851.00B/10–749: Telegram

The Ambassador in France ( Bruce ) to the Secretary of State


4232. Department may be interested in following data and observations on Communists’ strategy and tactics as seen from Paris as we enter period of government crisis.1

Working class here had been led to believe that period of price deflation had at last arrived and consequently that gradual decline of prices at least of essential goods was in sight. This anticipation has not been fulfilled and workers have been confronted even with sporadic rise in certain essential commodities. Consequently Communists who all along have propagandized to effect that no price reductions could be expected from “capitalist regime of profiteers” now appear to make sense to broad masses through growing “psychosis of inflation” and unfortunately anti-Communist labor movement that had based its policies on anticipated price stabilization has seen rug pulled from under foot and CTC has taken steps to engage in united front with CGT and CGT-FO and CGC. Communists perceive that labor demands are now entering stage where political strikes are possible and are encouraged by fact that no less conservative labor leader than Bouzanquet dares talk about possibility of “insurrectional strikes” should concessions not be made to workers. CP also encouraged by possible adverse consequences devaluation. Three days subsequent to [Page 669] British devaluation “international fraction” for trade union work under Cominform issued secret instructions through WFTU (special Secretariat under Toilet in Paris) that may be briefly summarized as follows:

Immediate broadening of demands on basis of free collective bargaining with termination of frozen wages and establishment of wage minimum, coupled with agitation for freedom of all labor activity.
Establishment of sliding wage scale for protection of workers’ purchasing power.
Combination of immediate labor demands with continued “struggle for peace”.
Acceleration of campaign for united labor action (through committees of united action in all important plants) and preparation of combined strikes in metal, mining, transportation, civil service and ports.
Major objectives to be simultaneous strikes throughout Western Europe under coordination of WFTU.

While at present juncture there are no grounds for believing that Communists can succeed in effecting “political strikes” such as that of last November, then the danger that CP may be able to organize strikes that ostensibly are “professional” and non political but which actually serve CP and Soviet cause. Communist thesis that present “regime” as represented by recent Queuille Cabinet is preparing for war and that Marshall Plan and North Atlantic Pact entail impoverishment of working class owing to crushing burden of military budget, Indo-Chinese war, et cetera, is beginning to make sense to masses owing particularly to failure of government to make concessions regarding salaries. Communist “peace” program, which they have linked with immediate demands of labor and government employees, is gaining strength especially among war veterans, deportee and resistance groups which are also particularly sensitive to CP propaganda to effect that United States is permitting Nazism to raise its head in Germany.

The most level headed leaders of FO are deeply worried over situation and have confirmed accuracy offer [our?] impression that Bouzanquet’s recent declaration before Anglo-American Press Club about possibility of “insurrectional strikes” was not off-cuff statement but was fully approved by FO leadership.

Sent Department 4232, repeated Rome 149.

  1. Henri Queuille had resigned as President of the Council of Ministers on October 5 in a dispute over wages and prices policy.