French Government bans CGT meeting

29 Jul 1914 20:30
  • Paris
Announcement of CGT meeting

An anti-war meeting scheduled by the CGT for the evening of 29 July in Paris was banned by the Government.

The meeting was to have been held in the Salles Wagram on Avenue de Wagram in central Paris. The speakers included CGT Secretary-General Léon Jouhaux and other prominent figures.

A Government statement said: "it does not seem possible to the Government, in the present Circumstances, to tolerate a meeting where the speakers would deal with methods of  hindering mobilisation."

The ban was enforced by a heavy police presence in the surrounding area. L'Humanité (30 July) reported that the Avenue de Wagram had been completely evacuated from L'Etoile to the Place des Ternes. Adjacent streets were barred by triple cordons of police and gardes republicains (a elite paramilitary security force that subsequently fought in the war), some of them mounted.

Demonstrators nevertheless turned up, and became the target for repeated police charges. 300 people were arrested. The police requisitioned buses to transport their prisoners.

L'Humanité  called the Government's action a "challenge to the working class" and commented that it seemed strange that people in France could not demonstrate with as much freedom as people in Berlin. The paper was being a little optimistic about the situation in Berlin. The German Government was to declare a "state of siege" on the following day (31 July), effectively putting an end to organised protest there.

On the same evening as the Salles Wagram meeting (29 July), about 30 Socialist Party meetings and 20 syndicat (trade union) meetings were scheduled across Paris. Most of these appear to have been more or less routine meetings (though a meeting organised by the Comité Intersyndical in Asnières was specifically about the war ) - an indication of the support and organisational strength of the Socialist Party and the CGT.