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Parti communiste francais

From Women in European History

The Parti communiste francais (or French Communist Party) was a political party that emerged in France in 1920. The party was initially started as a response to World War I, it appealed to people who opposed World War I and supported the Bolshevik revolution. Not surprisingly, the founding principles of the party were based on communism, specifically Russian communism. The PCF was founded by another group called the French Section of the Worker's International (SFIO), but with the change of name and the change of times the party grew to three times its previous size and changed its name to the PCF.

Though the party was greatly affected by World War I, our subject matter specifically deals with World War II, so the ways in which the party grew and changed will not be discussed. Suffice it to say, the party thrived over the next 20 years.

In World War I, the PCF had taken what some later called an imperialist stance on the war. They were committed to defending France. However, in 1939 they changed their opinions and took on a peace-keeping attitude: they supported Hitler's ideas about peace. However, during Hitler's occupation of France, the communists did not get along very peacefully with the Nazi troops. They staged demonstrations and strikes and, most importantly, and in 1941 the PCF called for the independence of France.

By this time, things were much different in the PCF than the peace-keeping time during 1939. Hitler's troops had invaded Russia while at the same time, the PCF was significantly expanding resistance efforts. Influential leaders in the PCF were calling for the assassination of political leaders and they were taking direct action against the Nazi troops. The PCF became so powerful in France that they controlled entire regions of the country. When Germany fell and started leaving France, leaders in the PCF reluctantly agreed to adopt the policy that they had taken during the beginning of World War I: peace.

Though the PCF has changed a lot since World War II, it is still a recognized party in France. This is a very concise description of the resistance party that Marguerite Duras played a hand in and which she describes in her memoirs extensively. This description of the PCF is representative of the party about which Monsieur X, Here Called Pierre Rabier was written. It shows how influential the PCF was in France during the time that Marguerite Duras was involved and it even gives greater historical context to Robert Anthelm's time spent in Bergen-Belsen since the reason he was taken away was his affiliation with the PCF and the French Resistance. Through this background information, we can see that the PCF greatly shaped Marguerite Duras' experiences during World War II, both directly (by pushing her towards espionage during her relationship with Pierre Rabier) and indirectly (by causing her husband to be taken away as a political prisoner). Despite the brevity of this introduction to the Parti communiste francais, it will hopefully allow a vision into the greater context of her political views as well as her individual memoirs.

Sources

Ross, George. "Party Decline and Changing Party Systems: France and the French Communist Party." Comparative Politics 25 (1992): 43-61.

Wright, Gordon. "Reflections on the French Resistance (1940-1944)." Political Science Quarterly 77 (1962): 336-49.

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This page has been accessed 3,192 times. This page was last modified on 3 June 2009, at 10:24.


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