Correspondence with the Committee to Defend the French Students



Correspondence with the Committee to Defend the French Students


Correspondence with Helena Hermes, Secretary, Committee to Defend the French Students. Hermes asks Russell to become a sponsor of the Committee to Defend the French Students (.178014). Russell informs Hermes that he will become a sponsor (.178018). In reply, Hermes encloses a three-page news release from the Committee, titled "De Gaulle Government Forced to Release Political Prisoners" ( .178020).


Long, C.


Bertrand Russell, Committee to Defend the French Students


Aug. 21 - Sep. 4, 1968




Bertrand Russell Archives, Box 9.44, Doc. 178014-178021




McMaster University / Committee to Defend French Students


Bertrand Russell Archives




Committee to Defend the French Students

c/o Helena Hermes
148 W. 16 St.
New York, N.Y. 10011
Aug. 21, 1968

Lord Bertrand Russell
c/o Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
3 & 4 Shavers Place
Haymarket, London SW1, England,

Dear Lord Russell,

Enclosed are copies of a letter and literature which are being sent to individuals in the United States as part of the formation of the American committee to defend the victimized French students and to protest the banning of their organizations.
We would like to include among our list of sponsors the names of several prominent Europeans who are known as persons concerned about the preservation of civil liberties. In this regard we ask you to read the enclosed material , and if you support our efforts to sign the sponsor card which would enable us to use your name on our letterhead and the letter which urges others to sponsor the committee.

We hope you will respond as soon as possible since there is so little time to build the committee before the trials begin.

Enclosed is a self-addressed return envelope for your convenience.

I wish to thank you on behalf of the Committee to Defend the French Students for your attention and consideration of this request.

Helena Hermes,
From: The Earl Russell, O.M., F.R.S.
4 September 1968

Miss Helena Hermes, Secretary
Committee to Defend the French Students
148 West 16th Street
New York, N.Y. 10011

Dear Miss Hermes,

Thank you for your letter of August 21. I agree to become a sponsor of the Committee to Defend the French Students, and welcome the initiative that you have taken. I hope that the Committee will have the widest support in the United States.

Yours sincerely,
Bertrand Russell
Committee to Defend the French Students

c/o Helena Hermes
148 W. 16 St.
New York, N.Y. 10011

For Immediate Release
Aug. 25, 1968

New York, N.Y. - The Committee to Defend the French Students has just learned that on Aug. 23 the de Gaulle government announced the release of Alain Krivine and the 8 other political prisoners who had been held in jail for as long as six weeks. The nine were held on charges of "reconstituting" the banned Jeunesse Communiste Revolutionarie (JCR) and if convicted face up to two years in prison. Their release on provisional liberty (comparable to freedom on bail in the U.S.) marks a major victory in the fight against the de Gaulle government's repression of the left in France. Although they have been released from jail, the charges against them have not been dropped.
Alain Krivine, the most prominent figure in the JCR, and the 8 other students had been active in the struggles of May and June in France. Their arrests were part of a campaign of repression against the left in France which began June 12th when 11 left-wing student organizations and political parties were ordered to dissolve. The JCR and the other organizations were charged with forming armed militias, a frame-up accusation they immediately denied. The pretext for the banning is a 1936 conspiracy law aimed at disarming right-wing groups.

The French government has singled out the JCR for special attack in an attempt to intimidate the left and prevent further struggles in the fall. Until now all legal moves to secure the provisional release of the alleged JCR members had failed. On Aug. 10th M. Raymond Marcellin, the Minister of the Interior, in a speech at the opening of an industrial exposition, violently denounced the "subversive groups" and the danger they constitute to the government and the Republic. This speech was handled by the press as a major policy address of the government.
The world-wide condemnation of de Gaulle's attempt to crush the left in France was undoubtedly a significant factor in the release of these political tendencies in France. Three defense committees with broad support from students, writers' young lawyers, political figures and noted intellectuals including Jean-Paul Sartre and Laurent Schwartz have demanded that the bans be lifted and that Alain Krivine and the other prisoners be released. Solidarity meetings were organized throughout Europe. In the United States the Committee to Defend the French Students has been publicizing the repression and organizing to defend its victims.
The provisional release of the political prisoners marks the first victory in the campaign to end the repression in France. The Committee to Defend the French Students continues to fight this repression and asks support for its four demands:
1. Immediate release of all political prisoners and the dismissal of all charges against them.
2. Immediate repeal of the ban on all the proscribed political organizations.
3. Reaffirmation by the French government of the right of free access for all foreign journalists and all foreign students.
4. An immediate end to the brutal police repression of demonstrations and other attacks on the civil liberties of the French people.

For more information contact: Committee to Defend the French Students, c/o Helena Hermes, Nat'l Sec'y, 148 W. 16 St., New York, N.Y. 10011

Original Format

2 typed letters; 1 mimeographed news release