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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 6, No. 9 July 14, 1943

Fall of Paris

Fall of Paris

"The Fall of Paris" is written by Ilya Ehrenburg, who received the Stalin Prize for his dramatic analysis of the struggle of the French people for peace and security.

The novel begins with the People's Front elections of 1936. For the first time in its history Fascism has received a spontaneous rejection from the people whose ancestors had manned the barricades in the great days of the Commune. We witness a sit-down strike in one of the aircraft factories in Paris. The workers press forward their demands for better wages and hours. The strike spreads like wildfire and becomes overnight a forceful demonstration of the workers' support for the Government. Leon Blum, however, is anxious to assure the employers that strong action will be taken to restore normal conditions, and although the workers gain their immediate objectives they very soon realise that they have been betrayed. It is their government which first proposes "non-intervention" in Spain. Ehrenburg describes particularly well the reception given to their Spanish comrades by the workers of France. But the Spaniards needed more than cheers to help them in their defence of democracy. Aeroplanes, munitions, food, is wanted, but the best that the Spanish delegates can get from the Blum Government is polite refusals. The Spanish drama comes to an end early in 1939. The stage is set for World War No. 2. France enters the war in a state of utter confusion. The ruling class are afraid of civil war. "Communism is the enemy" becomes the slogan of the daily press. They confess openly that they would welcome Hitler rather than have a people's government Workers are arrested by the thousands. Munitions factories are being deprived of their ablest men. Daladier is determined to wage war against his own people first. Meanwhile General de Gaulle has warned against France's shortage of tanks and aircraft, but the general staff simply ignores his warnings. "France," they say, "is protected by the Maginot line, which no power on earth can break." The rest is known to the whole world. Paris falls without a fight. London, Malta, Leningrad and Stalingrad fight back and triumph.

Ilya Ehrenburg has made a supreme contribution to the cause of freedom. He has given a warning that concerns all of us.

Above all things—Unity In the face of Fascist aggression!