The leagues of the 1930s

The leagues of the 1930s

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  • Parade of members of "French solidarity" at the funeral of Lucien Gariel.


  • The francists.


  • Jacques Doriot in La Rochelle.


  • Parade of the Croix-de-Feu league of Colonel de La Rocque.


To close

Title: Parade of members of "French solidarity" at the funeral of Lucien Gariel.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1934

Date shown: November 3, 1934

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: "The funeral of the last victim of February 6" In Saint Philippe du Roule took place the funeral of Lucien Gariel, a young man of 16 who was injured on February 6. Many patriotic associations followed the procession. In the parade here is u

Storage place: The contemporary. Library, archives, museum of contemporary worlds website

Contact copyright: © Collections La Contemporaine, code PH C4 24

Parade of members of "French solidarity" at the funeral of Lucien Gariel.

© Collections La Contemporaine, code PH C4 24

© Contemporary Collections

Jacques Doriot in La Rochelle.

© Contemporary Collections

To close

Title: Parade of the Croix-de-Feu league of Colonel de La Rocque.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1935

Date shown: July 14, 1935

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Paris, avenue des Champs Elysées, July 14, 1935.

Storage place: Roger-Viollet collection website

Contact copyright: © Collection Roger-Violletwebsite

Parade of the Croix-de-Feu league of Colonel de La Rocque.

© Roger-Viollet Collection

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Initially less affected than that of other industrialized countries, the French economy in turn suffered in 1932 from the crisis resulting from the crash of October 1929. In fact, these organizations, of equal importance, are of a varied nature.

Image Analysis

The first photograph shows members of Solidarité Française (SF) marching to the funeral of one of their own, Lucien Gariel, injured in the riot of February 6, 1934 and who died of his wounds in November. Founded by perfumer François Coty in 1933, this league chaired by Jean Renaud has a weekly, French solidarity (then Journal of French Solidarity), never had a large force, but was nevertheless one of the most active on February 6. The most committed militants form the French Solidarity Militias, the "blue shirts" (blue shirt, boots, belt, antique salute ...).

The second photo represents some members of the Francism movement reviewed by their leaders during their first meeting. We note that the militants must wear a uniform of the military type: Basque beret, blue shirt, navy tie, harness belt ...

It was in September 1933 that Marcel Bucard and some other former collaborators of Gustave Hervé at Victory found this movement. Still non-existent on February 6, 1934, Francism would never have more than modest numbers - at least until the German occupation. In September 1935, Bucard and his friends participated in the work of the Standing Commission for the Understanding of Universal Fascism in Montreux: "The Union of Fascisms will make world peace. Bucard is received in Rome by Mussolini, his model.

The third document represents a meeting of the French People's Party (PPF), the work above all by Joseph Doriot, seen here from behind. Excluded from the Communist Party in 1934, Doriot first tried to become the leader of a national Communist formation, before being dragged out of the left when Communists and Socialists signed a pact of unity of action, prelude to the Popular Front. Elected deputy in 1936, he founded the French People's Party which, for two years, was to experience some success. The PPF fascinates intellectuals, more or less fascist in spirit, such as Ramon Fernandez, Alfred Fabre-Luce, Bertrand de Jouvenel and Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, the only one to declare himself explicitly fascist, a qualification never assumed by Doriot before the war. Widely helped by representatives of high finance, including Pierre Pucheu, and by subsidies from Mussolini Italy, the PPF has around 100,000 members and 300,000 sympathizers, of working-class and popular origin. Starting from a weekly, National emancipation, Doriot in May 1937 took control of a daily, Freedom. The activists have no uniform, only a badge. But they must salute “à la romaine” - an anti-communist gesture opposed to the raised fist of the Popular Front. A hymn: “France, free yourself! " An oath. Without counting, in all the meetings, the giant portrait of Doriot. In 1938, a serious crisis affected the PPF, funds were lacking, the Doriotist press declined, many intellectuals, starting with Drieu, resigned, Freedom ceases to appear… Doriot will have to wait for the defeat of 1940 to have his revenge.

The last photograph illustrates the presence of the Croix-de-Feu during the parade of July 14, 1935 on the Champs-Élysées, at the very moment when the forces constituting the Popular Front are gathering. Founded in 1927 by Maurice Hanot, says d'Artoy, this group aims to bring together the elite of veterans. In 1929, d'Artoy, to extend the influence of his action, founded the Association des Briscards, open to those who had spent at least six months on the front line. The two associations have the same press organ: The torch. At the end of 1929, Lieutenant-Colonel de La Rocque joined the movement and took the lead in 1931. Former Saint-Cyr, who served in Morocco under Lyautey, fervent Catholic, good organizer, La Rocque undertook a recruitment policy effective. In 1932, he founded the Sons and Daughters of the Croix-de-Feu, and, above all, in 1933, the League of National Volunteers, open to all. In March 1934, La Rocque claimed a total workforce of 50,000.

The Croix-de-Feu played a very special role on February 6, 1934: while participating in the demonstrations, they refused to go beyond the legal framework and refrain from forcing the police roadblocks protecting the Palais-Bourbon. Subsequently, they became a mass movement, the strength of which was estimated at 150,000 people in mid-1934. For the Popular Front in formation, the League of La Rocque represents French fascism par excellence. The mystique of the leader (defended by the most prestigious of its members, the aviator Mermoz), the paramilitary organization of the "Dispos" (members available for the service of order), the military organization of the troops, large gatherings , a number of bloody clashes with leftist militants, lend themselves to the denunciation of fascism. It is above all in terms of numbers that François de La Rocque's league appears as the designated enemy of the Popular Front: on the eve of the 1936 elections, its members are estimated at 450,000. The movement, however, is not led by a follower of Mussolini or Hitler. Imbued with social Catholicism and military discipline, La Rocque preaches the reestablishment of morality, national mutual aid, while blaming parliamentarism and collectivism.


Through the leagues, resurfaces the attempt to bring down a parliamentary democracy considered responsible for the French decline. The middle classes, whose traditional allegiances (unions, Church, parties) are weakening, are more particularly seduced. However the leagues assimilated to fascist movements, French solidarity and Francism, remain small groups limited to a few thousand people, even a few hundred. Despite its cult of the leader, the call to the dead, its taste for ceremonial, the PPF itself remains a pacifist movement, which distinguishes it from Italian fascism, aggressive and belligerent. The only far-right mass movement in France during the interwar period was that of the Croix-de-Feu, whose leader, La Rocque, never broke free from republican legality. However, it was largely against this movement, considered to be fascist, that the Popular Front was formed in 1935.

  • February 6, 1934
  • fascism
  • nationalism
  • Third Republic
  • Champs Elysees


BERSTEIN Serge, France in the 1930s, Paris, Armand Colin, new. ed. 2001.

WINOCK Michel, Nationalism, fascism and anti-Semitism in France, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points: History", 1990.

WINOCK Michel, History of the far right in France, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points: History", 1994.

To cite this article

Michel WINOCK, "The leagues of the 1930s"

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