(London 27) Despite her description of fellow Communists as being “sous le choc,” hers is a particularly positive analysis of the moment, describing how many of the party faithful swallowed their doubts and accepted the pact as a necessary means to ensure peace, and maintaining that “le comportement des communistes à cette époque, malgré leur trouble, leur isolement, témoigne de leur foi inconditionnelle en Staline, de l’idée mythique qu’ils avaient de la ‘Patrie du proletariat mondial.’” (27) rather than a member, only joining the party in 1942, when she came to be an important figure in the intellectual Resistance.
Unlike London, she could not, despite considerable heart searching, accept the justifications offered for the pact.
Rejecting the argument that the pact represented a guarantee of peace, the best interpretation she could place on it was that the USSR saw it as an opportunity to spread revolution: “considérant que la guerre est la meilleure des situations révolutionnaires, l’URSS décide ouvertement de laisser les pays capitalistes (…) se jeter les uns sur les autres.” (, 37.) Unconvinced by her own hypothesis, she concludes that, far from guaranteeing peace, the pact has actually hastened the arrival of war.
Critical of Aragon for his defence of the pact, her faith in communism is undermined; and her judgment that the pact will hasten war is confirmed when, “bouleversée d’horreur,” she learns of the Soviet invasion of Poland on 17 September (, foreign correspondent Paul Nizan had been a fully fledged member of the Party since 1928, but he resigned a month after the news of the pact.
The characterisation of the news as a “coup de tonnerre” is a frequent one.
It is the phrase used in her memoirs by Lise London, a party militant since the early 1930s, to describe the feelings of many party members.In the early part of the summer, his articles as foreign correspondent in had reiterated criticism of the French and British governments for their failure to pursue negotiations with the Soviet Union for collective security.Nizan was away on holiday when news of the pact broke, and various accounts underline his apparent shock at discovering the news.Indeed, unlike the PCF’s interpretation of the Second World War, which underwent a number of shifts, Aragon’s position remained anti-Nazi from the beginning to the end of the war.The announcement of the pact on 23 August 1939 caused shock waves within the PCF, and Aragon responded to the news both as a journalist and a novelist.,” Aragon was warning of the dangers of delaying such an agreement.The timing of the pact was particularly awkward for the PCF since not only was the news unexpected, but the majority of the party hierarchy was on holiday when news of its imminent signature broke late on 21 August.At the time of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact of 1939, Louis Aragon was a member of the French Communist Party (PCF), a well known novelist and poet and a journalist.Whilst his writing career had undergone several notable transformations, not least that from surrealist to socialist realist, his political commitment to the left and, from 1927 to the PCF, remained steadfast for much of his life.Aragon called on the French and British governments to seize the opportunity to sign their own pact with the USSR in order to prevent war: “Le pacte tripartite (qui n’est pas un simple pacte de non-agression mais bel et bien une alliance, et demeure la pièce maîtresse du Front de la Paix) viendra compléter merveilleusement un pacte de non-agression germano-soviétique.” (“Vive la paix!” OP3 1044) These same points were emphasised in of 24 August (“L’annonce du pacte de non-agression germano-soviétique a fait reculer la guerre”) affirmed the analysis of the pact as an anti-war strategy, while Aragon’s editorial “Cessez de faire le jeu de M.