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From Communism to Anti-Communism

 | 
Andre Liebich
, 
Svetlana Yakimovich

Anti-communism in the Cold War

Pluie de bactéries américaines

Joël Kotek

Texte intégral

Pluie de bactéries américaines [“Rain of American bacteria”]. The words in the picture read in French: “Ce n’est pas la pluie, ce sont les bactéries americaines qui font leurs petits besoins!” – [“This is not rain, these are american bacteria doing their thing [urinating]”]. Black and white leaflet, printed by Paix et Liberté [s.d.]; 5 x 19.5 cm.

1The Korean War gave rise to an unprecedented barrage of propaganda. Although North Korea bore all the responsibility, it persisted in accusing the South Koreans of having unleased it. This was an enormous lie.

2It was indeed Pyongyang that, on 25 June 1950, sent 138 00 soldiers to the 38th Parallel which brought about the capture of South Korea’s capital on 28 June, within a few days of the outbreak of the war. Nevertheless, North Korea’s mendacious propaganda was promptly picked up throughout the world and, not least, in the Communist press. “The North was obliged to hit back against a grave provocation by Washington’s puppets,” wrote L’Humanité, the daily paper of the French Communist Party. This affirmation was immediately picked up by the leading French public intellectual, Jean-Paul Sartre. More seriously, the Communist press even invented a story about American usage of bacteriological arms.

3On 22 February 1952 the North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pak Hon-Yong officially accused the Americans of having used “insects as vectors spreading the plague, cholera and other illnesses.” The accusation was clearly absurd. How could insects be controlled?

4Soviet documents published in 1998 reveal a sinister conspiracy orchestrated by the North Koreans and their Soviet advisors. Nevertheless, the false information was picked up immediately by the French communist press and by communist peace movements who denounced the massive – and imaginary - use of bacteriological weapons by the UN coalition led by the United States. It was in this context that a massive demonstration took place in Paris in May 1952 against the American general, Matthew Ridgway who was being appointed head of allied forces in Europe. The former commander of UN forces in Korea, was immediately dubbed “Ridgway the Plague” or the “microbial general”.

5The demonstration degenerated rapidly, leading to the death of at least two demonstrators and some 372 police officers wounded, 27 of whom suffered serious wounds. The man speaking is Jacques Duclos, easily recognizable on the caricature by his round glasses and rotund figure, to which the cartoonist has added a hammer and sickle armband and an umbrella with Soviet stars, acting secretary-general of the French Communist Party during the illness of Maurice Thorez.

Bibliographie

Pierre Milza, Ridgway la peste, L’Histoire, no. 25, July-August 1980.

Table des illustrations

Légende Pluie de bactéries américaines [“Rain of American bacteria”]. The words in the picture read in French: “Ce n’est pas la pluie, ce sont les bactéries americaines qui font leurs petits besoins!” – [“This is not rain, these are american bacteria doing their thing [urinating]”]. Black and white leaflet, printed by Paix et Liberté [s.d.]; 5 x 19.5 cm.
URL http://books.openedition.org/iheid/docannexe/image/6657/img-1.jpg
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