Maurice Thorez 1945
Speech given at the Velodrome d’Hiver October 2, 1945;
Source: Ouevres Choisies. Paris, Editions Sociales 1965;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2009.
Today is the anniversary of the shameful Munich capitulation.
The Communist Party had for a long time sounded the alarm, denounced the danger of fascism. It had quoted from Mein Kampf at the tribune of the Chamber.
The Communist Party had succeeded in having the Socialists accept the pact for unity in action, not in 1935 as it has been written, doubtless in error as if the pact was a consequence of the Franco-Soviet treaty, but in July 1934, on the basis of the union of the workers united February 9 and 12, 1934 and afterwards against the fascist plot.
And then our party put forward the idea of the Popular Front, whose program wasn’t applied.
And then there was the French Front and the hand extended to the Catholics.
Long before the war our party had spelled out the need for a front of the democracies. But the government, going from concession to concession, preferred the policy of non-intervention, which led to Munich.
Munich was the dark plot against democracy!
It was the policy of France’s isolation.
We alone spoke the truth.
At the Chamber on October 4, 1938 Gabriel Péri rose up against the appeasers. The protest was renewed on November 7, 1938 at the Velodrome d’Hiver in the name of the Central Committee of the Party.
How were we led to defeat and abandonment, and who led us there?
For the spirit of compromise within and without, the spirit of reconciliation with fascism has not yet disappeared.
75,000 of ours fell in combat in the cause of humanity, for the cause that the Soviet Union so gloriously defended.
After Stalingrad there was no longer any doubt; liberation was certain.
Stalingrad has entered the deepest part of h our hearts, as it is in the heart of our friend Dolores [Ibarurri – La Pasionaria] whose son died at Stalingrad.
Non-intervention was already the spirit of the Western Bloc.
How could we not be opposed to the idea of a western bloc, even dressed up in euphemisms like “family” or “complex"?
A Western Bloc that would be an adjunct to the United States or the Soviet Union would not prepare the peace; it would be nothing but a truce before a war already judged to be inevitable.
And what kind of war, with the atomic bomb?
England now has a Labor government whose victory we ardently saluted .
But certain speeches have thrown cold water on our enthusiasm, speeches where we only find criticisms of the democratic governments of Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia, and complacency towards the Greek regime of reactionary terror, or that of Franco, this latter condemned at the Potsdam Conference!
Rather than signing commercial agreements with Franco, it would have been better to the assistance of Alvarez and Zapirain.
For our people it’s a question of making reparation for the crime of non-intervention by aiding the Spanish people with all our force.
The people want the liquidation of the economic foundations of fascism, the punishment of the war criminals, the compensation due them for war damages.
The German people, who we do not confuse with the Hitlerite clique, must nevertheless work to re-make what they destroyed.
We lack coal – even though, thanks to the Communist Party the extraction has nearly reached pre-war production . What are we waiting for to extract it from the Sarre? But we won’t get this by putting at the head of the mines of the Sarre the Vichyists driven out of the mines of the Loire!
Take from Germany the wood that we need, the livestock that was stolen from us.
But these reparations won’t suffice. Our revival depends on our own efforts, the union of all republicans strengthened by the union of the working class; and it is with passionate interest that we are following the work of the world-wide conference that is preparing the constitution of the trade-union international.
How strong would be the republican majority backed by working class, whose role cannot be misunderstood without danger.
We call for a vote for the republic and for France!
Vote YES on the first question or a Constituent Assembly that will bring about the new.
Vote NO to the second question so that this assembly will be sovereign and the ministers responsible.
Forward for the triumph of the republic!