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Resistance and antiracism

Created in May 1941 on the initiative of Resistance members of the Franc-Tireurs et Partisans – Main d’œuvre Immigrée (FTP-MOI), the Mouvement national contre le racisme (National Movement Against Racism, MNCR) established a direct link, rare at the time, between the ideology and practices of Nazi Germany in Vichy France and the issue of racism.


The members of this movement denounced the “scientific lie” promoted by ideologists of the “pure race”, and emphasised the “moral monstrosity” inherent to those ideas. The movement clearly stated that persecution of Jews was a “racist crime” that cannot go unpunished. Most of its members were intellectuals or journalists, including René Cassin, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, André Mandouze, André Wurmser, Paul Langevin, Abbé Alexandre Glasberg and the poet Tristan Tzara.


When the racist persecutions intensified in France in 1942, the MNCR tried to bring together Jewish and non-Jewish resistance fighters to carry out humanitarian and solidarity actions in favour of the victims of barbarism: hiding children, organising escapes and clandestine border crossings, forging false documents. The MNCR worked with the Union des Juifs pour la Resistance et l’Entraide (Union of Jews for Resistance and Mutual Aid, UJRE) and printed two clandestine newspapers, believing that spreading information was a crucial way of resistance: “J’Accuse” (I accuse) and “Fraternité” (Brotherhood). In this way, the MNCR laid the foundations for the fight against racism, with the ambition, in view of future societies, of “eradicating the spirit of racism forever” by “fostering a spirit of harmony and understanding”.


After the liberation of Paris, this movement, with an office on the avenue des Champs Élysées, worked towards an “anti-racist alliance” that would bring together activists from all walks of life, including the Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, LICRA, created in 1927). But political differences prevented this project from seeing the light of day and, in 1949, the members of the MNCR created the Mouvement contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme et pour la Paix (Movement against Racism and Anti-Semitism and Peace, MRAP), which had strong links with the Communist Party and which played an important role in the fight against racism in France at the end of the 20th century and still exists today.


Yvan Gastaut

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