Remembering Our Brave French Comrade Albert Abalain (1915-1943)

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(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

“I have no hope of saving my life, the training officer has told me that I am to be shot. This does not frighten me, I will die bravely for Communism, I am proud of having fought for the independence of my country, and to save the people of France from slavery.’  

Albert Abalain

Translator’s Note: I have always respected the French intellectual and Revolutionary traditions, and am well aware of the progressive shudders sent through the world by the French Revolution of 1789. I was particularly enthralled to learn of William Wordsworth’s involvement in this epoch-making event (courtesy of my old teacher Richard Hunn 1946-2006). In the meantime, the bias of British ‘national’ history has always been to define the UK as a world power in opposition to France – and to (the great) Napoleon Bonaparte. Fortunately, my own progressive (Socialist) education has enabled me to see through this bourgeois morass of deception, and for that I must thank the British Labour Party of 1948, which gave free education to the likes of my working class family. Without Labour providing ‘free’ education for every child and adult in the UK, I would never have broken-out of the historically conditioned, working class ignorance that dominates our class, and realised that the French working class are my natural allies. Having read Alexander Werth’s book entitled ‘France: 1940-1955’, I have found an entirely new understanding and respect for the Members of the French Communist Party, who died in their thousands during the Nazi German occupation of their country during WWII. To this end, I have found the following biography of Comrade Albert Abalain who was victimised by the Vichy Anti-Communist Police (SPAC), and then murdered by the German Occupation Forces. Following the end of WWII, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and De Gaulle re-wrote history and demonised the Communists who had sacrificed so much for the anti-fascist cause. I defy the fascist Churchill with this text. This is my first translation from French into English, and I wish to thank the people of France for fighting Nazism so that we might stay free in the UK. ACW 16.7.2018)

Letter to his parents from Rennes prison – written by the Communist Resistance fighter Albert Abalain – shot at Mont-Valérien on September 17, 1943 (archive fonds ANACR 29).

Between March 23, 1941 and August 12, 1944, 1014 Resistance fighters (and hostages) were shot at the Mont-Valérien clearing. It is recorded that 125 came from the West, including Albert Abalain shot September 17, 1943.

A Resisting son of France who gave his life for his Communist ideals and his country.

Albert Abalain (note written by Jean-Pierre Besse and Delphine Le Neveu as part of a collective research project).

Born January 13, 1915 in Quimerch (Finistère), shot September 17, 1943 at Mont Valerien, common Suresnes (Seine, Hauts-de-Seine); Pensioner – Veteran of the French Navy; Communist; Resistant FTPF in Finistère.

The son of a powder-maker and a housewife, Albert Abalain was a 100% Navy Pensioner and residing in Pont-de-Buis-lès-Quimerch (Finistère). He joined the French Communist Party (PCF) in 1936, campaigned at the General Confederation of Workers (CGT) and participated in the reconstruction of the clandestine PCF and actions at the Arsenal Brest (Finistère). He entered the Communist Armed Resistance very early and according to some testimonies contained in his file in Caen, he would have been Departmental Chief of FTP Finistère and Member of Staff FTP. He was arrested on 1 October 1942, in Châteaulin (Finistère) station by the French police after the dismantling of the Lorient FTP group (Morbihan). The report of the gendarmerie of Châteaulin, dated October 1st, reported: “Following the attack on the night of September 30 to October 1, 1942 against the station Frébaud in Lorient … information received from the section commander Lorient, Abalain – a full Navy Pensioner – and domiciled in his parents would be no stranger to this case. On the platform we noticed an individual corresponding to the report. He was arrested in possession of papers which gave him a residence in Hauteville (Ain), a sum of money and false papers. He managed to escape but was re-captured in the early morning of October 2nd near the bridge SNCF Pont-de-Buis. Incarcerated in the castle of Brest and then detained by the Anti-Communist Police Service (SPAC) in Lorient from 8 to 12 October 1942, he was again locked in the castle of Brest and Jacques-Cartier prison in Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine) from January 1943 before being transferred to Fresnes (Seine, Val-de-Marne) on July 28, 1943. He was sentenced to death by the German Military Court Gross Paris (Abt B) on August 28, 1943 for “sabotage by explosives and attacks on [sic] the German army “. The gendarmerie report already quoted gives us the following description: “1 m 70, blond hair, blue eyes, straight nose, oval face. He was shot on September 17, 1943 in Mont-Valérien.

Abalain appears on the war memorial of Pont-de-Buis-lès-Quimerch, a city where, after the war, his mother, Jeanne née Veignant (widow), and her brothers lived. The commemorative plaque site says it “shot at Mont-Valérien with eighteen other Communist militants of Brest”. (Http://maitron-fusilles-40-44.univ-paris1.fr/)

Excerpts of a letter from July 1943, a few days before his execution.

“I have no hope of saving my life, the training officer has told me that I am to be shot. This does not frighten me, I will die bravely for Communism, I am proud of having fought for the independence of my country, and to save the people of France from slavery. Those who have delivered me to the Germans, French or so-called police officers, those who have made themselves the providers of courts-martial, will have to answer one day, for their disgusting conduct. What I have suffered because of them, you will never know. Can not imagine the sadism of these guard dogs of capitalism. Deprived of care, food, whipped day and night, exposed for nights during the drafts of November, without bench and without cover, in a cell so small that it is not possible to stir to try to warm up. I never imagined, before my arrest, that the French could behave this way toward good patriots. Justice is on the move, particularly on the Eastern side of Europe, where the heroes of the Red Army are inflicting heavy losses on the capitalist warmongers.”

Original French Language Article:

http://www.le-chiffon-rouge-morlaix.fr/2016/12/lettre-de-la-prison-de-rennes-du-resistant-communiste-brestois-albert-abalain-fusille-au-mont-valerien-le-17-septembre-1943-fonds-d

 

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