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FTR #956 The National Front and French Deep Politics, Part 1

With the French elections headed toward a second round, there is renewed scrutiny on the National Front and its titular head Marine Le Pen, who finished second in the race. Networked with various figures ranging from the milieu of Donald Trump to that of Turkish president Erdogan, the National Front and the Le Pens (father Jean-Marie and daughter Marine) are carrying on the fascist tradition in France.

Key elements of discussion include:

1. The prominent role of Nazi collaborators and French SS in the formation of the National Front: “. . . . Ex-wartime Nazi collaborators were prominent in the early leadership of the National Front in the 1970s–including members of the French SS and collaborationist Milice, and even a leading official of the French wartime anti-Jewish agency, a minor cog in the Holocaust. . . .”

2. In the context of Le Pen’s kind words from “Team Trump,” we noted that, in FTR #951 Trump confidant and advisor Steve Bannon has been influenced by Charles Maurras, part of the French fascist Fifth Column that subverted French resistance to the Third Reich’s armies.

3. Ms. Le Pen denied French complicity in the Vel D’Hiv roundup, directed by Rene Bousquet. ” . . . . . . . . On 2 July 1942, Bousquet and [SS] Carl Oberg [in charge of the French Police] prepared the arrests known as the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv). Bousquet personally canceled orders protecting some categories of people from arrests, notably children under 18 and parents with children under 5. After the arrests, some bishops and cardinals protested; Bousquet threatened to cancel tax privileges for Catholic schools. . . .”

4. Bousquet was held in high regard by Heinrich Himmler: ” . . . . In April 1943, Bousquet met with Heinrich Himmler. Himmler declared himself ‘impressed by Bousquet’s personality’, mentioning him as a ‘precious collaborator in the framework of police collaboration’. . . .”

5. Aides of Ms. Le Pen manifest affinity for the Third Reich. “. . . . ‘They [Le Pen aides Frederic Chatillon, and Axel Loustau] have remained National Socialist,’ said Aymeric Chauprade, once Ms. Le Pen’s principal adviser on foreign affairs. . . . ‘The only debatable point, in the use of the term ‘neo-Nazi,’ is the wrongful qualifier ‘neo,’ the affidavit states. . . . . . . . French television recently broadcast video from the 1990s of Mr. Loustau visiting an aging prominent former SS member, Léon Degrelle, a decorated warrior for Hitler and the founder of the Belgian Rex party, a prewar fascist movement. Other video showed Mr. Chatillon speaking warmly of his own visit with Mr. Degrelle, who was a patron saint of Europe’s far-right youths until his death in 1994. . . .”

6. Of considerable importance in the context of the coverage of the Nazi influences of the National Front is the fact that the post-war perpetuation of French fascism extends far beyond the Le Pen milieu. Mainstream, even “socialist” French politicians such as Francois Mitterand are bounded by definitive links with figures from the Vichy collaborationist government. “. . . . An example is his membership of the Volontaires Nationaux (National Volunteers), an organization related to François de la Rocque’s far-right league, the Croix de Feu, for one to three years, depending on the source.[2] On 1 February 1935, Mitterrand joined the Action française march, more commonly known as ‘l’invasion métèque’, to demonstrate against foreign doctors setting up in France with cries of ‘La France aux Français’. [This is similar to the theme of the National Front!–D.E.] There are two photos that show Mitterrand facing a police line,[3] published in Les Camelots du Roi by Maurice Pujo.[4] . . . .”

7. Mitterand’s fascist activities extended to opposition to supporters of Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who resisted Mussolini’s takeover of his country: ” . . . . During the winter of 1936, François Mitterrand took part in action against Gaston Jèze. Between January and March 1936, the nationalist right and the Action française, campaigned for Jèze’s resignation.because he acted as a counsellor for Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, after he was driven from Addis Ababa by Mussolini’s troops during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. . . .”

8. Perhaps most important for our purposes concerns Mitterand’s postwar relationship with Bousquet, who financed Mitterand’s political career and did so for other left-wing French politicians. “. . . The most damming of all charges against Mitterrand and his right wing connections is probably his long lasting friendship with René Bousquet, ex secrétaire général of the Vichy police. Charles de Gaulle said of Mitterrand and Bousquet ‘they are ghosts who come from the deepest depths of the collaboration.'[24] . . . . In 1974, René Bousquet gave financial help to François Mitterrand for his presidential campaign against Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. In an interview with Pierre Favier et Michel Martin-Roland Mitterrand claimed that he was not the only left wing politician to benefit from Bousquet’s money, as René Bousquet helped finance all the principal left wing politicians from the 1950s to the beginning of the 1970s, including Pierre Mendès France. . . .”

Program Highlights Include: Review of the French fascist Fifth Column that subverted the French military resistance to Hitler; discussion of the Cagoulard plot to overthrow the social front of Leon Blum; noting the concentration of economic ownership in prewar France and how that generated support for the Social Front of Leon Blum.