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: 'On ne passe pas'; Spanish: '¡No pasarán!') is a slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. "On ne passe pas" literally means "one does not pass"; this a common French idiom to express interdiction.

It was most famously used during the Battle of Verdun in the First World War 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 nosotros pasaremos (we will pass) to indicate that communists rather than fascists will be the ones to seize state power.[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; his action included his use of Petain's phrase "to win a key objective at Ortona, Italy, in the face of overwhelming German opposition."[2]

In the 1980s, the phrase ¡No pasarán! was a theme in the civil wars in Central America, particularly in Nicaragua.[3] Nicaragua No Pasaran is also the title of a 1984 documentary by David Bradbury about the events in Nicaragua that led to the overthrow of Somoza's dictatorship.[4][5][6]

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. ^ "French Canadian Wins Victoria Cross", Ottawa Citizen article, March 6, 1944, accessed online 15 Sep 2014 via google at,785365
  3. ^ Kunzle, David (1995). The Murals of Revolutionary Nicaragua, 1979-1992. University of California Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780520081925. 
  4. ^ Kallen, Stuart A. (2009). The Aftermath of the Sandinista Revolution. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 152. ISBN 9780822590910. 
  5. ^ "Nicaragua: No Pasaran". Frontline Films. Retrieved 30 June 2015. 
  6. ^ FitzSimons, Trish; Laughren, Pat; Williamson, Dugald (2011). Australian Documentary: History, Practices and Genres. Cambridge University Press. p. 267. ISBN 9780521167994.