english

 


 

 

 

REPUBLICANS OF THE WORLD, arise ....

REPUBLICANS OF THE WORLD, arise in the name of Liberty! In France, in Italy, in Spain, in Hungary, in Denmark, in Poland! And you, our German brothers, proletarians from the other side of the Rhine, will you wait for our victory and the Germanic disaster for the triumph of your freedoms?

Fooled by our common enemies, will you, at the same time as us, rise up to conquer them?

Arise, all who labor! Fight and suffer for justice, for all who are oppressed! For the hour has come for the great combat that will pass judgment on peoples and kings. A superhuman duel of the two principles, of force and of right, of the cannon that screams and kills and of reason that instructs, of the fatalism of Attila and the revolutionary idea.

Courage and the dedication are ours, individually and as a group. Ours are the volunteers, ours are the veterans of the fights for our demands who know how to fight for freedom!

TO ARMS CITIZENS!
TILL DEATH OR VICTORY!
LONG LIVE THE UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC!

The Central Committee of the Twenty Arrondissements of Paris to all the Defenders of the Revolution - 1871

 

 

Karl Marx

THE PARIS COMMUNE

Part 1

Part 2

 

 

 

Marx

The Civil War in France

 

 

 

 

1891 Introduction by Frederick Engels


On the 20th Anniversary of the Paris Commune

 

 

 

Karl Marx - The Story of His Life

Chapter 14: The Decline of the International

 

4. The International and the Paris Commune

written by Franz Mehring

 

 

 

 

 

Lenin

On the Paris Commune

in PDF - Format

New York 1934

 

 

The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution

(Draft Platform for the Proletarian Party)

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 24, pages 55-92.

A NEW TYPE OF STATE EMERGING FROM OUR REVOLUTION

11. The Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Peasants’ and other Deputies are not understood, not only in the sense that their class significance, their role in the Russianrevolution, is not clear to the majority. They are not understood also in the sense that they constitute a new form or rather a new type of state.

The most perfect, the most advanced type of bourgeois state is the parliamentary democratic republic: power is vested in parliament; the state machine, the apparatus and organ of administration, is of the customary kind: the standing army, the police, and the bureaucracy—which in practice is undisplaceable, is privileged and stands abovethe people.

Since the end of the nineteenth century, however, revolutionary epochs have advanced a highertype of democratic state, a state which in certain respects, as Engels put it, ceases to be a state, is “no longer a state in the proper sense of the word”. This is a state of the Paris Commune type, one in which a standing army and police divorced from the people are replacedby the direct arming of the people themselves. It is this featurethat constitutes the very essence of the Commune, which has been so misrepresented and slandered by the bourgeois writers, and to which has been erroneously ascribed, among other things, the intention of immediately “introducing” socialism.

This is the type of state which the Russian revolution beganto create in 1905 and in 1917. A Republic of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Peasants’, and other Deputies, united in an All-Russia Constituent Assembly of people’s representatives or in a Council of Soviets, etc., is what is already being realisedin our country now, at this juncture. It is being realised by the initiative of the nation’s millions, who are creating a democracy on their own, in their own waywithout waiting until the Cadet professors draft their legislative bills for a parliamentary bourgeois republic, or until the pedants and routine-worshippers of petty-bourgeois “Social-Democracy”, like Mr. Plekhanov or Kautsky, stop distorting the Marxist teaching on the state.

Marxism differs from anarchism in that it recognises the needfor a state and for state power in the period of revolution in general, and in the period of transition from capitalism to socialism in particular.

Marxism differs from the petty-bourgeois, opportunist “Social-Democratism” of Plekhanov, Kautsky and Co. in that it recognises that what is required during these two periods is nota state of the usual parliamentary bourgeois republican type, but a state of the Paris Commune type.

The main distinctions between a state of the latter type and the old state are as follows.

It is quite easy (as history proves) to revert from a parliamentary bourgeois republic to a monarchy, for all the machinery of oppression—the army, the police, and the bureaucracy—is left intact. The Commune and the Soviet smashthat machinery and do away with it.

The parliamentary bourgeois republic hampers and stifles the independent political life of the massestheir direct participation in the democraticorganisation of the life of the state from the bottom up. The opposite is the case with the Soviets.

The latter reproduce the type of state which was being evolved by the Paris Commune and which Marx described as “the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic emancipation of labour”.

We are usually told that the Russian people are not yet prepared for the “introduction” of the Commune. This was the argument of the serf-owners when they claimed that the peasants were not prepared for emancipation. The Commune, i.e., the Soviets, does not “introduce”, does not intend to “introduce”, and must not introduce anyreforms which have not absolutely matured both in economic reality and in the minds of the overwhelming majority of the people. The deeper the economic collapse and the crisis produced by the war, the more urgent becomes the need for the most perfect political form, which will facilitatethe healing of the terrible wounds inflicted on mankind by the war. The less the organisational experience of the Russian people, the more resolutely must we proceedto organisational development by the people themselvesand not merely by the bourgeois politicians and “well-placed” bureaucrats.

The sooner we shed the old prejudices of pseudo-Marxism, a Marxism falsified by Plekhanov, Kautsky and Co., the more actively we set about helping the people to organise Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies everywhere and immediately, and helping the latter to take life in its entiretyunder their control, and the longer Lvov and Co. delay the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, the easier will it be for the people (through the medium of the Constituent   Assembly, or independently of it, if Lvov delays its convocation too long) to cast their decision in favour of a republic of Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. Errors in the new work of organisational development by the people themselves are at first inevitable; but it is better to make mistakes and go forward than to waituntil the professors of law summoned by Mr. Lvov draft their laws for the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, for the perpetuation of the parliamentary bourgeois republic and for the strangling of the Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

If we organise ourselves and conduct our propaganda skilfully, not only the proletarians, but nine-tenths of the peasants will be opposed to the restoration of the police, will be opposed to an undisplaceable and privileged bureaucracy and to an army divorced from the people. And that is all the new type of state stands for.

12. The substitution of a people’s militia for the police is a reform that follows from the entire course of the revolution and that is now being introduced in most parts of Russia. We must explain to the people that in most of the bourgeois revolutions of the usual type, this reform was always extremely short-lived, and that the bourgeoisie—even the most democratic and republican—restored the police of the old, tsarist type, a police divorced from the people, commanded by the bourgeoisie and capable of oppressing the people in every way.

There is only one way to preventthe restoration of the police, and that is to create a people’s militia and to fuse it with the army (the standing army to be replaced by the arming of the entire people). Service in this militia should extend to all citizens of both sexes between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five without exception, if these tentatively suggested age limits may be taken as indicating the participation of adolescents and old people. Capitalists must pay their workers, servants, etc., for days devoted to public service in the militia. Unless women are brought to take an independent part not only in political life generally, but also in daily and universal public service, it is no use talking about full and stable democracy, let alone socialism. And such “police” functions as care of the sick and of   homeless children, food inspection, etc., will never be satisfactorily discharged until women are on an equal footing with men, not merely nominally but in reality.

The tasks which the proletariat must put before the people in order to safeguard, consolidate and develop the revolution are prevention of the restoration of the police and enlistment of the organisational forces of the entire people in forming a people’s militia.

 

 

 

 

 

Paris on the Barricades

 

 

1929

 

 

 

 

 

A story in pictures

 

1932

 

 

 

 

The Franco-German War and The Paris Commune

History of The First International (chapter XII)

by G. M. Stekloff

 

 

 

 

Louis Michel

Memories of the Commune

1886

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Lafargue

A Visit to Louise Michel

1885

 

 

 

Manifesto of the Paris Commune

April 19, 1871

 

 

 

International Working mens Association 1872

Resolutions of the Meeting held to celebrate the Anniversary of the Paris Commune

MECW, Volume 23, p. 128;
Written: by Marx between March 13 and 18, 1872;
First published: in La Liberté, March 24, 1872 and in The International Herald, March 30, 1872;

 

I

“That this meeting assembled to celebrate the anniversary of the 18th March last, declares, that it looks upon the glorious movement inaugurated upon the 18th March, 1871, as the dawn of the great social revolution which will for ever free the human race from class rule.”

II

“That the incapacity and the crimes of the middle classes, extended all over Europe by their hatred against the working classes, have doomed old society no matter under what form of government-Monarchical or Republican.”

III

“That the crusade of all governments against the International, and the terror of the murderers of Versailles as well as of their Prussian conquerors, attest the hollowness of their successes, and the presence of. the threatening army of the proletariat of the whole world gathering in the rear of its heroic vanguard crushed by the combined forces of Thiers and William of Prussia.”

 

 

 

 

The Paris Commune 1871

International Workingmen’s Association
Federal Council of Parisian Sections

 

WORKERS:

A long train of reverses, a catastrophe that would necessarily seem to bring about the complete ruin of our country; such is the balance sheet of the situation created for France by the governments that have dominated it.

Have we lost the qualities needed to raise us up from this degradation? Have we degenerated to the point that we resignedly submit to the hypocritical despotism of those who delivered us to the foreigner and that we only have no energy except that needed to render our ruin irremediable through civil war?

The recent events have demonstrated the might of the people of Paris; we are convinced that a fraternal accord will soon demonstrate their wisdom.

The principle of authority is powerless to reestablish order in the streets, to put the shop floors back to work, and this powerlessness is its negation.

The lack of solidarity has created general ruin and engendered social war. It is from freedom, equality and solidarity that we must ask for the assurance of order on new foundations and for the recognition of labor, which is its primordial condition.

 

WORKERS:

The Communal Revolution affirms its principles and casts aside all future causes of conflict. Can you hesitate to give it your definitive sanction?

The independence of the Commune is the guarantee of the contract whose clauses, freely debated, will bring an end to class antagonism and will assure social equality.

We have demanded the emancipation of the workers, and the Communal delegation is the guarantee of this, for it hall furnish each citizen with the means of defending his rights and effectively controlling the acts of its representatives charged with the managing of its interests and determining the progressive applications of social reforms.

The autonomy of each commune removes any oppressive character from its demands and affirms the republic in its highest expression.

 

WORKERS:

We have fought and we have learned to suffer for our egalitarian principles; we cannot retreat now that we can assist in laying the first stone of the social edifice.

What have we asked for?

The organization of credit, exchange, and association in order to assure the worker the full value of his labor;

Free, secular, and integral education;

The right to meet and to form associations; the absolute freedom of the press and of the citizen;

The municipal organization of police services, armed forces, hygiene, statistics, etc.;

We were the dupes of those who governed us; we allowed ourselves to be caught up in their game while they alternately caressed us and repressed the factions whose antagonisms assured their existence.

Today the people of Paris sees things clearly and refuses the role of a child guided by a preceptor, and at the municipal elections – the product of a movement of which it is itself the author – it will remember that the principle that presides over the organization of a group or an association is the same as that which should govern al of society, and just as it rejects any administrator or president imposed by an external power, it will also reject any mayor or prefect imposed by a government foreign to its aspirations.

It will affirm its superior right to a vote of the Assembly to remain master of its city and to constitute as it see fit its municipal representation, without imposing it on others.

We are convinced that on Sunday March 26 the people of Paris will vote for the Commune.

 

The Delegates present at the session of the night of March 23, 1871
Federal Council of Parisian Sections of the International Association:

 

Aubry (Rouen federation)
Boudet
Chaudesaigues
Coifé
V. Demay
A. Duchèe
B. Dupuis
Leo Frankel
H. Gollé
Laureau
Limousine
Martin Léo
Nostag
Ch. Rochat
Federal Chamber of Workers’ Societies
Camélinat
Descamps
Evette
Galand
Haan
Hamet
Jance
J. lalleman
Lazare Levy
Pindy
Eugène Pottier
Rouveyrolles
Spoetler
A. Theisz
B. Very

 

 

 

 

The Paris Commune 1871

Address of the 3rd Congress of the Romande Federation of the International Workingmen’s Association to the Paris Commune

 

Geneva, Temple Unique, May 17, 1871

The annual Congress of the Romande Federation cannot close its sessions without casting its gaze at you, BROTHERS OF PARIS, and without proclaiming its adherence to the great labor of political and social reorganization that you are carrying out.

This is the first time that adepts of the INTERNATIONAL have made triumph the political principles of our Association, which is that of National Federations united among themselves across artificial frontiers and having THE COMMUNE as its fundamental basis.

It is also the first time that the international idea of the representation of labor finds its faithful expression in you, our brothers, who are called upon by the people of Paris to the direction of affairs of the great Commune, once again in full possession of itself.

While Paris is blocked by the Chouans of Versailles, it is incumbent upon us to defend you by enlightening those populations still in the dark on the true meaning of the revolution of March 18, accomplished in the name of the economic aspirations of the working classes. Everywhere that human intelligence exists it’s up to us to make understood that there is no middle ground between the two irreconcilable parties: social revolution or monarchical reaction.

We can’t help but express our profound regret that in the ferocious struggle between these two parties the provinces have not yet understood either their obligations or their interests. They haven’t understood that their destiny is intimately tied to that of the Paris Commune, because if Paris were to succumb with it would fall republican freedom, and on the smoking ruins of the cosmopolitan city would once again be installed the “order” of bloody persecution, the transportation of republicans, and the massacre of workers every time they demand their right to live from their labor.

But let reaction know well that that we make the solemn commitment to ceaselessly pursue our labor, that of plucking up the courage of the people so that they rise against the reaction of Versailles in order to extend their hands to the combatants of Paris across the gendarmes of Bonaparte and the mercenaries of Thiers, Favre, and Picard.

May this commitment, contracted by the workers of all countries, prove to reaction that it can’t defeat the Commune.

And if reaction has until now prevented you from realizing all the social and political reorganization that the Commune carries within itself; if reaction has forced you to preoccupy yourself for the moment with the suppression of the shadowy attacks of treason and corruption, to consecrate yourselves completely to the fight to the end against the assassination of the republic, thus putting obstacles before the peaceful development of the new social life, the Commune nevertheless remains the only federative form which, through its application extended throughout France, is capable of assuring independence, well-being and equality for all. It alone can create true national unity, that is, the unity of the people through the harmony of all its interests.

It is for this that we proclaim that the principles of the Commune have already triumphed over the debris of the ancien régime and its definitive consolidation cannot be far off, for it is and will remain the object of all the efforts of the workers.

And when the workers are united by an organization as vast as that of the International, the triumph of their cause is assured.

Receive then, Parisian brothers, our warm wishes for your imminent success, and believe that the members of the International of the entire world will join with us to declare that the International should adopt the orphans and the widows of the defenders of the Paris Commune.

 

Long live the Paris Commune!

Long live the International Association!

 

 

 

MAY 17, 1871

 

The Central Committee of the Union of Women for the Defense of Paris and the Care of the Wounded, charged by the Commune’s Labor Commission with the organization of the labor of the women of Paris and with the constituting of federal and union chambers of united working women;

Given the identity of the union and federal chambers of workingmen, of the grouping of workingwomen in professional sections forming free and federated productive associations among themselves,

Consequently, it invites all workingwomen to meet today Wednesday, May 17 at the Bourse at 7:00 p.m. in order to name delegates from each corporation for the constituting of union chambers that will, in turn, each send two delegates for the formation of a federal chamber of workingwomen.

For all information contact the Committee of the Union of Women, instituted and functioning in all arrondisements.

Seat of the Central Committee of the Union: Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Martin, at the town hall of the Xth arrondisement.

Seen and approved

The Delegate for the Department of Labor and Exchange
Leo Frankel

The Executive Committee of the Central Committee
Nathalie le Mel
Aline Jacquier
Leloup
Blanche Lefevre
Collin
Jarry
Elisabeth Dmitrieff

 

 

 



The first great but groping attempt of a proletariat to seize and maintain political power was the experiment of the Paris Commune. The military problem was not one of the least causes of its failure. In his historical work The Paris Commune, which appeared in 1880, Peter Lavrov depicted the inability of the Communards to put an efficient army into the field against the forces of the Versailles Assembly in the following words:

"Neither the socialists nor the democratic extremists, both of whom were drawn from the ranks of the peaceful working classes and clerks, could provide military specialists. The usual occupations and general trend of thought of these leaders of a people’s revolution made them strangers to military technique and unfitted them for the task of controlling the actions of military leaders. The government was incompetent to direct in affairs of war; consequently all military discipline was under mined, while the military leaders were deprived of the possibility of taking quick and energetic action at the very moment when the fate of the Commune depended on the speed and energy of their actions."

Lissagaray, who fought for the Commune, describes the state of the troops as follows:

"Most battalions had no leaders. The cadres of the National Guard were incomplete, while the generals who took the responsibility of leading 40,000 men had never taken even a single battalion into action. They neglected the most elementary arrangements; they failed to provide artillery, powder wagons and ambulances. One day they even forgot to issue any orders, and so left their men for hours without food in a cold, wet fog."

It was the experience of the Paris Commune that led Karl Kautsky to the opinion that “warfare is not the proletariat’s strong point.”

But meanwhile almost half a century had elapsed. The proletariat had learnt much since 1871, even in the military sphere.

 

 

 

 

 

Timeline

of The Civil War

in France

 

1870

January 10: About 100,000 people demonstrate against Bonaparte's Second Empire after the death of Victor Noir, a republican journalist killed by the Emperor's cousin, Pierre Bonaparte.

 

May 8:

A national plebiscite votes confidence in the Empire with about 84% of votes in favour. On the eve of the plebiscite members of the Paris Federation were arrested on a charge of conspiring against Napoleon III. This pretext was further used by the government to launch a campaign of persecution of the members of the International throughout France.

 

July 19:

After a diplomatic struggle over the Prussian attempt for the Spanish throne, Louis Bonaparte declares war on Prussia.

July 23: Marx completes what will become known as his "First Address."

 

July 26: The "First Address" is approved and internationally distributed by the General Council of the International Working Men's Association.

 

August 4-6:

Crown Prince Frederick, commanding one of the three Prussian armies invading France, defeats French Marshal MacMahon at Worth and Weissenburg, pushes him out of Alsace (NorthEastern France), surrounds Strasbourg, and drives on towards Nancy. The other two Prussian armies isolate Marshal Bazaine's forces in Metz.

 

August 16-18:

French Commander Bazaine's efforts to break his soldiers through the German lines are bloodily defeated at Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte. The Prussians advance on Chalons.

 

September 1: Battle of Sedan. MacMahon and Bonaparte, attempting to relieve Bazaine at Metz and finding the road closed, enters battle and is defeated at Sedan.

 

September 2:

Emperor Napoleon III and Marshal MacMahon capitulate at Sedan with over 83,000 soldiers.

 

September 4:

At news of Sedan, Paris workers invade the Palais Bourbon and force the Legislative Assembly to proclaim the fall of the Empire. By evening, the Third Republic is proclaimed at the Hotel de Ville (the City Hall) in Paris. The provisional Government of National Defence (GND) is established to continue the war effort to remove Germany from France.

 

September 5:

A series of meetings and demonstrations begin in London and other big cities, at which resolutions and petitions were passed demanding that the British Government immediately recognize the French Republic. The General Council of the First International took a direct part in the organization of this movement.

 

September 6:

GND issues statement: blames war on Imperial government, it now wants peace, but "not an inch of our soil, not a stone of our fortresses, will we cede." With Prussia occupying Alsace-Lorraine, the war does not stop.

 

September 19:

Two German armies begin the long siege of Paris. Bismarck figures the "soft and decadent" French workers will quickly surrender. The GND sends a delegation to Tours, soon to be joined by Gambetta (who escapes from Paris in a balloon), to organize resistance in the provinces.

 

October 27:

French army, led by Bazaine with 140,000-180,000 men at Metz, surrenders.

 

October 30:

French National Guard defeated at Le Bourget.

 

October 31: Upon the receipt of news that the Government of National Defense had decided to start negotiations with the Prussians, Paris workers and revolutionary sections of the National Guard rise up in revolt, led by Blanqui. They seize the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) and set up their revolutionary government — the Committee of Public Safety, headed by Blanqui. On October 31, Flourens prevents any members of the Government of National Defense from being shot, as had been demanded by one of the insurrectionists.

 

November 1:

Under pressure from the workers the Government of National Defense promises to resign and schedule national elections to the Commune — promises it has no intention to deliver. With the workers pacified by their 'legal' charade, the government violently seizes the Hôtel de Ville and re-establishes its domination over the besieged city. Paris official Blanqui is arrested for treason.

 

1871

January 22:

The Paris proletariat and the National Guards hold a revolutionary demonstration, initiated by the Blanquists. They demand the overthrow of the government and the establishment of a Commune. By order of the Government of National Defense, the Breton Mobile Guard, which was defending the Hôtel de Ville, opens fire on the demonstrators. After massacring the unarmed workers, the government begins preparations to surrender Paris to the Germans.

 

January 28:

After four long months of workers struggle, Paris is surrendered to the Prussians. While all regular troops are disarmed, the National Guard is permitted to keep their arms — the populous of Paris remains armed and allows the occupying armies only a small section of the city.

 

Febuary 8:

Elections held in France, unknown to most of the nation's population.

 

Febuary 12:

New National Assembly opens at Bordeaux; two-thirds of members are conservatives and wish the war to end.

 

February 16:

The Assembly elects Adolphe Thiers chief executive.

 

February 26:

The preliminary peace treaty between France and Germany signed at Versailles by Thiers and Jules Favre, on the one hand, and Bismarck, on the other. France surrenders Alsace and East Lorraine to Germany and paid it indemnities to the sum of 5 billion francs. German army of occupation to slowly withdraw as indemnity payments made. The final peace treaty was signed in Frankfort-on-Main on May 10, 1871.

 

March 1-3:

After months of struggle and suffering, Paris workers react angrily to the entry of German troops in the city, and the ceaseless capitulation of the government. The National Guard defects and organizes a Central Committee.

 

March 10:

The National Assembly passes a law on the deferred payment of overdue bills; under this law the payment of debts on obligations concluded between August 13 and November 12, 1870 could be deferred. Thus, the law leads to the bankruptcy of many petty bourgeoisie.

 

March 11:

National Assembly adjourns. With trouble in Paris, it establishes its government at Versailles on March 20.

 

 

March 18:

Adolphe Thiers attempts to disarm Paris and sends French troops (regular army), but, through fraternization with Paris workers, they refuse to carry out thier orders. Generals Claude Martin Lecomte and Jacques Leonard Clement Thomas are killed by their own soldiers. Many troops peacefully withdraw, some remain in Paris. Thiers outraged, the Civil War begins.

 

March 26:

A municipal council — the Paris Commune — is elected by the citizens of Paris. Commune consists of workers, among them members of the First International and followers of Proudhon and Blanqui.

 

March 28:

The Central Committee of the National Guard, which up to then had carried on the government, resigns after it first decrees the permanent abolition of the "Morality Police".

 

March 30:

The Commune abolishes conscription and the standing army; the National Guard, in which all citizens capable of bearing arms were to be enrolled, was to be the sole armed force. The Commune remitts all payments of rent for dwelling houses from October 1870 until April 1871. On the same day the foreigners elected to the Commune were confirmed in office, because "the flag of the Commune is the flag of the World Republic".

 

April 1:

The Commune declares that the highest salary received by any member of the Commune does not exceed 6,000 francs

 

April 2:

In order to suppress the Paris Commune Thiers appeals to Bismarck for permission to supplement the Versailles Army with French prisoners of war, most of whom had been serving in the armies that surrendered at Sedan and Metz. In return for the 5 billion francs indemnity payment, Bismarck agrees. The French Army begins seige of Paris. Paris is continually bombarded and, moreover, by the very people who had stigmatized as a sacrilege the bombardment of the same city by the Prussians.

The Commune decrees the separation of the Church from the State, and the abolition of all state payments for religious purposes as well as the transformation of all Church property into national property. Religion is declared a purely private matter.

 

April 5:

Decree on hostages adopted by the Commune in an attempt to prevent Communards from being shot by the French Government. Under this decree, all persons found guilty of being in contact with the French Government were declared hostages. This was never carried out.

 

April 6:

The guillotine was brought out by the 137th battalion of the National guard, and publicly burnt, amid great popular rejoicing.

 

April 7:

On April 7, the French army captures the Seine crossing at Neuilly, on the western front of Paris.

Reacting to French government policy of shooting captured Communards, Commune issues an "eye-for-an-eye" policy statement, threatening retaliation. The bluff is quickly called; Paris workers execute no one.

 

April 8:

A decree excluding from the schools all religious symbols, pictures, dogmas, prayers — in a word, "all that belongs to the sphere of the individual's conscience" — is ordered to be excluded from the schools. The decree is gradually applied.

 

April 11:

In an attack on southern Paris the French army is repulsed with heavy losses by General Eudes.

 

April 12:

The Commune decides that the Victory Column on the Place Vendôme, which had been cast from guns captured by Napoleon after the war of 1809, should be demolished as a symbol of chauvinism and incitement to national hatred. This decree was carried out on May 16.

 

April 16:

Commune announces the postponement of all debt obligations for three years and abolition of interest on them.

The Commune orders a statistical tabulation of factories which had been closed down by the manufacturers, and the working out of plans for the carrying on of these factories by workers formerly employed in them, who were to be organized in co-operative societies, and also plans for the organization of these co-operatives in one great union.

 

April 20:

The Commune abolishes night work for bakers, and also the workers' registration cards, which since the Second Empire had been run as a monopoly by police nominees — exploiters of the first rank; the issuing of these registration cards was transferred to the mayors of the 20 arrondissements of Paris.

 

April 23:

Thiers breaks off the negotiations for the exchange, proposed by Commune, of the Archbishop of Paris [Georges Darboy] and a whole number of other priests held hostages in Paris, for only one man, Blanqui, who had twice been elected to the Commune but was a prisoner in Clairvaux.

 

April 27:

In sight of the impending municipal elections of April 30, Thiers enacted one of his great conciliation scenes. He exclaimed from the tribune of the Assembly: "There exists no conspiracy against the republic but that of Paris, which compels us to shed French blood. I repeat it again and again...". Out of 700,000 municipal councillors, the united Legitimists, Orleanists, and Bonapartists ( Party of Order ) did not carry 8,000.

 

April 30:

The Commune orders the closing of the pawnshops, on the ground that they were a private exploitation of labor, and were in contradiction with the right of the workers to their instruments of labor and to credit.

 

May 5:

On May 5 it ordered the demolition of the Chapel of Atonement, which had been built in expiation of the execution of Louis XVI.

 

May 9:

Fort Issy, which is completely reduced to ruins by gunfire and constant French bombardement, is captured by the French army.

 

May 10:

The peace treaty concluded in February now signed, known as Treaty of Frankfurt. (Endorsed by National Assembly May 18.)

 

May 16:

The Vendôme Column is pulled down. The Vendôme Column was erected between 1806 and 1810 in Paris in honor of the victories of Napoleonic France; it was made out of the bronze captured from enemy guns and was crowned by a statue of Napoleon.

 

May 21-28:

Versailles troops enter Paris on May 21.

The Prussians who held the northern and eastern forts allowed the Versailles troops to advance across the land north of the city, which was forbidden ground to them under the armistice — Paris workers held the flank with only weak forces. As a result of this, only a weak resistance was put up in the western half of Paris, in the luxury city; while it grew stronger and more tenacious the nearer the Versailles troops approached the eastern half, the working class city.

The French army spent eight days massacring workers, shooting civilians on sight. The operation was led by Marshal MacMahon, who would later become president of France.

 

Tens of thousands of Communards and workers are summarily executed (as many as 30,000); 38,000 others imprisoned and 7,000 are forcibly deported.

 

 

 

 

Eugene Pottier

 

1870


Wilhelm and Paris


Eugène Pottier, Chants Révolutionnaires (second edition), Paris, Bureau de Comité Pottier, [n.d.]


WILHELM

Paris, know your danger
I trapped your army;
Open, or I'll besiege you!

 

PARIS
Besiege!

 

WILHELM

You'll see consumed
The old, children, the women;
Open, or I'll starve you

 

PARIS
Starve!

 

WILHELM

A crater will flame,
Burning palaces and slums;
Open, or I'll bombard

 

PARIS
Bombard!

 

WILHELM

Everyone’s not so firm.
Who’s the ambassador we'll horse trade with
Who'll sign the peace?

 

PARIS
Cambronne! [1]

 

– November 1870


[1] Pierre Cambronne was a Napoleonic general who, when summoned to surrender at Waterloo was reported as saying “The Guard dies and doesn’t surrender.” The more common version of his response is that he simple replied “merde!” Since then “le mot de Cambronne” has signified “shit!”

 

 

 

 

 

The Commune of Paris - 1871

by Frank Jellinek

1937

 

 

 

 

The Rise of Paris

 

by Robert Ballanger

1945

 

 

 

 

The Paris Commune

1871-1919

 

"The Revolutionary Age"

Saturday, March 15, 1919