The Troika

The Troika


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© Contemporary Collections

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

This cartoon is taken from Gringoire, an extreme right-wing weekly (1928-1944) dominated by its columnist, Henri Béraud. Principal cartoonist of Gringoire, Roger Roy (who started in the left-wing press) has held it for two years. The pencil lines are underlined with India ink, and the contrasts are assured by a few black flat spots.

The cartoon was published about four weeks after the grandiose Paris day of July 14, 1935, when the forty organizations forming the Popular Rally sealed their alliance and swore to “defend democratic freedoms” threatened by factious leagues. From then on, the Popular Front, led by the three major left parties (SFIO, PCF, radical party), was on the march for the legislative elections scheduled for May 1936.

Image Analysis

Roger Roy shows Stalin (in Bolshevik uniform, in boots, wearing a cap marked with the red star) leading, a whip in hand, a troika pulled by three personalities of the Popular Front transformed into horses (zoomorphism is sometimes still used in the caricature of the time to ridicule his victim). From top to bottom: the radical Edouard Daladier, the communist Marcel Cachin, the socialist Léon Blum, while at the back the other great radical, Edouard Herriot (identifiable by his famous pipe), tries in vain to catch up with the sledge which gets carried away. For a Frenchman in 1935, the troika evokes Russian folklore, but also the succession of Lenin (Stalin had managed to get rid of the two other members of the antitrotskyist "troika", Zinoviev and Kamenev).

Interpretation

Roy attacks familiar figures in the audience. So he chooses Cachin, the director of Humanity, a historic communist, preferably Thorez, less known at the time (he had led the PCF since 1931), and Blum, leader of the Socialist parliamentary group in the House, but not of the party. Daladier does not lead the radical party either. But, for the far right, the former president of the Council is the "fusilleur of February 6, 1934"; and then, unlike the true radical leader, Herriot, he clearly sided with the Popular Front. Herriot, for his part, only rallied late and sluggishly, which cost him the presidency of the radical party (Daladier succeeded him in January 1935).

The idea that the Popular Front, an agent of Stalin, was the bedrock of Soviet communism is only in its infancy. A touchstone of ever more violent far-right propaganda, it swelled after June 1936, when Blum was in Matignon. Stalin will thus populate the caricatures of Gringoire. At the time of Munich (1938), anti-communism even explained the rallying of a hitherto nationalist and Germanophobic far right to the pacifist solutions of Hitler's Europe ("Rather Hitler than the Popular Front and Stalin").

  • caricature
  • deputies
  • Popular Front
  • Blum (Leon)
  • socialism
  • Stalin (Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, said)
  • Third Republic
  • anticommunism
  • Daladier (Edouard)
  • Herriot (Edouard)
  • PCF
  • hurry
  • SFIO
  • Kamenev (Lev Borissovich)
  • Zinoviev (Grigori)

Bibliography

Serge BERSTEIN, France in the 1930s, Paris, Armand Colin, coll. "Cursus", 1988.Dominique BORNE and Henri DUBIEF, The crisis of the 1930s (1929-1938), Paris, Seuil coll. "Points-Histoire", 1989.Christian DELPORTE, The propaganda pencils, Paris, CNRS-Editions, 1993.J. LETHÈVE, Caricature under the Third Republic, Paris, Armand Colin, 1961, reissued 1986.

To cite this article

Christian DELPORTE, "The troika"


Video: Troika