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(en) France, UCL AL #312 - Special file Paris 1871, March 18-May 28: from the rising revolt to the ultimate barricade (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 13 Mar 2021 11:01:08 +0200


The Paris Commune will have lived nine weeks. Enough to launch ideas and decrees, but not really to implement them. During this time, the people of Versailles were only concerned with deploying an army to reconquer the capital ... ---- February 1871, the national guard becomes independent. A week after the Franco-German armistice, legislative elections were called and gave a large majority (62%) to the monarchists, and a minority (35%) to the republicans. Installed in Versailles, the Assembly is however united in its desire to restore order in Paris, and for this designates the reactionary chameleon Adolphe Thiers head of government. Shortly after, the Parisian battalions of the National Guard became independent, federated and elected a central committee.

Paris versus Versailles
March 18, insurrection. To disarm Paris, Thiers ordered the seizure of its cannons paid for by popular subscription. It's the spark in the powder keg. The Parisian people came running, surrounded the troop which had come to seize the cannons, and the latter ended up fraternizing. Barricades are erected, Generals Lecomte and Clément-Thomas are shot.

March 19-25, the central committee of the national guard at the helm. The most revolutionary delegates want to march immediately on Versailles. But the easy victory of March 18 pushes the majority to reorganize the life of the city as a priority. Municipal elections are therefore announced. The rich districts protest but, on March 22, the National Guard breaks a conservative demonstration in blood. The bourgeoisie will henceforth content itself with hiding while awaiting the army of Versailles. From March 21, the latter seized the strategic fort of Mont-Valérien.

Outline of a program
March 26-28, Election of the Council of the Municipality . The March 26 ballot took place peacefully. Out of 92 elected, 16 conservatives elected in the middle-class neighborhoods will quickly resign. For the rest, Republicans and Socialists are largely in the majority, and among them a good number of activists from the International Association of Workers (AIT), Blanquists and neojacobins. But, since the insurrection, ten days have been lost, while in Versailles the government sets up an operational army.

On March 28, the result of the municipal elections was announced: unlike the Assembly sitting in Versailles, the Council of the Commune was mainly made up of Socialists and Republicans who were remembered by 1793.
Lix / BNF
March 29, creation of specialized committees. Within the Council of the Municipality, nine commissions are created (general security, justice, defense, finances, subsistence, work-industry-exchange, public services, education, external relations). But they lack coordination, and elected officials are overwhelmed. Despite the cacophony, advanced measures outline a revolutionary, socialist and democratic program. The same day, the Municipality canceled the rents from October 1870 to April 1871.

April 2, separation of Church and State. Thirty-four years before the III eRepublic it solves a decree repeals the budget of worship. The same day, the Versailles troops drive out the Communards from Courbevoie.

April 3-4, failure of the attack on Versailles. An exit is clumsily attempted to attack Versailles . But, bombarded from Mont-Valérien, the federates were crushed in Rueil by General Boulanger. Flourens, elected commander of the national guard, is killed.

Nathalie Lemel (1826-1921)
This bookbinder worker was an activist of the AIT and a major figure in the Municipality: speaker in popular clubs, barricadière Place Pigalle, she was deported to New Caledonia with Louise Michel.
April 11, creation of the Women's Union. The Women's Union for the Defense of Paris and the Care of the Wounded was created by Nathalie Lemel, a bookbinding worker, trade unionist and socialist, and Élisabeth Dmitrieff, a Russian intellectual close to Marx. The movement demands equal pay, the right to vote for women, etc.

April 16, decree on vacant workshops. The Labor-Industry-Exchange Commission, made up of revolutionary socialists, decreed that the workshops abandoned by the employers who had fled Paris could be entrusted to workers' cooperatives, in a logic of self-management.

April 21, creation of a secular and free school. The teaching commission is working on the project of a secular school, expunged from clericalism, and free. The mayors of the 3 th , 10 th and 20 thdistricts are advanced to implement these proposals, excluding religious education, paying for school supplies, etc.

Eugène Varlin (1839-1871)
This bookbinder worker, very appreciated humanly, correspondent with Bakounine, was one of the organizers of the Parisian AIT. He was assassinated by the people of Versailles on May 28, 1871.
April 28, creation of a Committee of Public Safety. Thinking of resolving the administrative disorder, the Council of the Municipality voted for the creation, as in 1793, of a "Committee of Public Safety" of 5 members, holder of "extended powers" . A minority of elected officials, many from the AIT, denounce a backward-looking illusion which "willnot add any strength to the Municipality" .

May 9, the federates lost Fort Issy. After two weeks of fighting, the Versailles people blew up the main lock on the Paris road. The army is now encamped on the outskirts of the southwestern ramparts of the capital.

May 16, the Vendôme column is shot down. It was a militaristic and nationalist symbol of the Napoleonic wars.

May 15-21, split of the anti-authoritarian minority. Twenty-two elected officials co-sign a manifesto against the "dictatorship" of the Committee of Public Safety, and cease to sit. This resignation was badly perceived by the population, and the splitters returned to the council six days later.

The bloody week
May 21, entry of Versailles into Paris. Warned by an inhabitant hostile to the Municipality that the rampart, due to negligence, was not defended, the Versailles army entered the capital through the Porte Saint-Cloud. After forty-eight hours it occupies the rich 15 th and 16 thdistricts, while the Federated fold spontaneously to "their" neighborhoods, in the popular East. The Municipality holds its final council.

May 23, capture of the Butte Montmartre. This stronghold fell without much resistance. Dombrowski, one of the best officers in the Commune, is killed on a barricade in rue Myrrha. Each district is preparing a desperate defense, with the idea of selling its skin dearly.

May 24, the big fires. To slow down the enemy, the Communards blow up the powder keg of Luxembourg, set fire to the town hall, the prefecture and the courthouse. The Versailles people executed the prisoners en masse, and the wounded in hospitals.

May 25, fall of the Butte aux Cailles. After three days of resistance, Wroblewski evacuates last pocket of resistance of 13 thdistrict with a thousand fighters. In the confusion of an imminent defeat, several dozen hostages from Versailles were executed.

May 27-28, death of the Commune. The last square fights in Belleville, Ménilmontant and in the Père-Lachaise cemetery. The captives are shot along what will become "the wall of the federates". In total, 12,000 to 30,000 people will be assassinated for having led this popular revolution with socialist and self-management overtones.

Adèle (UCL Pantin)

Illustration: "Retour du bastion", taken from Bertall, Les Communeux. Types, characters, costumes, Plon, 1880.

https://www.unioncommunistelibertaire.org/?18-mars-28-mai-de-la-revolte-montante-a-l-ultime-barricade
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