Maurice Thorez 1940

“Limit All Relations With Occupation Authorities”

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.

One of the most notorious events in PCF history was the attempt to have the occupying forces, represented by the German ambassador Otto Abetz, approve the reappearance of the Communist press. The negotiations were being carried out by two party members Maurice Tréand and Robert Foissin. In this telegram to Comintern representative in France Eugen Fried, Thorez and Dimitrov order a halt to these negotiations, and put the Party on guard against other attempts on the part of the Nazis to use the PCF.

Paris, Clement [1]

Are very worried grave dangers that threaten Party following maneuvers occupation authorities. We again insist on need increased vigilance against these maneuvers that will continue to grow as ruin, unemployment, famine, winter, continuation war discontent extension influence Party will grow.

The occupiers are aware that Party only organized honest political force, enjoying confidence masses and capable realizing rallying masses, undertaking setting country back on its feet and directing struggle for independence! By their maneuvers the occupiers aim:

1 — To use party as lever to create among population favorable opinion towards occupiers to make easier for them continuation war; push economic recovery in direction favorable to occupiers; make party responsible for calamities consequence occupation.

2 — Use growing influence Party as argument for blackmail and pressure on Vichy. The occupiers want to frighten Pétain [and] Laval by specter Communism and popular government in order extort from them new concessions at France’s expense. At same time seek to discredit Party presenting it as their collaborator.

3 — To isolate Party from masses, to provoke internal disintegration, to paralyze its activity, to discredit or demoralize cadres, to locate illegal cadres in order to decapitate party through provocations.

Pursuing these objectives Abetz [2] and his agents deploy activity, occupation authorities seek contact with Party, carry out polls, put forward project popular government, show momentary apparent liberalism towards Communists.

Would be veritable disaster if party allowed itself influenced by occupier’s maneuvers, show insufficient clear-sightedness, prudence, political firmness and allows itself by excess cleverness to be dragged [to] interviews [and] negotiations with occupation authorities.

Economic and national recovery absolutely inconceivable under condition occupation and on basis political collaboration with occupiers.

We propose following as rule of political conduct:

Categorically reject and condemn as treason any demonstration solidarity with occupiers. Avoid articles negotiations which would signified solidarity with occupiers, approval or justification their acts.

Pursue effects obtaining legal press and use of all legal possibilities. Categorically refuse legal press render service propaganda and policies [of] occupier. If impossible to safeguard independence [of] Ce Soir[3] necessary renounce its publication, orally explaining [to] masses motives such a measure.

Limit all relations with occupation authorities exclusively purely formal and administrative questions.

Explain immediately responsible party cadres meaning occupier’s maneuvers and demand all militants reinforce vigilance discipline.

Warn known parliamentarians [and] journalists of Party like Péri [4] and others energetically reject all attempts to drag them [into] negotiations or discussions with occupier’s agents. The intermediaries of such attempts must be denounced to the leadership. Attitude lawyer Foissin [5]reveals him to be agent occupiers.

Indispensable immediate rigorous measures including expulsion and public denunciation as traitors against those who are complicit with authorities, spread their influence or express solidarity. Thus acting, leadership safeguards [and] reinforces its authority and Party reinforces it influence masses. Absolutely inadmissible negotiate with occupiers, renegades, or any person who bears responsibility disasters suffered or present calamities.

We salute reassuring fact faithfulness discipline overwhelming majority cadres militants Party and confidence masses in Party. Nevertheless useful to not forget that true influence Party and solid nature links with masses are demonstrated only when, in difficult situation, the masses follow by acting [according to] the Party’s directives. From this standpoint, our Party is far from being at desired level.

We consider Jacques [6] personally responsible for unconditional carrying out these remarks and we invite all members leadership show firmness, responsibility, iron discipline and demand same of all members Party.

Paul, Stern [7][8]


1. Eugen Fried, Comintern representative in France

2. German ambassador in France

3. Communist daily whose re-appearance with German approval was a being negotiated by Abetz and Communist Maurice Tréand

4. Communist leader, write for L'Humanité.Executed by the Nazis

5. Communist militant involved in negotiations with Abetz. Expelled from PCF in September 1940

6. Duclos, principal leader of PCF in France

7. Georgi Dimitrov

8. Thorez