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From Communism to Anti-Communism

Andre Liebich
Svetlana Yakimovich

Anti-communism in the Cold War

Halte aux menteurs

Andre Liebich

Texte intégral

The top of the picture reads in French: “Halte aux menteurs!” – [“Stop the liars!”]. The text at the bottom of the picture reads: “Les cocobacilles sèment la haine!” – [“The coccobacilli sow hatred!”]. The framed text reads:”I Thorez. II Marty. III J.Verneersch. IV Cachin. V Waldeck-Rochet. VI Duclos. Vii Tillon. VIII Joliot-Curie. IX Pierre Cot. X Billoux. XI Lecoeur”. Full-color leaflet, printed by Paix et Liberté [s.d.]; 10 x 14.5 cm.

1Well before Vaclav Havel had proclaimed “living in truth” as the essence of opposition to Communism, ‘Paix et Liberté’ had waged an uncompromising and lengthy campaign against Communist “lies.” One of its persistent themes was the discrepancy between the facts, as they could be ascertained by an objective individual, and the falsehoods propagated by the French Communist Party as the mouthpiece of Kremlin Cold-War propaganda. Here ‘Paix et Liberté’ uses the widely-diffused myth of bacteriological weapons employed by a newly-founded NATO against its adversaries in Korea to denounce Communist rumor-mongering. The figures represented in this image are French Communists and, at least one fellow-traveler (Pierre Cot, founder of the Union progressiste), portrayed as themselves poisonous bacilla spreading hatred throughout all corners of the French hexagon with their mendacious claims.

2It is an angry Stalin who diffuses these bacilla with a megaphone. Almost next to him but at an appropriately deferential level stands Maurice Thorez, Secretary-General of the French Communist Party. He is connected with a string to his wife, Jeanette Vermeersch, figure III and the only woman in the group, herself a prominent Communist activist and, for many years, a deputy to the French National Assembly. Among the other “bacilla” are Frédéric Joliot-Curie, one of the prominent intellectuals in the French Communist Party who, with his wife, Irène Joliot-Curie, won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935. One sees also Charles Tillon, figure VII, founder and commandant of the FTPF (Francs tireurs et partisans français) one of the most important pillars of the French Resistance during the Second World War. In 1952, Tillon as well as Andre Marty, figure II, and in 1954, Auguste Lecoeur, figure XI, were to be read out of the Communist Party. There is no sign of their upcoming disgrace in their portrayal here. Indeed, the uniform depiction of each figure here suggests they are all diffusing the same message blared to them by Stalin although the graphic representation of each figure would have made them immediately recognizable to French readers, even without the glossary attached.


David Caute, Communism and the French Intellectuals, 1914-1960, London: A. Deutsch 1960.

Annie Kriegel, Les communistes français. Essai d'ethnographie politique, Paris, Seuil, collection Politique, 1968 (2e éd. revue, augmentée et mise à jour 1970).


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