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Anarchist Activity in France during World War Two : Jean Rene Sauliere (alias André Arru)
Article published on 17 July 2010
last modification on 23 April 2015

by r-c.
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Following is a summary of material from the C.I.R.A., Marseille, BULLETIN No. 21/22

(Summer, 1984), which had the theme Anarchists and the Resistance.

Jean Rene Sauliere (alias Andre Arru) was one of the anarchist participants in the French resistance to the Nazis and their Vichy collaborators during World War II. He was born in Bordeaux in 1911 and became an orphan during the First World War. In early adulthood he made his living as a traveling salesman. He belonged to the Bouches-du-Rhone section of the Federation of Free Thinkers, and was elected its president. He also joined the anarchist movement and became a pacifist. Several years before the outbreak of the 1939-1945 conflict, he decided that he would never participate in any war. Like other pacifists and revolutionaries, he saw war as a solution worse than the evil it was supposed to combat. By 1939, Sauliere decided that he would not voluntarily submit to arrest for refusing to serve in the military if called. He intended to escape in order to continue the struggle as a pacifist and anarchist. This was a common attitude in the left libertarian and revolutionary syndicalist circles of the time.

In an article entitled "Reflections on Some Tall Tales," written in the late 1970s and published in issue 21/22 of the C.I.R.A. Marseille BULLETIN, Sauliere noted that the history of the French anarchist movement between 1939 and 1945 has been almost completely neglected, and when dealt with at all, has most often been distorted.

One of the examples he cited was from Jean Maitron’s HISTORY OF THE ANARCHIST MOVEMENT, Volume 2, 1914 to the Present (published in France in 1975). Maitron dispensed with the period 1940-1945 by asserting that the French anarchist movement was inactive and disorganized until 1943 because it was "leaderless" at the beginning of the war. He also asserted that some of the anarchists were "Germanophiles," others were Gaullists, and most were simply involved in individual survival during the war. But Sauliere, who was an active participant in the anarchist and anti-Fascist movement during the war, asserted that the charges that some anarchists were "Germanophiles" or Gaullists were definitely untrue. Sauliere did note that the pre-war anarchist movement was suppressed in France, after the general mobilization was declared in September of 1939. Its members were either inducted into the military, refused the draft, went into hiding, or were put under police surveillance. Louis Lecoin and a large number of other well-known anarchists wrote, signed and distributed a leaflet titled "Immediate Peace" a few days after the declaration of war, for which they were all arrested. At the same time, all anarchist literature was banned because it was basically anti-militarist and anti-war.

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