February 6, 1934

February 6, 1934

  • February 6, 1934. Clashes between the demonstrators and the police.

    ANONYMOUS

  • February 6, 1934. The demonstrators ransack a bus.

    ANONYMOUS

  • February 6, 1934. Demonstrators attack an automobile.

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Title: February 6, 1934. Clashes between the demonstrators and the police.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1934

Date shown: February 06, 1934

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Photographic print

Storage location: Illustration

Contact copyright: © The illustration - rights reserved

February 6, 1934. Clashes between the demonstrators and the police.

© The illustration - rights reserved

To close

Title: February 6, 1934. The demonstrators ransack a bus.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1934

Date shown: February 06, 1934

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Photographic print

Storage location: Eyedea - Keystone website

Contact copyright: © Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency"

Picture reference: K002870

February 6, 1934. Demonstrators wreck a bus.

© Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency"

To close

Title: February 6, 1934. Demonstrators attack an automobile.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1934

Date shown: 06 February 1934

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Photographic print

Storage location: Eyedea - Keystone website

Contact copyright: © Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency"

Picture reference: K032022

February 6, 1934. Demonstrators attack an automobile.

© Keystone / Eyedea - "reproduction and exploitation prohibited without prior written agreement from the agency"

Publication date: September 2005

Historical context

Since the end of the First World War, the parliamentary regime of the IIIe République has come under increasing criticism, targeting both its institutional dysfunctions and its inability to deal with emerging economic problems. In 1932, the radicals in power seemed more than ever buried in their native contradiction: ideologically "left", sensitivity reinforced by their vital alliance with the socialists, they only intended to practice an economic policy of financial orthodoxy - strong currency , control of deficits - which alienates them these same socialists at the same time as a growing part of the opinion. Exasperated by this chronic ministerial instability - five ministries from 1932 to 1934! -, a large part of French society agrees in denouncing the incapacity of its leaders, the crisis of the parliamentary system and the need to restore strong power. The expression of this discontent is maintained by the active opposition of the extreme right to the regime - the French Action League of Charles Maurras enjoys great influence despite its condemnation by the Vatican in 1926 -, soon relayed by the veterans' leagues: Jeunesses patriotes, Camelots du Roi and especially Croix-de-Feu of Colonel de La Rocque, which have recently been transformed into a real political formation. To this critical situation is added a politico-financial scandal which completes the discrediting of the regime.

Image Analysis

The Stavisky scandal, named after a Jewish swindler who enjoyed parliamentary support, erupted in early January 1934 and dealt the final blow to the Radical Republic. An extremely violent press campaign was launched by the extreme right, led by the French Action League, against the radical cabinet in power and the “checkers” of Parliament: demonstrations and violent street scenes accompanied by acts of vandalism took place. multiply throughout the month of January. The right-wing press campaign, which immediately rallied the leagues, is also gradually bringing together all of the right-wing newspapers. On January 27, following a particularly violent demonstration, Council President Chautemps resigned. He is replaced by the radical Daladier who decides to dismiss the Paris police chief, Chiappe, known for his indulgence towards far-right disruptors.

Immediately, the most powerful protest organizations called for a large protest demonstration scheduled for February 6, the day of the presentation by Daladier of his government to the Chamber of Deputies. The demonstration, led by different leagues - Action française, Solidarité française, Jeunesses patriotes, Croix-de-Feu, National Union of Fighters, etc. - converges from various points in Paris towards Place de la Concorde and the Chamber of Deputies, and turns very quickly to riot. Some are calling for the House to be stormed as the resignation of Daladier and his government soon emerges as the main demand of the protesters. The violence of the actions depends largely on the formations whose objectives are different: thus the attack on the roadblock of the Republican Guards erected in front of the Chamber of Deputies, in particular by French Solidarity, immediately leads to the death of several people while the Crosses -de-Feu agree to fall back in good order after marching. However, the acts of vandalism perpetrated throughout the month are multiplied here as shown by the photographs: looting and burning of a bus, attack on police roadblocks, barricades, broken pipes, attacks on cars evacuating the wounded from the ministry. of the Navy. While law enforcement officials finally managed to contain the riot, the toll was heavy: there were 15 dead and nearly 1,500 injured. The next day, February 7, Daladier, let loose by his radical colleagues, submits his resignation to the Elysee Palace. A government of national unity is formed soon after, in which the leaders of the right enter: the street and the press have won out over the legitimate government of the Republic.

Interpretation

Interpretations of the crisis of February 6, 1934 differed widely depending on the political affiliation of its translators. For the left, it was nothing less than an attempted fascist coup d'etat, not a broader sanction for its inability to reform and rule. The awareness of the left - of the lefts, rather -, even the dramatization of the danger embodied by the extreme right, will certainly have played a role in the formation two years later of the union of the lefts within the Popular Front, as well as in the theorization and development of the anti-fascist theme. However, an examination of the facts, in particular the lack of preparation and the chaotic nature of the various demonstrations, invalidates the existence of an organized plot to seize power: the most determined demonstrators - Action française, Solidarité française, Jeunesses patriots - will have been in the minority, the most numerous like the Croix-de-Feu being satisfied with a show of force.

Moreover, we must not forget that the Communists participated in the demonstrations and that Daladier's resignation was more the consequence of his abandonment by the radicals than of the riots themselves. It also seems excessive to see in this day the paroxysmal expression of a real French fascism that had until then been contained: the extreme right was at the beginning of the 1930s very marginal in France, and it remained an essentially Parisian phenomenon, as evidenced by it. negative reactions from provincial veterans following February 6, 1934.
Once stripped of its political readings, this historic day finally appears as the expression of the definitive rejection of the radical system of government and the violent sanction of the immobility of political institutions. The days of subtle alliances and electoral combinations against a backdrop of government immobility are over: the times and the streets demand more efficiency, more executive, more authority. This underlying trend is the bedrock of the "binary polarization" that will characterize French politics from now on until the Second World War.

  • February 6, 1934
  • anti-parliamentarianism
  • demonstrations
  • Palais-Bourbon
  • Paris
  • police
  • Third Republic
  • French action
  • Daladier (Edouard)
  • Maurras (Charles)
  • vandalism

Bibliography

Michel WINOCK, Hexagonal Feverreprint Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1987.Michel WINOCK (dir.), History of the far right in France, Paris, Le Seuil, 1993.Serge BERSTEIN, February 6, 1934, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Archives", 1975.Dominique BORNE and Henri DUBIEF, The Depression of the 1930s: 1929-1938, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1989.

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Hermine VIDEAU, "February 6, 1934"


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