University of Oxford
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Interview with Tiennot Grumbach

Version 2 2021-03-11, 09:45
Version 1 2021-02-09, 14:02
posted on 2021-03-11, 09:45 authored by Robert GildeaRobert Gildea
Grumbach, Tiennot
Algerian War/ Union des Étudiants Communistes/ Union des Jeunesses Communistes (marxistes-léninistes)/Gargenville/Flins/ Vive la Révolution

Born 19 May 1939, Paris 17th arrondissement. Died 17 August 2013. Father’s family were Jews from Belfort who came to Paris after 1870. Grandfather emigrated to Brazil, set up import business at Sao Paolo, father did military service in France and mobilised 1939-40. Mother’s family were Jews of Portuguese origin at Bordeaux, she was a sister of Pierre Mendès France. During the war Tiennot and brother were hidden with a family in Pyrenees and he embraced Catholicism as a child.

Lycée Jeanson de Sailly, Paris with André Sénik, then Paris Law Faculty where he read economics. Completed doctorate 3e cycle.

Political Apprenticeship
Provided by seven years of Algerian war. Ranged against right-wingers destined for the officer corps at school. Attended Festival Mondial de la Jeunesse at Moscow with André Sénik, 1957. Involved in anti-war Catholic Clubs de Loisir et de l’Action de la Jeunesse (CLAJ) of Charles Dusnasio. At a meeting of communists, Christians and FLN in a Protestant church, rue du Havre, Paris, three of his friends were arrested.
After the end of the war, he went to Algeria as ‘pied rouge’ 1962-5, bringing medical help, joining a new international revolutionary fraternity. Met Che Guevara and also Robert Linhart of the École Normale Supérieure.
On his return he joined the Union des Étudiants Communistes (UEC), which was already in revolt against the PCF leadership. Went to China before Cultural Revolution. Founded Union des Jeunesses Communistes (marxistes-léninistes), UJC (ml) with Robert Linhart. ‘Going to the factories’ as établis from 1966, pursuing a ‘mass line’ and exploiting labour unrest to generate class struggle.

Kept to Maoist line to stay in factories with workers, not to be diverted into Latin Quarter with students, but UJC (ml) broke up after this.

Post 1968
After 1968 he became an établi in Citroën car factory, 15th arrondissement, but was sacked. Founded ‘base ouvrière’ at Flins car factory from Sept 1969 and Vive la Révolution with Roland Castro, to form ‘philosophical workers and worker-intellectuals’. Lived in commune at nearly Gargenville with Françoise Picq, who became his lifelong companion.

Qualified as a barrister 1972, registered with Bar of Les Yvelines and specialising in labour law. Defended militants including Pierre Goldman 1974. Elected to municipal council of Mantes in 1970s with Verts de gauche.


Around 1968: Activism, Networks, Trajectories

Arts and Humanities Research Council

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Date of interview


Place of interview


Name of activist

Tiennot Grumbach

Activist date of birth


Activist Gender

  • Male

Activist nationality


Name of interviewer

Robert Gildea

Name of transcriber

Nora Khayi