Interview with Bernard and Anne Victorri
mediaposted on 11.03.2021, 09:45 authored by Robert GildeaRobert Gildea
Jeunesse Communiste / Union des Jeunesses Communistes (marxistes-léninistes)/Comités Vietnam de base/ Gauche Prolétarienne/ Mouvement pour la Liberté de l’Avortement et de la Contraception
Born 4 May 1949, Paris 15th arrondissement. Father at École Normale Supérieure (ENS), deported as a resister, joined Communist Party (PCF). At École Nationale d’Adminstration, set up PCF cell in Quai d’Orsay and asked to leave in 1950s. Worked for Renault, then a bank. Danish mother, social worker (1956-8), publishing, later researcher at CNRS. They both left the PCF 1956.
Lycée Victor Duruy (girls) to baccalauréat, then Lycée Lakanal (1967-8) to prepare for ENS, but interrupted by May 1968.
To ‘take up the beacon’ laid down by her parents in 1956. Read Sartre, Aragon, Un Homme véritable. Joined Jeunesse Communiste aged 15 in 1964, set up a Jeunesse Communiste cell at Victor Duruy, visited Yugoslavia. Vietnam War was raging and took her towards Maoists of Union des Jeunesses Communistes (marxistes-léninistes), UJC (ml) and Comités Vietnam de base.
Occupied Lycée in 1968, attended Sorbonne meetings, distributed leaflets/La Cause du peuple in shanty-towns of Massy and Chatenay-Malabry. Sent on mission to Dunkirk to steal a car, leafleting miners.
Did not return to studies in autumn 1968 but went on mission to industrial heartland in Nord/Pas-de-calais to rekindle revolution with boyfriend Bernard and leader Jean Schiavo who became établi (underground worker) at La Maille textile factory, Arras. This was a kernel of the Gauche Prolétarienne. Again on mission to Nord at Cambrai 1969-70, worked in chocolate factory. When she protested she was ‘re-educated’ as a ‘fille des mines’ at Roubaix. ‘Proletarian marriage’ to Bernard Victorri, Sept 1969, so as not to upset traditional workers’ communities.
Teacher in small town of Aumont in Sambre valley 1971 but sacked. Undertook hunger strike in Aumont church – a ‘mini May 68’- in 1971, a thousand workers at meeting. Became part of community involved in Secours Rouge. Active in Mouvement pour la Liberté de l’Avortement et de la Contraception (MLAC)1972, doing abortions for local women under eye of doctors and women’s groups, spoke at Maubeuge hospital.
Gave up activism 1976, went to Quebec, then Caen 1984 to teach in an experimental lycée. Became a librarian.
Algerian War / Union des Jeunesses Communistes (marxistes-léninistes)/Flins/Gauche Prolétarienne/ Secours Rouge/ Comités Justice et Liberté
Born 4 Oct. 1946, Beni-Saf, Algeria. Family of Spanish origin. Father primary school head, mayor of village, member of Conseil général. Mother a postmistress, then a teacher. Family took ‘Camus line’ on Algerian war – neither status quo nor independence. Became a target for the OAS and came to France after 1962.
In France from 1961, Lycée Lakanal, then Louis-le-Grand. École Normale Supérieure (ENS), studying maths, 1966.
Students’ union UNEF campaign for scholarships for all, then at ENS joined Union des Jeunesses Communistes (marxistes-léninistes), UJC (ml). Visit to China with activist group 1967, during Cultural Revolution.
Involved in street-fighting in Latin Quarter May 1968 despite line of ‘paranoid leadership’ of UJC(ml) that student violence was a police ‘trap’ to keep them away from striking factories in suburbs. Active at factories of Flins and Citroen-Choisy, ‘long march’ to mobilise peasants in Artois – with Anne.
Joined Gauche Prolétarienne to rekindle revolution after 1968. Went to industrial heartland and became underground worker (établi) at La Maille textile factory to agitate among workers. On mission to Nord with Anne (1969-70), ‘proletarian marriage’ with her Sept 1969, so as not to upset traditional workers’ communities. Got job as warehouseman at sugar-factory of Cambrai, his dismissal provoked strike. ‘Enormous mobilisation’ over deaths of 16 miners from fire-damp at Fouquières-les-Lens, Molotov cocktail attack on mining company offices. Paint-pot attack on forewoman at La Lainière, Roubaix, led to prison Feb. 1970 (six weeks detention, got 3 months suspended) and before Cour de Sûreté de l’Etat for Molotov incident Dec.1970, got 71/2 months.
Moved with Anne to Aulmont in Sambre valley. He was lecturer at Faculty of Lille. Involved in Secours Rouge, Comités Justice et Liberté (popular justice) – Bruyais-en-Artois. End of GP 1973, living in a community, abortion campaign, with PSU and left-wing Catholics.
Gave up militancy 1976, went to Quebec for seven years, defeated attempt to expel him 1979. Return to Caen 1984, then Paris. Professor at the École Normale Supérieure.
Co-author of Les origines du langage (Paris, Pommier, 2006)
Around 1968: Activism, Networks, Trajectories
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