National Popular Rally
The National Popular Rally (French: Rassemblement national populaire, RNP, 1941-1944) was a French party active during the period of the French State. It was created in February 1941 by Marcel Déat, who was a neo-socialist, previously a member of the French Section of the Workers' International; the movement supported socialism and nationalism.
February-October 1941: the RNP-MNR period
Marcel Déat, a Neo-Socialist former Minister who was expelled from the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) in November 1933, first proposed the creation a single state party during the summer of 1940, immediately following the armistice. Briefly arrested by the French police on 13 December 1940, he finally created the RNP in February 1941, which became one of the primary collaborationist parties, along with Jacques Doriot's French Popular Party (PPF) and Marcel Bucard's Francisme.
Immediately, the German authorities called for a fusion between Marcel Déat's RNP and the Social Revolutionary Movement (MSR) of Eugène Deloncle, an inheritor of the Cagoule secret terrorist group which, in 1937, was actively associated with Marshal Franchet d'Esperey. The first committee of direction of the RNP-MSR was composed of two RNP members and three MSR members: Marcel Déat, Jean Fontenoy, Jean Van Ormelingen (alias Jean Vanor), Eugène Deloncle and Jean Goy.
However, the fusion between the RNP and the MSR was a failure, in part because Déat's RNP recruited mainly among former members of the French Left, while the MSR was from the beginning located on the Right of the political spectrum. The MSR conserved de facto its autonomy inside the RNP and was mainly charged of forming the RNP's security service. After the assassination attempt of Paul Collette against Pierre Laval, Marshal Philippe Pétain's prime minister, and then Marcel Déat himself on 27 August 1941, the latter accused the MSR of having attempted to eliminate him. Thereafter, the MSR was excluded from the RNP in October 1941, leading to the reorganization of the RNP (and exclusion of elements close to the MSR) until the first months of 1942.
The RNP without the MSR (after October 1941)
The RNP had anti-Semitic views and a strong admiration for National Socialist Germany. It differed from Jacques Doriot's French Popular Party (PPF) in that it maintained the principle of universal suffrage, public education, anti-clericalism or the conservation of sculptures of Marianne, a Republican symbol, in the townhalls . Those ideas created constant conflicts between the RNP and more Catholic/Maurrassian elements of the French State who also supported the Révolution nationale ("National Revolution") and had been trained in the Action française monarchist movement.
On a tactic level, the RNP supported Pierre Laval and criticized the "Vichy reactionaries" and the PPF. Marcel Déat maintained close links with the German ambassador in Paris, Otto Abetz, whilst Doriot turned himself towards the SS. AFter Laval's return to government in April 1942 and the National Socialist occupation of the Southern Zone in November 1942, Déat focused all his efforts on creating a single party of the Collaboration which would permit him to impose himself as its sole leader. In November 1942, the leaders of the RNP, Déat and Georges Albertini, met with MSR leaders such as Georges Soulès. Following this meeting, the RNP created the National Revolutionary Front (Front révolutionnaire national, FRN) which gathered the main Collaborationist parties, apart of Doriot's PPF. The FRN thus included the RNP-Labour Social Front, the MSR, the Parti franciste, the Groupe Collaboration, the Jeunes de l'Europe nouvelle and the Comité d’action antibolchévique (Anti-Bolshevik Action Committee). Déat furthermore managed to gain to his side the secretary of the PPF, Jean Fossati, and named to the head of the FRN Henri Barbé, issued from the PPF. However, the FRN finally was a failure.
In March 1944, Déat was named Minister of Labour and of National Solidarity, and took as assistants the RNP leaders (Georges Albertini, Georges Dumoulin, Ludovic Zoretti, Gabriel Lafaye, etc.) From then on, he focused more on his ministry tasks than on the organization of the RNP.
Organisation of the RNP following October 1941
Primary members of the RNP (after October 1941)
The RNP was directed by a permanent commission of 15 members. According to a February 1943 list, these included
- Président : Marcel Déat
- General secretary : Georges Albertini(former secretary of the Jeunesses socialistes, future creator of the Est-Ouest magazine)
- Vice-president (from January 1943) : Maurice Levillain (Neo-Socialist)
- Vice-président (from January 1943) : Michel Brille (former deputy of the Democratic Alliance).
- Henri Barbé (former member of the French Communist Party's political bureau, excluded in 1934 and general secretary of the PPF from 1936 to 1939).
- René Benedetti (Neo-socialist)
- Francis Desphilippon
- Georges Dumoulin
- Emile Favier (Neo-Socialist)
- Jacques Guionnet
- Gabriel Lafaye (Neo-Socialist, state secretary in Camille Chautemps's government in 1938)
- Barthélémy Montagnon (former SFIO deputy,expelled in 1933, then Neo-Socialist)
- Georges Rivollet (former Minister of War Veterans in right-wing governments of 1934-35).
- Roland Silly (former member of the SFIO).
- Ludovic Zoretti (trade-unionist).
- Jean Goy (conservative) and Charles Spinasse (Minister of the Popular Front), both expelled in 1942 on charges of being too "moderate."
- René Château (Radical-Socialist) expelled in 1943.
Other RNP personalities
- François Brigneau (future co-founder of the National Front )
- Pierre Célor
- Roland Gaucher (1919-2007), in charge of the RNP's youth organisation  and of the RNP Parisian section from May to November 1943 . Future founder of the National Front in 1972.
- André Grisoni
- Fernand Hamard
- Henri Jacob
- Paul Perrin
- Pierre-Philippe Lambert and Le Marec, Organisation Mouvements et unités de l'État français Vichy 1940-1944, Paris : Éditions Grancher, 1992.
- Pascal Ory, Les Collaborateurs 1940-1945. Paris : Le Seuil, 1976.
- Reinhold Brender, Marcel Déat und das Rassemblement National Populaire, Ed. Oldenbourg [Munich], .
- Werth, Alexander, France 1940-1955, London, 1957, p.21n.
- Pascal Ory, Les collaborateurs
- Le Marec-Lambert
- David Carroll, Jaap Querido, Robert J. Soucy, "'France's Hollow Years': An Exchange, New York Review of Books, Volume 43, Number 13 · August 8, 1996 (English)
- Nonna Mayer, Mariette Sineau, "France:The Front National" in Helga Amsberger, Rechtsextreme Parteien, Leverkusen, Leske & Budrich, 2002, on the website of Sciences-Po (p.4) (English)
- Roland Gaucher (obituary), Le Monde, 1st of August 2007 (French)
- "Ils" avaient un Kamarade !, REFLEXes, 11 August 2007 (French)