France in the 1930’s Part V
Meanwhile, the French government concluded a non-aggression pact with the USSR (November 29) and on the other hand agreed to recognize, with the Italian-Franco-English declaration of Geneva (December 11), an “equal rights in a regime involving security for all nations “to Germany, which was therefore part of the disarmament conference. Furthermore, Herriot (November) affirmed his will to improve France’s relations with Italy, and also sought a rapprochement with Spain. However, on the eve of the expiry of an installment of the debt to the United States, which the latter had allowed to extend, Herriot, proposing to pay it conditionally, found himself overthrown by the sudden union of right-wing groups with the socialists and communists. But the nation was troubled for other reasons: the general economic hardship had been joined by serious disruptions caused by fraud (it will suffice to recall the famous Madame Hanau) and scandals due to the discovery of illegal actions carried out by officers and politicians (“business”) of the Company. Aéropostale and tax frauds, in November 1932). From various quarters the existence, alongside the economic one, of a much more serious moral and political crisis. Fundamental problem, however, that of the budget: to make up for the deficit, it was beginning to prove necessary to cut expenses, by decreasing the number and checks of employees, and by increasing revenues. Hence complaints and demonstrations hostile to the government, including by the trade unions of officials. Regarding the budget, the socialists presented a project of their own, with proposals that the parliamentary finance commission partially accepted. The task of having the budget approved (with considerable reductions in expenses) thus passed to the Daladier ministry, to which the socialists agreed, not collaboration, but support, on condition, however, that “a rude and decisive battle against the forces of money and reaction”. And precisely with regard to this support for Daladier, the split of the socialists took place in May, at the party congress in Avignon: most remained with L. Blum, uncompromising; others followed Renaudel, who, also disapproved of by the August International Socialist Congress, ended up forming a party on his own (Socialistes de France). Meanwhile, unemployment remained severe, foreign trade was still contracting. However, France remained faithful to the principle of the stability of the currency on a gold basis, a principle which she also supported, against England and the United States, at the World Economic Conference in London (12 June-27 July 1933). Meanwhile, after delicate diplomatic negotiations, it seemed that peace and the recognition of the legitimate aspirations of each country were ensured to Europe by means of the “Pact of four” (France, Germany, England, Italy) concluded in Rome on 7 June 1933. But soon the need for the Anschluss arose again and Germany to leave the League of Nations. The internal and international situation made it all the more urgent and necessary to provide for the balance of the budget, outillage national. In addition to the national lottery, the Daladier proposed reductions in checks and salaries, and was overturned. The Sarraut ministry, which succeeded him, did not last even a month. C. Chautemps composed another radical ministry, which tried to provide for the financial situation, but which soon fell, morally shaken by new financial scandals: the most serious of all the Stawisky affair “, which began with the discovery, in December 1933, of the issue, by a pawnshop (the Crédit municipal di Baiona), counterfeit cash vouchers, then discounted at credit institutions and insurance companies. Magistrates, politicians, journalists appeared involved in the affair: the accusations multiplied, from all sides. Consequence of this, a serious excitement of public opinion, which resulted in the emergence of new political-military associations. The new associations of the Croix de feu, ancient fighters decorated with the war cross, with some similar groups, of the Ligue des patriotes, of the Solidarité française, of the Jeunesses patriotes (later Mouvement national populaire) and of the Francistes were born: to which a good part of the ex-combatants.
After a vain attempt to form a ministry of national union, with G. Doumergue, E. Daladier on February 6, 1934 presented himself to the chamber. In a stormy session, he obtained a vote of confidence, even from the socialists, who meant by this not to support the government but to fight the “reaction”. Outside the Chamber, however, ex-combatants, young people from patriotic associations, camelois du roi, rioted against the government; it seems that Communists and even more troubled individuals mingled with them. In the Place de la Concorde the troops made use of weapons: there were about thirty dead.
According to Eningbo.info, the Daladier left power. And then, as at other times in moments of crisis, while the outbreak of a civil war seemed almost inevitable, union triumphed again. G. Doumergue, former president of the republic, assumed power in extremely difficult conditions, with a ministry of national union: in which, on the contrary, leftists prevailed, but 6 ex-presidents of the council entered among which, ministers without portfolios, the two the most conspicuous representatives of the opposite tendencies, Herriot and Tardieu, and personalities extraneous to militant politics, from Marshal Pétain to G. Rivollet, secretary of the confederation of ex-combatants. The Communists, Socialists and some leftist groups were left out. Indeed, all these also joined in the so-called Front populaire ; and against the patriotic associations, with their “paramilitary” formations, the Jeunesses socialistes and the Jeunes gardes socialistes, and the Jeunesses communistes were organized.