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Andre Marti (André Marty)

Andre Marti was born in Perpignan, into a family of wine merchants. Marti became one of France's great modern revolutionary figures, who led the mutiny of the French Navy in the Black Sea. He joined the Navy of France as a naval engineer, serving on the cruiser Jean Bart. In April 1919 [not 1917, as some accounts claim], Jean Bart and the dreadnought France were sent to the Black Sea to assist the White Army in the Civil War in Russia. On 09 April 1919 [possibly not April 19, 1919, as reported by some sources] Marty led the revolt on the French squadron. Had the Russian Revolution not been victorious, Marti would have been regarded with scorn, if not amusement. But Marti was lifted to revolutionary fame at a later date when the left wing of the Socialist Party of France reconstituted itself as the Communist Party.

Marty was arrested, tried and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment in hard labor. In July 1923 he was pardoned. After leaving prison, joined the French Communist Party [PCF]. In 1924 he became a member of the National Assembly of France on the Seine and the Oise and the Central Committee of the PCF. In 1931, Marti became active in the Comintern, where he was elected secretary in 1936.

In 1936, in connection with the start of the Spanish Civil War, he was sent to Spain to represent the interests of the Comintern. There was no dearth of advisors ready to pass on "advice" whenever needed. The entire policy of the Spanish CP was tightly controlled by new grey eminences such as the Italian Palmiro Togliatti, the French-Catalan André Marti, the Hungarian Erno Geroe, and the terrible Bulgarian Stapanov. In October 1936, he was appointed political commissar of the International Brigade. The Franco-Belgian battalion in the XII International Brigades was named in honor of Marti.

In Spain he was commander of the volunteers in Albacete and developed a reputation as an officer willing to execute his own men if they showed signs of wavering in their communist faith or in their willingness to fight the enemy. Marti was scarifyingly depicted in Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, with its easily recognisable picture of the impenetrably stupid Comintern Stalinist. Hemingway's critique of the Stalinist domination of the military command and therefore authors of the military strategy that led to defeat at times overwhelms the story. For Whom the Bell Tolls centers upon a plan for a major attack by the Republican army. The plan has been detected, however, or it has been betrayed. When two messengers are sent to warn General Golz that the fascists seem to be prepared for the attack, the messengers are arrested by General Marti. He had become a paranoid: "dominated by a system of thought [which] must be constantly shown to explain everything" (D.W. Winnicott, Playing, 164 ).

However, he was liked by many men who served under him. Archie Cochrane met him at the beginning of the war: "He was an impressive figure - tall, with a bushy beard and small dark hard eyes. I then made my speech offering the services of the Spanish Medical Aid Committee field hospital unit. He replied briefly in French, thanked me, and embraced me." Jack Jones also liked Marty: "He was a sharp, imperious-looking man, and looked capable of performing all the actions Hemingway and others have written about. Yet to me there was a touch of the Tom Mann about him; he appeared to be vigorous, thrusting and bore evidence of long years of struggle. He wanted us to use our influence with the Labour Party to oppose all efforts at mediation. He claimed that talk of mediation was rife and that the British and French Governments could be involved, resulting in a weakening of the Republic's defences."

In the spring of 1939 the Spanish Civil War ended. Since the beginning of World War II a return to occupied France would be too dangerous for him. Instead of returning to France, Marty went to the Soviet Union, working for the Comintern. From May to October 1943, after the success of the North African operations, Marty was sent to Algeria. He served as the official representative of the PCF with the movement of De Gaulle's Free French Forces, which was located here. He attempted to direct the activities of the Front National and the Frances-Tireurs Partisans, the military wing on the Communist Party.

After the liberation of Paris in August 1944, Marti returned to France. He tried to take advantage of the chaos that reigned in the early days of de Gaulle's Provisional Government, starting a revolution. However, he was unable to mobilize the support of other leaders of the PCF. The final "nail in the coffin" was the imposition by Stalin personally to veto the plan - under instructions from Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Maurice Thorez and other leaders refused to cooperate.

Marti was again elected to the National Assembly, although the attacks on him in the media significantly reduced its influence in the PCF. His career effectively ended when Etienne Fadzhon condemned Marti and his former comrades in the Black Sea, Charles Tillon, as police spies. The case of Martí and Tillon stretched on for several months, with numerous accusations from both sides, ending with the exception of Marti from the PCF on December 7, 1952. Marti remained a deputy until 1955, when he resigned and settled in a village near Toulouse. He died of lung cancer November 23, 1956.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:51:07 ZULU