They shall not pass

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On Ne Passe Pas!
Propaganda poster by Maurice Neumont
On Ne Passe Pas! on a French medal commemorating the battle of Verdun
In Madrid. 1937
Tomb of the unknown soldier at the Mausoleum of Mărăşeşti with the inscription "Pe aici nu se trece" ("They Shall Not Pass")

"They shall not pass" (French: 'Ils ne passeront pas'; Spanish: '¡No pasarán!') is a slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy.

It was most famously used during the Battle of Verdun in World War I by French General Robert Nivelle. It appears on propaganda posters, such as that by Maurice Neumont after the Second Battle of the Marne, which was later adopted on uniform badges by units manning the Maginot Line. Later during the war, it also was used by Romanian soldiers during the Battle of Mărășești (the Romanian translation of the phrase is "Pe aici nu se trece").

It was also used during the Spanish Civil War, this time at the Siege of Madrid by Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, a member of the Communist Party of Spain, in her famous "No Pasarán" speech on 18 July 1936. The leader of the nationalist forces, Generalísimo Francisco Franco, upon gaining Madrid, responded to this slogan with "Hemos pasado" ("We have passed").

"¡No pasarán!" was used by British anti-fascists during the October 1936 Battle of Cable Street, and is still used in this context in some political circles. It was often accompanied by the words pasaremos (we will pass) to indicate that communists rather than fascists will be the ones to seize state power.[disambiguation needed][1]

The phrase was brought to the public consciousness again following action in December 1943 by French-Canadian officer Paul Triquet of the Royal 22e Regiment. Major Triquet led a successful action at Casa Berardi for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.[2] Public reporting on the action included his use of the phrase used at Verdun to rally his men.[3]

The phrase was again used in December 2002 by Colonel Emmanuel Maurin, commanding a French Foreign Legion unit in the Ivory Coast; without communist or far left connotations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Audrey Gillan (2006-10-02). "Day the East End said 'No pasaran' to Blackshirts | UK news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  2. ^ Nicholson, Gerald Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Volume II - The Canaidians in Italy
  3. ^ The Ottawa Citizen reported for example that "The 35-year old French-Canadian soldier used Marshal Petain's famous Verdun slogan "They shall not pass," to win a key objective at Ortona, Italy, in the face of overwhelming German opposition." "French Canadian Wins Victoria Cross", Ottawa Citizen article, March 6 1944, accessed online 15 Sep 2014 via google at,785365