Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The Appeal of Resistance Fighters

by talos Wed Apr 19th, 2006 at 04:56:35 AM EST

This is an appeal by French WWII resistance fighters, calling "on the younger generations to animate and retransmit the heritage of the Resistance and its still current ideals of economic, social, and cultural democracy."  

The original text and the English translation of the Appeal can be found on the MRzine website. The appeal's aim is to pass on "the flame of the Resistance" - and the points these old heroes and heroines make (in their 80s and 90s all of them) are close to the European Tribune's themes:

Back from the front page


First, we appeal to teachers, social movements, public collectives, creators, citizens, the exploited, the humiliated, to celebrate together the anniversary of the program of the National Council of the Resistance (C.N.R.) adopted in the underground on 15 March 1944: Social security and generalized pensions, control of "economic feudalisms," the right to culture and education for all, the press freed from money and corruption, labor and agricultural social laws, etc.   How can it be that today money to maintain and extend these social conquests cannot be found, while the production of wealth has increased considerably since the Liberation, the period when Europe lay in ruin?  The political, economic, and intellectual leaders, and society as a whole, should neither resign themselves to nor allow themselves to be impressed by the current international dictatorship of financial markets which threatens peace and democracy.

One could do worse than heed the warnings and the call to action of those that resisted and helped defeat fascism. Their closing words, a message to those that are about to succeed them, are an heirloom to all of us from the generation that defeated the Nazis and defended  democratic principles with their lives:

More than ever, to those who will create the century that is just beginning, we want to say with our affection:

"To create is to resist. To resist is to create."

Display:
Excellent post...excellent news!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 08:36:47 AM EST
One of the unbeatable laws of nature...

Never heard this before in these words.

I hate the idea of duty to a slogan or banner - it gives other people the right to speak on your behalf. I'd rather do it myself.

But here is one banner I could stand underneath

To create is to resist. To resist is to create

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 09:12:12 AM EST
I agree, its like a non-creed creed...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 09:16:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And it doesn't indicate that you belong to any kind of club or cult.

It's really intended for a group of one.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 09:24:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A very good idea to make a diary on this.

You can also listen to (in French only unfortunately) an interview on France Inter of former résistant, Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont, one of the national leaders of the Résistance, a member of the Military Action Committee of the Résistance National Council, who is one of the signatories of the appeal relayed in this diary.

In Real Audio format. (skip the first several minutes of answering machine messages left by the radio station's listeners, to get to the interview)

(alternate source in OGG Vorbis format)

He is passionate, even in old age, and makes you feel like standing up for your rights, right here, right now!

He explains how the authorities, the radios, the TVs of Vichy described his clique as terrorists during the war, and how it was hard not to lose focus of any objectives when resistants were insulted, despised, treated like traitors ... while passivity was lauded and applauded.

There is a small excerpt from a radio news program from the times: "In Grenoble an attack by terrorists has destroyed the town's munitions depot... some dead, some wounded, two thousand people made homeless, an entire neighbourhood destroyed [..] French blood flows again, but this time spilled by Frenchmen".

Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont goes on to explain that back then during the occupation, the movement was comprised of a majority of youths too, and the situation was one of total despair, utter violence and fear, and that it was very very hard not to feel like giving up entirely. But in all that horror, the Résistance National Council was providing hope, bringing forth a program, which, I quote him "would make its authors, today, seem like fanatic extreme-leftists, for having pretentions that today would be said to be unrealisable ... a retirement plan making it possibly for old workers to finish their days with dignity, the possibility for any competent worker in a company to access higher rungs of management and direction [..]", and these were not only the ideas of the Communists engaged in the Résistance, but also those of the Gaullists.

He adds: "there was no minor résistance and minor collaboration ... there was only passivity and résistance (nothing in between) [..] Do you know how many Judges in all of France refused to swear allegiance to Pétain? ONE! Churches, economic forces, it was frightening, they went straight to the service of the Germans! [..] And the résistance was not composed of a unique type of man wearing berets in green fields, it was diverse, with conflicting views, it was France, it was France with all its differences"

Listen to the Chants des Partisans (MP3), the Résistance's rallying song.

Friend, do you hear the crows' dark flight over our plains?

Friend, do you hear the muffled screams of the country being shackled?

O-hay patriots, labourers and farmers, the alarm has sounded!

Tonight the enemy shall know the price of blood and tears.

Climb up the mine, come down the hills, comrades,

From the straw unhide the guns, the munitions and the grenades;

O-hay killers, with bullets and knives kill swiftly!

O-hay saboteurs, be careful with your burden, of dynamite!

It is we that break the jail bars, for our brothers,

Hate is running after us, and hunger drives us, in misery.

There are countries where people sleep in their beds and dream.

Here, see, we, we walk and we kill and we die

Here, each one of us knows what one wants, and what one does when he passes by;

Friend, if you fall, a friend emerges from the dark to take your place.

Tomorrow, black blood shall dry out in the sun on the roads

Sing, companions, for that in the night freedom listens to us.

--relayed from Là Bas si j'y Suis via La Liste à Suivre--

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 09:35:21 AM EST
Not long ago at my grandfather's, I found a Mouvement Résistance paper of recognition for my great-grandfather. I had no idea what the man had done during WWII (this is the same man I mentioned in my Verdun diary, whose job then was to run under artillery shells to check the telegraph line). The paper attests from a man who knew him, Marcel Renet (aka Jacques Destree), that my great-grandfather was engaged in the distribution of a clandestine newspaper during the war (specifically of "Pantagruel" as early as 1940, and of "Résistance, le nouveau journal de Paris" apparently up to the end of the war).

When I read that, my first reaction was "umm, not as  glorious as I would have romanticized it to be" (because all my life I was dreaming of having a Résistance ancestor, and here it came, in this form ... ie. 2 of my grand-parents spent the war in labour camps in Germany, the other 2 in the deep countryside didn't do anything but be peasants, so I had thought that that was it ... I hadn't counted on the generation before them).

I was imagining a adult, not even a paperboy, just dropping a few newspapers here and there, nothing to fret about. I scanned this paper of recognition (my grandpa is one of those guys who started using computers at age 85 or so, and so has a scanner), to take it with me and archive it.

Some time later, I looked at it again, and sort of understood that there was no minor résistance nor minor collaboration. But I think listening to the voice of Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont makes that much easier to understand. Either you were passive, or you resisted. Nothing in between. It didn't matter how little you did.

Besides, with some after-thought, even distributing clandestine newspapers must have carried the death penalty.

I guess I should look at that piece of paper (I'm looking at it right now) particularly on days on which I've given in to someone, letting them stand on my toes and treat me like shit. But it's just a piece of paper. I wish I had known him personally of course, but he died when I was barely a child.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 09:58:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another radio extract from the occupation, in the radio program I link to above:

Frenchmen, among you, civil servants, soldiers, or simple citizens, participate in résistance groups, which compromises the future of the nation. It is in your best interest to maintain a correct and loyal attitude towards the forces of occupation. Do not commit any acts that can bring upon you or upon the population terrible reprisals. You would be precipitating our motherland towards the worst of misfortunes.
by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 12:07:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fantastic quote from Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont (I'm relistening to the interview to be able to translate parts of it for non-French speakers):

Question: do you feel that today there is a sense of general resignation?

Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont: I will answer with 2 examples.

1934. France is on the brink of succumbing to fachism. Fachists are showing themselves everywhere, at all levels of society, and are trying to seize power (high-ranking officers in the army, etc), and generally the situation is no better than it is NOW. In February 1934, the first big demonstration assembles all the unions that want France to go the other way. In 1936, the Front Populaire (Popular Front) is born. 2 years later. In 2 years France went from being on the brink of fachism to the Front Populaire! If you had told people in 1934 that 2 years later the Front Populaire would be elected, people would have laughed at you.

But that is nothing. In 1942, Stalingrad is at the hands of the Nazi advance. It means it's over. The world is over. The whole world is about to fall under the boot of fachism. In 1944 Paris is liberated. (he chuckles) I can right now imagine my buddies of the (résistance) cell I was in, Aubrac, Rabanel, in Lyon ... and if one of us had woken up one night (we used to share mattresses so we could not sleep on the back, we had to sleep on ths side, and if one of us shifted, then we'd all have to shift (he chuckles)), well if one of us had woken up one night and told the others that Paris would be liberated in 2 years, the others would have laughed all night long at him. It was impossible. Yet it was 2 years later.

That is my answer.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 12:26:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And he goes on to say:


Question: but it does seem that people feel powerless and resignated. And yet there are no Nazis on the other side.

Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont: I totally agree with you. I would say that 3-4 years ago, we were all bored. Now there is always something happening, that deserves to be mentioned, talked about. We are no longer bored. And it is a sign that there are lots of people, very broadly, who are asking a lot of very good questions. What's missing are good answers, but all the right/good questions are always asked. So I find it hard to say that we still need to wait a little bit, but please don't make it too long for me (ie. because he's old).

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 12:33:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent stuff - thank you for taking the time and effort to make it accessible to us!

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 01:08:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find talos's initiative to open this diary very good!

We French people must not forget that Social Security was created in 1945, from the initiatives of the likes of the Résistance National Council, which indeed was comprised of Left and Right wing members. 1945 means BEFORE the Marshall Plan. And even after the Marshall Plan was in effect, unions had to fight for salary rises etc (I mean to say by this that social programs can be done at times of utter poverty -1945, or even when there is money by diverting some of it through choice -1947+).

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 01:29:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What one should remember is that Europe during WWII, with the memory of the failure of capitalism during the Great Depression, was a much more left wing place, economically speaking, than it is today after the success of the capitalist welfare state in the postwar era.  That was true of the mainstream right, moderate left as well as the genuine hard left.

And a quibble:

would make its authors, today, seem like fanatic extreme-leftists

With all due respect to M. Kriegel Valrimont (and I mean that sincerely), he himself, a communist activist,  i.e. Stalinist, was a 'fanatical extreme leftist.'  That was unfortunately true of much of the Resistance in many European countries - many fought Nazism in the name of creating something almost as bad. One can understand the motivations and circumstances that led them to that political choice, but they were horribly mistaken and one can only be profoundly grateful that they were not successful in achieving their political objectives.

by MarekNYC on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 08:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With all due respect to M. Kriegel Valrimont (and I mean that sincerely), he himself, a communist activist,  i.e. Stalinist, was a 'fanatical extreme leftist.'

I believe you're missing the point he's making here, or else I wouldn't see any reason for you to make this comment. Gaullists were not Communists nor left-wing, yet they were pushing the same agenda as the Communists. And the agenda they were pushing was very extreme ... a whole new way of seeing life.

One can understand the motivations and circumstances that led them to that political choice, but they were horribly mistaken and one can only be profoundly grateful that they were not successful in achieving their political objectives.

The Conseil National de la Résistance was not composed only of Communists, it achieved its objectives, and it's a great thing that it did. Social Security, retirement pension etc ... all thanks to the Résistance National Council.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Apr 18th, 2006 at 03:21:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe you're missing the point he's making here, or else I wouldn't see any reason for you to make this comment. Gaullists were not Communists nor left-wing, yet they were pushing the same agenda as the Communists. And the agenda they were pushing was very extreme ... a whole new way of seeing life.

Which is why I agreed with him in the first part of my comment, and placed it in its historical context. But I also did find it ironic that the person making the remark happened to be an (ex?) 'fanatical extreme leftist'.  I'd react similarly to the mirror image of this comment by a veteran of the attempted coup against the Nazis who had been a right wing extremist (many of the July plotters were ultra-reactionary extreme nationalist.)

by MarekNYC on Tue Apr 18th, 2006 at 03:31:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ohhhh!! Ouch sorry for doubting your understanding of his comment then (I didn't think for a second you were finding some irony in it, I thought you were contemplating the CNR essentially as a group of fanatic left-wingers, my bad).
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Apr 18th, 2006 at 03:54:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more I watch the video, and the more I find these old men and women very moving.

At a time when it's easy to perpetuate the notion that old people are more reactionary and likely to vote Le Pen (a prejudice which I often transmit myself), this is very refreshing.

Ok, this is a generalisation, but still ...

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 10:53:43 AM EST
My favourite text of the Résistance, is composed of "vers brisés" (I don't know the translation in English, but consists of hiding texts inside another one).

I couldn't google upon an original poster from the WWII era, but the text, which I attempted to translate, was published and pasted by the Résistance (without the gap in the middle, obviously). I remember seeing it in Gothic letters, looking nasty.


Love and admire         chancellor Hitler !
Eternal England         does not deserve to live
Despise, crush          those across the channel
The Nazi on Earth       will survive alone.
Let us be the support   of the German führer
Of these navigators     the race is cursed.
To these men alone      a just punishment
The winner's palm       answers to true merit.

Original:


Aimons et admirons      le chancelier Hitler !
L'Éternelle Angleterre  est indigne de vivre.
Maudissons, écrasons    le peuple d'outremer
Le nazi sur la terre    sera seul à survivre.
Soyons donc le soutien  du führer allemand
De ces navigateurs      la race soit maudite.
À eux seuls appartient  ce juste châtiment
La palme du vainqueur   répond au vrai mérite.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 05:02:55 PM EST
A small suggestion to make it better and more in line with the original (without screwing up the column setup):


Of these navigators     the race is cursed.
To these men belongs    a just punishment
The winner's palm       answers to true merit.

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 05:07:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fantastic diary! It's so poignant that in Italy for the past five years the rightwing in power has done everything possible to belittle and denigrate our partigiani. Could their memories be that of our children!
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Apr 17th, 2006 at 06:06:34 PM EST
how predictable that the italian right would try and besmirch the partigiani...

the sheeps' clothing is dropping off these wolves daily, as their true colours emerge.

the xenophobes, the racists, the corporatists, the opus dei-run, pedophilia-covering vatican, the mafia, the media manipulators, the secret P2, the spook assassins, the anti-partisans....so nice to see you all, exposed for all to see in your disgusting belief systems.

you stand together, you try to convince pinko pallino to vote for you so he can sell his soul to the dark ones.

we see you ever more clearly, and we will not rest until the rest of the world sees you too for the sorry excuses for human beings you have become, and the outright evil you spread through your deceit.

i am so proud italy has rejected you, and i hope justice catches up with you all, and puts you where you belong.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Apr 19th, 2006 at 01:31:30 PM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]