Alsatian Workers and Peasants Party

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Alsatian Workers and Peasants Party
Elsässische Arbeiter- und Bauernpartei
Leader Charles Hueber, Jean-Pierre Mourer
Founded October 1929
Dissolved July 1939
Split from French Communist Party
Merged into Landespartei
Newspaper Die Neue Welt
Membership  (1932) 1,300
Ideology Communism, Alsatian autonomism
International affiliation International Communist Opposition (-1934)
Coalition Volksfront
French National Assembly (1932) 1
Politics of France
Political parties
Elections

The Alsatian Workers and Peasants Party (German: Elsässische Arbeiter- und Bauernpartei, French: Parti alsacien ouvrier et paysan), initially the Opposition Communist Party of Alsace-Lorraine (German: Kommunistische Partei-Opposition abbreviated KPO, French: Parti communiste d'opposition d'Alsace-Lorraine), was a political party in Alsace-Lorraine. The party was led by Jean-Pierre Mourer and Charles Hueber. The party was founded in late October 1929.[1] The party was a member of the International Communist Opposition,[2] but was expelled from the organization in 1934 and gradually moved towards pro-Nazi positions.[1]

Split from PCF[edit]

The party emerged from a split in the Alsatian federation of the French Communist Party (PCF). The split had been preceded by an unorthodox coalition in the Strasbourg municipal elections of May 1929, in which local communists had formed an alliance with clerical and autonomist forces. In a June 1929 municipal by-election, the group around Charles Hueber supported a right-wing autonomist candidate against an official PCF candidate.[1] The Strasbourg communists had also revived the newspaper Die Neue Welt (which had been closed down in 1923), as an alternative to l'Humanité d'Alsace-Lorraine. The expulsions from PCF came two weeks after the launch of Die Neue Welt.[2]

In October 1929 the expelled group around Hueber and Mourer founded the Opposition Communist Party. The new party counted with, at the time of its foundation, the mayor of Strasbourg (Charles Hueber) and were supported by the majority in the city municipal council.[1][3] Jean-Pierre Mourer represented the party in the French National Assembly, and was re-elected to the National Assembly in 1932 and 1936.[4]

The party had a difficult relationship with the PCF, and the PCF often disrupted KPO meetings.[1]

Rise of fascism[edit]

For the Alsatian KPO, the rise of fascism in Europe would complicate its political development. The party conceptualized fascism as largely synynimous to centralism, and compared the 'Italization' of South Tyrol with 'Frenchification' by the French state in Alsace. KPO also criticized German Nazism. However, during the period of 1933-1936 the group around Hueber gradually moved towards pro-Nazi positions.[1]

After the Machtübernahme in Germany, refugees belonging to the Communist Party of Germany (Opposition) (KPDO) began arriving in Alsace. The Alsatian KPO solidarized itself with the German KPDO refugees, and aided them to find jobs. Even after the KPDO foreign committee had shifted from Strasbourg to Paris, many KPDO cadres remained in Alsace and became active members of the Alsatian KPO. The editorial line of Die Neue Welt was clearly marked by the influence of KPDO refugees, who promoted more clearly anti-fascist positions. The positions of the refugees eventually clashed with the autonomist aspirations of Alsatian cadres, leading to a split in 1934. The party expelled the refugee group, and the refugee group retaliated by expelling the party from the International Communist Opposition.[1]

In September 1935 the name 'Alsatian Workers and Peasants Party' was adopted. With the change of name, autononism was confirmed as the primary ideological position of the party.[1] During this period, Die Neue Welt was frequently quoted in German media, as expressing the feelings of the Alsatian people.[5]

Die Neue Welt and Elsass-Lothringissche Zeitung (the organ of the Landespartei) were merged in April 1939.[2] In July 1939, the party merged with the Autonomist Landespartei.[1]

Membership[edit]

As of 1932, the party had around 1,300 members, primarily concentrated in Bas-Rhin. Membership would decline from then onwards, and by 1935 only a few hundred members remained.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Goodfellow, Samuel. From Communism to Nazism: The Transformation of Alsatian Communists, in Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Apr., 1992), pp. 231-258
  2. ^ a b c Hülsen, Bernhard von. Szenenwechsel im Elsass: Theater und Gesellschaft in Straßburg zwischen Deutschland und Frankreich : 1890 - 1944. Leipzig: Leipziger Univ.-Verl, 2003. pp. 170, 264
  3. ^ Callahan, Kevin J., and Sarah Ann Curtis. Views from the Margins: Creating Identities in Modern France. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008. p. 146
  4. ^ MOURER (Jean Pierre)
  5. ^ Werth, Alexander. Which Way France? Sl: Foreman Press, 2007. pp. 261-264