Maurice Thorez 1940

Telegram on Party Work After the French Defeat

Source: Moscou, Paris, Berlin; edited by Bernhard H. Bayerlein, Mikail Narinski, Brigitte Studer, Serge Wolikow. Editions Tallandier, Paris, 2003;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2004.

On June 17, 1940 Marshall Pétain called for the French army to lay down its arms, and on June 22 an armistice between Germany and France was signed. The day of the armistice Georgi Dimitrov and Thorez sent the following telegram from Moscow giving directions for Party work in the first days of the occupation.

Date: 6/22/40

Clement[1] Jack[2]:

Military disasters sustained and occupation France provoke unlimited mass suffering and indignation. Bourgeois and Socialist bankruptcy are total. Indispensable explain to people this bankruptcy, unmask treason bourgeoisie, its parties, its politicians, its socialists, unmask their responsibilities for war, military disasters, occupation France, in order destroy in people last remnants confidence in them.

Indispensable explain and demonstrate by the facts that only working class guided by Communist Party is capable realize unity of the nation in powerful front defense (of) its vital interests and of struggle against foreign yoke for a France independent and truly free.

Necessary assure rallying people’s forces under different forms assistance committees, provisioning, practical aide to masses, unemployed, refugees, wounded, demobilized.

Thwarting provocations and avoiding premature actions nevertheless indispensable, support and organize resistance masses against measures, violence, despoiling, arbitrary measures against people on the part invaders. Arouse hatred Chiappe [3] and all other agents invaders.

Indispensable organize corresponding work among army of occupation and use all contact civil population with German soldiers to incite them renounce committing acts violence and make them understand that subjugation French people is against true interests German people.

Indispensable immediately reconstitute unions introducing into leadership maximum our comrades. Obtain with assistance masses liberation imprisoned Communist and union militants and reintegration Communist mayors and councillors to their posts.

Urgent necessity profit current internal chaos and collapse police apparatus for; reconstituting central and regional directions of party; counting number of cadres, reestablishing links with dispersed militants, rapidly carry out new distribution of cadres and taking care of most important centers. Use every favorable possibility to put out union and local papers, eventually L'Humanité, ensuring that these papers keep line defense social and national interests people and don’t give any impression solidarity with invaders or approval of them.

Indispensable do everything necessary to quickly put the party in position respond demands new situation and tasks, for today the Party is decisive factor of rallying, organization, direction French nation.

In those cases where members of Party, municipal councillors, or union or assistance committee leaders work legally or semi-legally, avoid all that could give impression solidarity with invaders.

Under all circumstances the Communists must remain with people and always march in front ranks in its fight for liberation.

Paul[4], Stern [5]


1. — Eugene Fried, Comintern’s representative to the PCF;

2. — Dave Springhall British Communist leader responsible for liaison with Moscow;

3. — Former police prefect, sympathetic to the extreme-Right. Named Vichy’s High Commissioner to Syria his plane there was shot down by the British;

4. — Georgi Dimitrov — leader of Comintern;

5. — Maurice Thorez;