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/On ne passe 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 Mărăşeşti (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.[1]

The phrase was used again in December 1943 by French-Canadian officer Paul Triquet of the Royal 22e Regiment at Casa Berardi, in an action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. 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. In last quarter of 2009, it has been used in the political propaganda of Estonia by the Estonian Centre Party.

In March 2010, the phrase "No pasarán!" was used by the anti-fascist group Unite Against Fascism at a rally against the English Defence League in Bolton.

In February 2011, "No pasarán!" was used by leftist demonstrators blockading a street in Dresden to stop a neo-Nazi march.

In August 2012 during the trial of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot group member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova wore a t-shirt with the slogan "¡NO PASARÁN!" written across the front.[2]

Literary use[edit]

As veteran of World War I, the French poet and founder of Surrealism, André Breton, used the slogan as part of a poem called "Rano Raraku", include in his collected Poèmes (1916-1948), published on 1948.[3]

Jan Drda in his Silent Barricade (1949), the last short story called as the same as the book, uses the term "NO PASSARAN" while three men are defending the last barricade in Prague during the uprising against the Wehrmacht in World War II.

In J.R.R. Tolkien's novel The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of The Lord of the Rings, the wizard Gandalf declares repeatedly, "You cannot pass!" when he blocks the pursuing demon called a Balrog. Tolkien was a World War I veteran.[4] In the 2001 film, Gandalf first says, "You cannot pass", and, a moment later, shouts, "You shall not pass!" while striking his staff upon the ground.

As a result of their socialist and anti-fascist affiliations, the slogan has been widely adopted by supporters of Celtic F.C..[citation needed] The leftist supporters group for the Turkish football team Fenerbahçe, Vamos Bien, also uses this slogan.


The phrase was also used by the socialist Sandinistas in Nicaragua during the civil war, where the U.S.-backed Contra guerrillas tried to overthrow their left-leaning revolutionary Government. The expression used in this context was immortalized in the Carlos Mejía Godoy song ¡No Pasarán![citation needed]

Earlier uses[edit]

An earlier variant of the famous phrase is found in an 1897 book called His Grace of Osmund by Francis Hodgson Burnett, [Charles Scribner's Sons], "I wait here like a brigand," he said to himself with a harsh laugh, "or a highwayman – but he shall not pass." (Chapter XXI)[citation needed]


No Pasaran was featured on Riotology A Album from melodeath band Artas.

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. ^ Elder, Miriam (2012-08-08). "Pussy Riot trial: closing statement denounces Putin's 'totalitarian system'". The Guardian (London). 
  3. ^ Breton, André (2003). André Breton Selections. University of California Press. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-520-23954-8. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  4. ^ Calisuri and Corvar (1916-07-01). "Special Guest | JRR Tolkien and World War I". Retrieved 2012-06-21.