May Day is not Labor Day Reports

Mr. Jeanno, “red triangle”

“My nightmareSaid Monsieur Jeanne. it is to watch the demonstration from the balcony, and also to be on the street with friends. Do you understand that? » Monsieur Jeanno ended his life in the hospital of Montfermeil. ” You know ? “ It was our neighbor, the one who installed the water heater for us. He worked at a factory in Bobigny, a turner-miller. He worked there more. We could see his bike rusting on the wall of his garden when he was in the hospital. He caught a crab, Monsieur Jeanne. Nothing to do, more typhus on the stone, more than skin and bones. My older sister told her: “It will return, Monsieur Jeanne”. We brought him pieces of chocolate that he hadn’t eaten and left. “Hey, before, light my Goluza, the nuns are annoying me here!” »

Despite all these years, I think of him today this May Day. He was the “red triangle”, Monsieur Jeanno. Communist deportee. The gypsies were a brown triangle; blue – Jehovah’s Witnesses, pink – homosexuals and more. There were even yellow and red overlays for communist Jews. He did not make a fuss about his deportation, but in his small living room, in a waxed cupboard with beautiful crystal glasses that Madame Jeanne brought out on Sundays when they invited us for an aperitif, there was a piece of red canvas in the shape of a triangle with the letter “F” on it. , sewn on a square of gray cloth, all in a very clean frame, next to the plaster of the Blessed Virgin, because Madame Jeanne was the Church. Cato and Coco, it was not uncommon then in our red neighborhoods, Lenin and the crucifix, we were one people.

He did not play the hero with his deportation, but, nevertheless, he created a story out of it. And every May Day, as an aperitif with Gondolo cookies, it was the same: “May Day is not Labor Day! », launched Mr. Jeanno. And we – mom, especially, said: “Well, what do you mean, Monsieur Jeanne?” I, who believed in it… » And there he told us the whole story. “No, this is not Labor Day. This is something during Peten in 1941. Labor Day and social harmony, they called it, these freaks. Of course, work is important to them, not workers. And social harmony? Not at all! We are a social struggle! Great fight, Margarito. » Margarita was a mother. “Hey, yes, that’s quite true, Monsieur Jeanne. » My brother and I thought who it was, “jury”. My older sister explained: “this is the great bourgeoisie”. We didn’t know anyone, but we already hated them, those bastards.

“And the red triangle, do you know what it is?” Monsieur Jeanne continued. The red triangle is a struggle for the eight-hour day. There are three peaks: one peak is eight hours of work, one peak is eight hours of sleep, and another peak is eight hours of life. Here is the first of May. And believe it or not, it was invented by the Americans. Yes, the Americans, in Chicago, in 1886, had deaths and comrades who were hanged, for this, on an eight-hour workday. » two words like “comrades” and “Americans” so close, then it was funny.

“And a wild rosesaid Madame Jeanne, when was that » Madame Jeanne knew the answer. “The wild rose was in Furma in the northSaid Monsieur Jeanne, a large demonstration, police fired on a crowd, killing ten people, including a young woman carrying a small bouquet of wild roses. » A little silence. “Fall under a leaf in drops of blood”, added Madame Jeanno, making a shot from Cinzano. And then there was the thrush. Another fat bastard. White to forget about red rose hips. So Madame Jeanne offered us lilies of the valley, but with a little red ribbon, which she bought at the market, from the guys who sold Man. And then after that. She showed us a frame with a red triangle, with the letter “F”. There was one letter in each country. “P” – it’s Poles, “I” – kicked, “F” – we, France. “Yes, it is also Francesaid mom and I have to go look at my lamb. » And still a little tickled. And how was the deportation? The history of deportation was not just ancient. “Not all the timeSaid Monsieur Jeanne, raising his fist. but it is so – if we did not understand – May Day is not Labor Day, but Workers’ Day. »

Monsieur Jeanne never got on his bike. I hope that his red triangle with the letter “F” was respected somewhere and did not turn out to be a rag to polish “fat” shoes.

First of all, I remember that tiny moment when we crossed the street again to our lamb with a small bump in our nose and a huge pride that filled our hearts.

Daniel Mermett

May Day has a history. This story begins on May 4, 1886 in Chicago. A bomb explodes in Haymarket Square during a demonstration in a long struggle over an eight-hour working day, police officers are killed and eight men are arrested and charged with murder.

Prosecutor Julius Grinnell says very clearly: “These people are chosen because they are leaders. They are not guilty of more than the thousands of people who followed them … Gentlemen, judge these people, set an example from them, hang them, and you will save our institutions and our society. »

Therefore, it is primarily a test of the labor movement. All convicts, four hanged in public, another committed suicide in prison with dynamite. The event will have a great impact around the world. After decades of labor unrest, the eight-hour working day in France will be voted in April 1919 without wage cuts.

journalists: Daniel Mermett and Giv-Anketil

realization: Jerome Chelius and Frank Haderer

collection: Jonathan Duong

The program aired for the first time on April 30, 2014 on France Inter.

Music programming:

May Day Orchestra : This land is not free

- Utah Phillips : Joe Hill

- Emil Combs : May Day in March

In May 1996, 110 years after the Haymarket Square massacre, journalist Studs Terkel paid tribute to the workers’ struggle for an eight-hour day. A wild rose in his hand, he concluded: “let’s fight on”we continue to fight!

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