Courtesy Reuters

After the Popular Front

ANOTHER Fourteenth of July has gone by. Great military parade in the Champs Elysées in the morning, and a Front Populaire procession between the Bastille and the Place de la Nation in the afternoon. Half a million or more came to see the one; and only very few came to see the other. The Front Populaire procession had lost much of its past vitality and of its popular appeal. Large banners were put up in the Place de la Nation displaying the "Front Populaire oath" of July 14, 1935 -- the oath to "defend the Republic, to give bread to the workers, and peace to humanity." The words now had a hollow sound, especially when one remembered the circumstances in which they originally were displayed. On that day in 1935 the Front Populaire procession must have brought 600,000 people together. It represented the immense protest movement then sweeping over France -- a reaction of the people of France against the "Sixth of February" and all that this had meant. One could scarcely move from the Bastille to the Place de la Nation, so dense were the crowds. For, apart from the procession itself, the sidewalks were packed with enthusiastic spectators -- all the little shopkeepers and artisans of the Faubourg Saint Antoine had crowded into the street to associate themselves with the Front Populaire. In good 1848 style, Cot, Guernut and other Radicals, perched on a taxicab, were waving tricolor flags. And I remember how Daladier made a triumphal reëntry into public life (following his misfortunes of February 1934) by having his photograph taken in the Place de la Bastille, right in front of the large white panel inscribed with the Front Populaire oath.

But on July 14, 1938, there was no Daladier in the Place de la Bastille; and there was even no Léon Blum. At least I did not see him; nor was there anything in the Socialist Populaire on the following day to suggest that he had been there. Instead, there was a

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