Marx Dormoy

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Marx Dormoy in 1932

René Marx Dormoy (1 August 1888—26 July 1941) was a French socialist politician, noted for his opposition to the far right. Under his leadership as Minister of the Interior in the government of Léon Blum, the French police infiltrated La Cagoule, which was planning the overthrow of the French Third Republic, led by the Popular Front government. Dormoy directed the arrest and imprisonment of 70 cagoulards in November 1937. The police recovered 2 tons of armaments from their sites.

After the Occupation of France, Dormoy as a representative refused to approve providing full powers to Marshal Philippe Petain and the Vichy government. He was arrested in 1940 and interned in house arrest in Montelimar. He was assassinated there in July 1941 by a bomb set off at his house. It was believed to be the work of La Cagoule terrorists.


Early career[edit]

Born in Montluçon, René Marx Dormoy (called Marx) attended local schools and became active in politics. He was elected mayor of his native town in 1926. He was elected in 1931 as representative of the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (SFIO, the Socialist Party of today) to the French National Assembly from the Allier département.

Popular Front[edit]

A member of the Popular Front's government, cabinet secretary to Léon Blum, he played a part in negotiating the Matignon Accords. From 1936 to 1938 he was Minister of the Interior (replacing Roger Salengro). He worked to suppress violent far right groups such as the Cagoule. He used his authority to depose Jacques Doriot, mayor of Saint-Denis, arguing that the Saint-Denis commune had become the site of anti-republican agitation. He opposed illegal immigration of Eastern European political refugees to France.

On 16 March 1937, Dormoy provoked a crisis inside the Popular Front. The French Police opened fire on a crowd protesting against a Croix-de-Feu rally in Clichy, after the event had degenerated into disorder. Dormoy was subsequently attacked by Trotskyist groups and by Maurice Thorez, the leader of the French Communist Party, who held him responsible for the casualties, as Dormoy had initially authorised the Croix-de-Feu to march in the city. Dormoy was backed by Léon Blum, and a motion of confidence was passed in the Parliament on 23 March.

In November 1937, Dormoy ordered the arrest of 70 members of La Cagoule after the police infiltrated the far-right organization. It had been planning the violent overthrow of the government that month and the installation of a fascist government. The French police seized 2 tons of high explosives, several anti-tank or anti-aircraft guns, 500 machine guns, 65 submachine guns, 134 rifles and 17 sawed-off shotguns.[1]

In 1938, as an SFIO senator for Allier, Dormoy spoke out against the Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany.

Imprisonment and death[edit]

Two years later, after the Fall of France, he was one of the minority of parliamentarians who refused to grant full powers to Marshal Philippe Pétain. Pétain's Vichy France regime had him suspended from his office as mayor on 20 September 1940, and arrested five days later. Dormoy was imprisoned in Pellevoisin, then in Vals-les-Bains, before being placed under house arrest in Montélimar.

He was killed in July 1941 by a bomb that exploded at his house; it was believed to have been placed by Cagoule terrorists. This was believed to be reprisal for his suppression of the group in 1937.[2]

Marx Dormoy was given a solemn funeral in his birthplace of Montluçon.

Legacy and honors[edit]

Monument to Marx Dormoy in Montluçon.


  1. ^ Time Magazine "Terrible Gravity", 29 November 1937
  2. ^ Time Magazine "Death by bomb", 4 August 1941

External links[edit]

Media related to Marx Dormoy at Wikimedia Commons