of Saint Philippe (Pétain) was observed. [4] He advocated the creation of revolutionary committees (of his party, the PPF) to achieve the “national revolution.” His contempt for the bourgeoisie put him on the same footing with certain authentic Nazis. His hatred of Stalinism was that of a renegade; it was also the reversal of a completely disappointed and sullied youthful idealism.

His knowledge of the internal weaknesses of the USSR predisposed him for the role of ideologist of a war against the USSR – and he toured the Eastern fronts, encouraging French volunteers in German uniform.... He was also an uncultivated person whom the role of leader exalted and a materialist who believed only in brute force.

Killed at 47.



1. Red Banner, the CP daily newspaper In Germany.

2. Initiated by French fascists.

3. Writer, poet, revolutionary –syndicalist, early defender of Trotsky, active in securing Serge’s release from imprisonment in Russia

4. These were days actually set aside for the glorification of the two indicated persons.


Last updated on 21.3.2004