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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

Maurice Thorez’s 50th birthday

di Annette Wieviorka
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 34 (2010), p. 153

The 50th birthday of Maurice Thorez, the French communist leader, has been in 1950 the occasion for a true cult of personality, similar to what was happening in the USSR around Joseph Stalin. In these years of Cold War, Maurice Thorez, symbol of the working class, has been honored in a way the France had never known before. The preparation of the event had been carefully organized, including the publication of a “history of his life” Fils du peuple, widely translated, publicized and commented. The 70th birthday of Stalin was also used as a kind of rehearsal of this French commemoration. This article addresses both the organization of communist propaganda and the incredibly personalized cult of Thorez that led to an enormous amount of presents, literature, art, ceremonies, coming from all over the “communist world”, clearly showing that communism, in France was also a political religion.