The workers of Paris triumph (1)

Submitted by AWL on 22 July, 2005 - 6:02

In 1894 Ernest Belfort Bax, one of the pioneer British Marxists, wrote a long series of articles on the Commune in Justice, the paper of the first British Marxist group, the Social Democratic Federation. We have abridged and adapted Bax’s narrative account of the Commune. The second part will appear in the next issue of Solidarity.

The Paris Commune of 1871 occupies a peculiar position in the history of the proletarian movement. It forms the culmination of the first period of modern socialism — a period in which the elements of prior movements were still clinging to it. The distinction between socialism and anarchism had not as yet fully emerged; the anarchistic-individualistic doctrines of Proudhon still had adherents within the Socialist Party; while Bakunin was regarded as one of the pillars of the International (Workingmen’s Association — the “First International”).

In addition to these elements there were archeological survivals of the ideas of the Europe-wide revolution of 1848, and even of the Jacobins of the Great French Revolution that began in 1789.

The 1848 Revolution, though predominantly a middle-class concern, is marked by the first appearance of the proletariat in conscious opposition to the middle-class — in the German Communist League, for example, for which Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto, and in the Paris insurrection of June in that year.

Amongst the working-classes of the large towns — notably of Paris, but also of Lyons, Marseilles, and other places — is rooted the remembrance of the power and position of the then young proletariat during the great years of the Revolution of 1792 to 1794. It had lingered on ever since, now and again bursting out in somewhat aimless revolt, and again slumbering for awhile, but always there.

The party of the people embodying this tradition, which from time to time absorbed new ideas of a socialistic nature as they arose, became definitely constituted in 1848, and was known after that year as the Red Republican Party, from the fact that, in the June
insurrection, the red flag was adopted by the insurgents. Everywhere it was acclaimed as the banner of the class-conscious proletariat and of socialistic Republicanism, in opposition to the French tricolour, which was that of the middle-classes and of bourgeois or political Republicanism.

Such was the origin of the flag which is now, the world over, the great ensign of the modern socialist movement.

In addition to the active Red Republican Party and its popular leaders, there has always existed in France a class of men who have made the history of the great Revolution their life-study. These men naturally conceive of every revolution as modelling itself on the lines of the French Revolution of 1789-96.

There was, of course, also the influence of the International, founded in 1864, and with it, the Marxists, who had been industriously propagandising among the Parisian working-classes for five or six years before the Commune.

Such was the amalgam of tendencies and ideas – Proudhonism, neo-Jacobinism reminiscences of 1848, with a recent infusion of the modern socialism of Marx – which in various proportions went to constitute the mental background of the leaders and the ranks of the
French Red Republican Party in 1871, at the time when it established the Commune of Paris.

The Commune, it is said, did little of a distinctively socialistic character; it made, many mistakes; it was infatuated with the idea of decentralisation. True. But the Commune was the first administration manned by the working classes, having for its more or less conscious aim the reorganisation of social conditions — the transformation of a civilised society into a socialist society. It is this question of aim, as symbolised by its red flag, which is the central one. For, however nebulous may have been the views of some of those that took part in it, that such was the aim of the movement has been recognised by friends and foes alike.

What meant the blood-frenzy of those who drowned the Commune in blood? What meant the tacit or avowed approval of the capitalistic press throughout the civilised world, at the most hideous carnage known to history, but the desperate rage of threatened class interests? Those who died under the Red Flag in 1871 died for socialism, and a nobler army of martyrs no cause has ever had.

The Paris Commune came out of a war between France and Prussia which started in July 1870. After the defeat at Sedan of the French forces by the Prussian army on 1 September, 1870, and the abdication of the French Emperor, Napoleon III, came a political revolution in France. On 4 September a Republic was provisionally established. The Prussians were soon in full march upon Paris, and a newly established “Government of National Defence” was organising, with General Louis-Jules Trochu at its head, the resistance.

On 20 September 1870, the Prussians laid siege to Paris. The siege would last four months. The popular excitement within the city during the whole time was intense.

The population resolutely declined to believe in the possibility of the city being taken, and at every reverse threatening demonstrations against the impotent Provisional Government were made.

Twice a revolution was on the point of being accomplished — on 31 October 1870, and on 22 January 1871.

Of course, resistance to the foreign enemy was what was uppermost in all minds, and the demands of the Parisian masses for the establishment of a Commune to govern the city and lead France, were largely based on reminiscences of the wonders effected in this connection by the first Paris Commune in 1792-3.

On 31 October the Hotel de Ville, the Town Hall, the seat of the Government, was invaded by an angry crowd, some demanding a committee of public safety, some the revolutionary Commune.

At last, on the 20 January, Trochu summoned the mayors of the twenty districts (arrondissements), of the city, and declared all further holding out impossible. The

Parisians were struck dumb with indignation at the idea of surrender, but the next day the mayors were again summoned and informed that the General Staff had decided not to make another sortie, and that it was absolutely essential to open negotiations with the enemy at once.

On the night of the 21st the Government, after a heated and lengthy discussion of the situation, replaced Trochu by another General, Joseph Vinoy.

Meanwhile the authorities were taking every precaution against the threatened proletarian insurrection. But by midday of the 22nd the call-drum was heating in the Batignolles district and elsewhere, and early in the afternoon the Hotel de Ville was surrounded by hostile National Guards and an angry crowd demanding the establishment of the the Commune — Parisian self-government.

The Hotel de Ville was defended by gardes mobiles, who were replied to by “Nationals”, and a fusillade lasting three-quarters of an hour ensued, involving over thirty killed, after which a body of gendarmes appeared, and the insurgents retreated and dispersed, leaving about a dozen prisoners in the hands of the authorities.

A few days later the city was formally surrendered to the Prussians, and on 29 January the German flag was hoisted on the forts.

The elections which were now held for the purpose of ratifying the terms of peace were carefully manipulated by the reactionary elements throughout the provinces — although Paris remained stoutly Republican — and showed an enormous clerical and monarchical

This so-called “National Assembly,” not content with fulfilling its mandate of settling the terms of peace, at once set about openly scheming for the overthrow of the Republic.

Adolphe Thiers was immediately constituted chief of the Executive by the Assembly.

The next thing to do was to deal with the armed populace, the workmen and small middle class, in the shape of the various bodies of National Guards throughout the country, above all the most numerous, most determined, and owing to its position, most influential of them, the National Guard of Paris.

In stipulating the surrender of Paris, Jules Favre, acting for the Government of National Defence, had arranged for the retention of their arms by the Paris Nationals. The Government well knew that any attempt to disarm this proletarian army would be met by a resistance with which they had no adequate means of dealing.

But as soon as the conditions of peace were definitely settled the hostility of the new assembly to Republican Paris became marked, and the intention of crushing all revolutionary elements, first and foremost the National Guard, was openly shown.

The city, from the beginning of February to 18 March, was sullenly standing at bay against the Assembly and a French Government, which did not as yet dare to disarm them.

The National Assembly of reactionary bourgeois riff-raff, hurriedly elected at the beginning of February for the sole purpose of concluding peace, had no sooner met at Bordeaux than it began insulting the deputies for Paris. The terms of peace ratified, it resolved to continue its functions as a legislative body in defiance of the limitation of its mandate. But this was not all.

The Assembly passed a resolution to depose Paris as capital of France and transfer the government to Versailles, 20 kilometers to the west of Paris. Rumours were confirmed of the projected immediate suppression of the only resource of the workmen, their 1 shilling 3 pence a day as National Guards, of their impending disarmament, and, as if of set purpose to drive them on to starvation and despair, of the undelayed enforcement of all overdue bills and all arrears of rent suspended during the Prussian siege.

Throughout February the International and other workmen’s and revolutionary associations had been active.

Various mass meetings were held and committees formed — the upshot of which was the constitution of the Central Committee of the National Guard, three members being elected for each arrondissement. The Central Committee was composed entirely of obscure men, till then utterly unknown to public life, but elected for their integrity and practical capacity by the comrades of their district.

The workers of Paris were determined to resist. The storm was visibly impending; but the Central Committee, backed by the International and the workmen’s organisations, declared that the first shot should be fired by the other side.

Louis Aldophe Thiers (now President of the new Third Republic) and his Ministers arrived in Paris on 15 March, and at once set to work to disarm the popular force of the metropolis.

The Government had, at the most, 25,000 considerably demoralised and otherwise not very reliable troops, while the National Guard numbered nearly 100,000 men, and although some few battalions might possibly have been gone over to the assembly, yet they were an insignificant number as against those loyal to the Central Committee. Under these unfavourable conditions, Thiers decided to begin operations.

The first thing to be done was to seize the cannon; and accordingly the order was secretly given, on the 17th, for 250 pieces of ordnance to be removed from Montmartre. It was all but executed by surprise at 3 o’clock on the morning of the 18th by a couple of brigades of the regular army, scarcely any resistance being offered.

But though the cannons were seized while the people were asleep, with a fatal want of foresight the Government omitted to provide any means of transport, and while this was under way Montmartre awoke and began to take in the situation.

The women were the first to move. Surrounding the cannon, they appealed to the soldiers, who hesitated.

Meanwhile the rappel was beaten by a couple of drums throughout the district, and bodies of guards began to roll up. Stragglers from the regular army joined them, and the whole throng penetrated up to the Buttes Montmartre, defended by a brigade under General Lecomte, some of the foremost men of which made signs of fraternisation.

Lecomte seeing this, ordered the arrest of the recalcitrants, at the same time threatening them with the words, “You shall receive your deserts.” A few shots were exchanged between federals and regulars, without doing much harm, when suddenly a body of guards, the butt end of their muskets up, accompanied by a motley crowd, poured out of a neighbouring street.

Lecomte gave the order to fire three times. His men stood immovable. The crowd pushed forward and fraternised with the troops, who immediately afterwards seized the ruffian with his officers. The soldiers whom he had just before arrested wanted to shoot him forthwith, but some Nationals rescued him and took him to the headquarters of the staff of the National Guard, where they made him sign an order for the evacuation of his positions.

Similar incidents occurred with the other brigades. There was hardly any resistance to the insurrection. The soldiers fraternised on all sides. In three hours, that is, by 11 o’clock, all was over, almost all the cannon recaptured, almost all the battalions of the
National Guard afoot, joined by numbers of regulars – in short, the insurrectionaries were master of the field. The Government could do nothing: a few hundred men were the most that rallied to them.

Thiers, seeing the whole of Paris against him, escaped by a back door from the Hotel de Ville to Versailles. The insurrection had been a purely spontaneous popular movement. The Central Committee did not meet till comparatively late in the day. This lack of preparation and organisation had its drawbacks, however, as we shall presently see.

At half-past four in the afternoon, General Clement Thomas, who had had a hand in the slaughtering of the insurgents in 1848, was arrested. There were many who tried to rescue him from a summary execution, crying, “Wait for the Committee!” “Constitute a court-martial!” but without avail. The old martinet was thrust against a wall in the Rue des Rosiers, and riddled with bullets.

Of course, the bourgeois journals everywhere bellowed loudly at the execution of these two rascally bandits of their cause.

The Central Committee and the staff of the National Guard now began to take measures for occupying the Government offices and the chief strategical positions.

Late at night Vinoy succeeded in getting off his troops from the various barracks of Paris. Versailles was, of course, the rallying point of the whole crew.

Allowing the Government and troops to slip through their fingers was the first serious mistake made by the insurrection. This was owing to lack of discipline, organisation, and preparedness. Nothing would have been easier, if the Committee had been active and alert, than to have closed all the gates, arrested all the governmental authorities, civil and military, to await their trial.

On 19 March the red flag was waving over the Hotel de Ville and all the public buildings of the city. The revolution had triumphed, but it had made its first mistake; it had allowed the heads of the Government to escape with the elements of an army.

Two of the members alone had the presence of mind to suggest the only course to retrieve the previous day’s mistake — to march at once on Versailles, then virtually at their mercy, disperse the Assembly, and arrest the ringleaders of the reaction. The others hung on legal technicalities.

Meanwhile the clearing of the Government offices and the transference of yet more military to Versailles still went on. But the Central Committee was too eager to proceed to the elections for the Commune, to think of shutting the gates, or indeed of anything else.

In order to legalise the situation and put the revolution right with the rest of France, the co-operation of the deputies for Paris and of the mayors was resolved to be sought, in concert with whom the Committee wished to proclaim the elections.

The Thiers crew now played out their last card, in the final number which they issued of the Journal Officiel, alleging the Committee to have “assassinated” in cold blood the Generals Lecomte and Clement-Thomas, and asking whether the National Guard would take upon itself the responsibility for these “assassinations”.

The Committee did not allow itself to be bullied into disavowing these righteous, if too hasty, acts of popular justice; but confined itself to inserting a note in the new number of the Journal Officiel (which from this day passed into its hands), explaining its true position with respect to them.

The Governmental appeal had little effect on the National Guard, though it secured the defection of the Quartier Latin (the students), hitherto to the fore in all revolutions.

Its essentially bourgeois character, despite its bohemian veneer, now became clearly

Georges Clemenceau — who would to be Prime Minister of France in World War One — was spokesman for the delegation of mayors who came to the Hotel de Ville to urge the Committee to abdicate its functions to the deputies and mayors, who would use their best offices to obtain satisfaction for Paris from the Assembly.

Eugene Varlin, one of the Committee, explained that what was wanted was no mere municipality, but a quasi-autonomous Paris, with police and legislative power, united to the rest of France by the bond of federal union alone.

Next morning the mayors made a final attempt to get possession of the Hotel de Ville, and sent one of their number to demand it of the Committee. The latter refused to abdicate until a Commune had been elected, and forthwith issued a proclamation that the elections would be held on, 22 March.

It was only too obvious that a surrender to the deputies and mayors meant a complete knuckling down to Thiers and his National Assembly.

The next thing for the Committee to do was to reorganise the public services, purposely thrown into as much disorder as possible by their late occupants prior to their flight.

The government hoped thereby is render it impossible for their successors to carry on the administration of the great metropolis.

The newcomers, however, set bravely to work, and overcame all obstacles of this kind.

On 21 March the Central Committee suspended the sale of pawned goods, forbade landlords to evict their tenants until further notice, and prolonged the National Guardsmen’s voucher bills for a month.

The same day the radical deputies and mayors made a protest against the impending elections as illegal — falsely alleging, at the same time, that the Assembly had guaranteed the maintenance of the National Guard, the municipal elections at an early date, and other things.

The press and all the respectability of the capital joined in a chorus of denunciation of the elections and of the Committee’s action. A bourgeois and petit-bourgeois rabble paraded the Place de la Bourse, shouting “Down with the Committee.” “Long live the Assembly!”

The hostility of a few of the arrondissments was so great that it became necessary to postpone the elections till the following day.

All this time Versailles, its recently-arrived Assembly, and all their hangers-on, were
in a state of abject and grovelling panic. News came in of revolts in several towns of the departments, and there was an hourly dread of the approach of the battalions of the National Guard. Jules Favre, delivered an harangue in the Chamber, denouncing the insurrection in choice expletives and bristling with threatenings and slaughter at Paris —an harangue which the cowering crew of terrified reactionists applauded with wild extravagance

The next day the black-coated rabble who had paraded shouting “down with the Commune!” together with some journalists and others, with Admiral Suisset at their back, again set forth, many of them with arms concealed in their clothes, this time towards the Place Vendôme, the object being to expel the National Guards from that position under cover of a peaceful demonstration.

Spying two sentries of the National Guard, they made for them and nearly murdered them.
Seeing this, about 200 Guards promptly took up their position at the top of the Rue de la Paix. They were greeted with savage cries, and sword-sticks and revolvers were levelled at them.

The muskets of the “Nationals” then went off, leaving a dozen dead, and a large number of revolvers, sword-sticks, and hats in the street. The mob scattered in all directions, yelling.

Of course the bourgeois press everywhere made immense capital out of this incident.
Punch’s celebrated special constable —-who says to the Chartist, “If I kill you, mind, it’s nothing; but if you kill me, by George! it’s murder” — had nothing on the journalists from “respectable” middle-class newspapers on this occasion.

It was impossible for “the party of order” to gain any real foothold within the city. The Committee sent battalions of National Guards into all the reactionary quarters, and quiet, if not “order,” inside Paris at least, was re-established.

A few days previously two members of the Committee, Varlin and Jourde, had, through Rothschild, obtained a million francs from the Bank of France. This was now exhausted with the initial expenses of organising the public services, and the wages of the National Guard.

The Committee again sent Varlin and Jourde to the Bank but this time they were received with insults, and gentle persuasion in the shape of a couple of battalions of the National Guard had to be forwarded in order to get the required loan.

This question of the bank was a crucial one. Its treatment by the Committee, and then by the Commune showed a want of grasp of the situation, and constituted another fatal blunder of the revolution.

There was enough in specie and in securities in the Bank to have bought up the whole of the Versailles army. In addition to this there were ninety thousand titles of depositors to serve as hostages for the good behaviour of the Government and the middle-classes throughout France.

The Committee, and afterwards the Commune, instead of seizing the whole concern, allowed the management to remain, with its entire staff, barring the Chief Governor, who had fled, and went cap in hand from time to time to solicit the requisite funds.

Now the mayors concentrated all their efforts towards trying to further postpone the elections. These had, after two postponements, been definitely fixed by the Committee for Sunday 20 March. The mayors proposed the 30th. The Committee, however, stuck to the 26th, and eventually five mayors, including Clemenceau, finding resistance hopeless, reluctantly signed a manifesto sanctioning the elections. The adhesion of the mayors, such as it was, gave the elections the cachet of technical legality.

On the Sunday, 287,000 men accordingly went to the poll (women did not have the vote), and the Paris Commune was elected and proclaimed amid general rejoicing.

On the Monday there was a muster of National Guards (arms piled up in front of them) and civilian electors before the Hotel de Ville to meet the newly installed representatives of Paris. Salutes of cannon and bands playing the Marseillaise evoked enthusiastic shouts of joy.

The spies of Versailles declared the whole of Paris infected.

The members of the new Commune appeared again and again on the balcony of the Hotel de Ville in response to the deafening shouts which demanded them. Amongst the elected, though the majority were revolutionists, and, in their way, socialists, there were a small number of bourgeois Liberals and Radicals chosen.

At the first meeting of the Commune, the well-meaning bourgeois Beslay was chosen President by virtue of his seniority, and made a not altogether bad opening speech.
The Commune next day selected nine committees including an Executive Committee (composed of Lefrancais, Duval, an old forty-eighter, Felix Pyat, Bergeret, Tridon, Eudes, and the Blanquist, and future Socialist Party leader, Vaillant).

One of the first acts of the Commune was to grant a complete release from all rent from October, 1870, to July, 1871. Thus a vast number of poor people were relieved from a crushing liability which they were utterly unable to meet without ruin.

But the Commune omitted to perform two important duties which the situation imperatively demanded. The first was to issue a clear and easily intelligible manifesto explaining its programme and plan of action.

The second and if anything still more serious omission was not keeping in touch with the provinces. Immediately after 18 March, Lyons, Marseilles, St. Etienne, Narbonne, Toulouse, and other towns started Communes, some of them, notably Marseilles and Narbonne, with considerable chances of success.

But they received no support or even communications from the head centre of the movement, Paris.

As a consequence, isolated materially and morally, they most of them came to grief in a few days.

Marseilles and Narbonne held out the longest but in a fortnight the whole commune movement in the provinces was dead. Thiers worked to detach the provinces from all sympathy with Paris, maligning the city and the Revolution, misrepresenting every fact and fabricating every lie.

Thiers stopped all goods trains for Paris and to cut off all the postal communications. The Committee and Commune, hoping to the last that peace would be preserved, took no further steps for the eventuality of war.

The Assembly, on its side, consolided their army, which was now strengthened by several regiments of released prisoners of war from Germany.

By the end of March all the “moderate” members of the Commune had resigned, with the exception of old Beslay. Meanwhile, the “respectable” population, the friends of “order,” were migrating en masse to Versailles.

On 1 April Thiers officially declared war, and the same day, without any warning, the Versaillese opened on Paris. Everywhere within the city was bustle and confusion.

That day the Versaillese attacked and drove off an inadequate garrison of Federals at Courbevoie, taking five prisoners, one a lad of fifteen, all of whom they murdered in cold blood.

This was the beginning of the series of bourgeois atrocities which culminated in the mass slaughter of the “bloody week” in May, after the defeat of the Commune.

After much discussion a sortie was decided upon by the military authorities of the Commune for the next day. Due to the lack of military experience the elementary requisites of a campaign were neglected; artillery, ambulances and ammunition wagons were everywhere else except where they should have been

On the morning of the 3 April, a column, 10,000 men strong but with only eight cannon, led by Bergeret, had reached the bridge at Neuilly, when suddenly shells burst from the great fortress, spreading death and destruction in the ranks of the Federals and severing the column into two halves.

Panic, confusion, and cries of “treachery” overwhelmed everything.

Most of the Guard scattered in all directions, and finally found their way back to Paris, only about 1,200 remaining with Bergeret, and pushing on. They were supported by Flourens who, with only a thousand men (the rest having straggled off, such was the state of discipline), routed the Versaillese vanguard, and occupied the village of Bougival.

A whole Versaillese army corps was directed against this detachment, and the Parisian vanguard had to fall back on Reuil, where a few men had held the position, the object being to cover Bergeret’s retreat. Flourens was here surprised with his staff, and killed, his head cleft with a sabre.

The disaster of 3 April, however, had the effect of stirring up the whole latent resisting strength of the National Guard. Next day all the forts were manned.

Yet to the onlooker versed in military lore it was evident that the situation meant a prolonged death agony for Paris. In a few days the Commune was everywhere on the defensive.

Meanwhile strict care was taken by the Versaillese to prevent any tendency favourable to Paris from manifesting itself at Versailles. Officers who merely expressed regret at the fratricidal struggle were secretly murdered by order of the villains with whom the whole of the “respectable” classes of Europe sided.

On the 6 April took place the funeral of those killed in the disastrous sortie of the 3rd, and an imposing sight it was. Two hundred thousand accompanied the catafalque to the Pere la Chaise cemetery. Five members of the Commune, headed by the old hero of 1848, Delescluze, followed as chief mourners. At the grave, the aged man, the father of the revolution, spoke a few words, after which the vast concourse dispersed.

From this time forward the history of the Commune is largely a history of military blunders and incapacity allied with bravery and good intentions.

Cluseret now entered upon his duties as delegate of war. His name was already known to Englishmen owing to his connection with the Fenian attack on Chester Castle in 1867.

The cowardly assassinations of Flourens (and Duval, another officer captured in battle and then killed) had excited everyone. In deference to public opinion the Commune ordered the seizure of hostages in full accordance with the practice recognised by war. Darboy, the Archbishop of Paris, Lagarde, his grand-vicar, Daguerry, Curé of the Madeleine, Bonjean, Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal, Jecker, a financial politician and a few Jesuits were seized.

A decree and a proclarmation were then issued threatening reprisals in the event of any further murders on the part of the Versaillese. But the decree remained a dead letter.

Though the Versaillese continued their cold-blooded assassination of prisoners, no
reprisals were taken.

The fatal incapacity and weakness of the Commune now for the first time became apparent in internal and external policy. Beyond two or three comparatively unimportant decrees a fortnight showed no constructive work done.

Meanwhile immense heroism was displayed at certain points of the outworks by the Federal troops. The Porte Maillot, a frightful position, exposed to the full fire of Fort Valerien, was held for seven weeks by successive relays of men.

It was now that Dombrowski, the Pole, appeared upon the scene. By his calm fearlessness and dashing courage, performed incredible feats with the slenderest means. He swept the Versaillese from Asnières, while his equally heroic brother took the Castle of Bécon. But these isolated flashes of momentary success could not materially affect the situation.

Thiers would not hear of conciliation or compromise, not even a truce or armistice, nothing but unconditional surrender.

Now, the Commune decided to issue a political programme. This programme was mainly the work of a journalist, Pierre Denis, assisted by Delescluze.

In the forefront of the new declaration, which demanded the recognition of the republic, Denis placed the demand for the autonomy of the township or commune (irrespective of its size) throughout France. Immediately, only the autonomy of Paris which was called for.

The rest of France was to follow suit as best it could.

The rights of the Commune were defined as including the voting of the budget, of taxation, the organisation and control of the local services, magistracy, police, and education, the administration of communal wealth etc, in short, to all intents complete autonomy

The idea of constituting Paris a solitary island in the midst of the ocean of provincial France in the vague hope that other islands would spring up in time of themselves, and form an archipelago, was little better than a crude absurdity. The manifesto was accepted almost without discussion by the Commune, so perfunctory had its proceedings become.

As a result of a dispute the verification of elections, there were now two distinct parties within the council of the Commune, the so-called “majority” and “minority.” Their conflict became increasingly bitter and personal. Defence was paralysed, and decrees, good or bad, remained more often than not an empty form.

All this time the Versaillese were organising their attack, and getting into military order the reinforcements they were almost daily receiving from Germany. The army of Versailles at the end of April amounted to 130,000 men, and more were coming in.
Bismarck and the German military authorities had been only too anxious to offer Thiers and the French bourgeoisie every assistance within their power to crush their common proletarian foe.

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