1er May 1936

1<sup>er</sup> May 1936

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Title: May 1, 1936

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1936

Date shown: May 01, 1936

Dimensions: Height 121 - Width 80

Technique and other indications: Flo poster for CGT

Storage location: CIRIP / Gesgon

Contact copyright: © CIRIP - Photo Alain GESGON - All rights reserved

© CIRIP - Photo Alain GESGON - All rights reserved

Publication date: October 2003

Historical context

A 1er Singular May

In 1936, May 1 comes barely two months after the Confederal Congress of Toulouse (March 2-5) which reunites the CGT and the CGTU, torn apart since 1922 but both have signed since January of the popular rally program. On April 26, five days earlier, the first round of legislative elections put the political parties making up this rally in a position to win. To avoid any provocation likely to weigh on the outcome of the ballot, the CGT will avoid any procession, in Paris in particular.

Image Analysis

Unity is strength

1er May wants to be a day of celebration (of unity) and of struggle (for the 40 hours, one of the first measures of the popular front government in June 36, collective contracts, for major works registered since 1934 in the program of the CGT, peace, slogan of the Popular Front "peace, bread, freedom"). The graphics summarize and translate these stated objectives literally. Since the first of May 1st, the people on the march is an image frequently used to graphically signify the meaning of the day. The poster uses this agreed code. The crowd is united, dense and almost infinite but, notwithstanding, made up of clearly identifiable individualities: workers (digger's belt), but also, at their side, a rarer phenomenon, women who are neither allegories nor mothers. suffering and, exceptionally, executives and / or employees (hat, tie). This crowd which owes to the codes in use to be often depicted marching towards a horizon represented by the sun or pushed out of frame is heading here towards the red flag, become signifier of the confederation. It is brandished by hands and forearms where we can spot, again, a woman's thin watch and sleeves (suit and white shirt) belonging to other than workers. Two clenched hands recall without reproducing the union label (visible in the frame of the poster). Unity, celebrated, is strength.


An image of the Popular Front?

The CGT envisaged reunification only in the form of a pure and simple return of the CGTU within the “old CGT”. This conception prevails in the poster, which avoids any allusion to pre-reunification organizations and chooses to express the realized class alliance, not organic unity. Completed before the results of the first round (and, a fortiori, of the second), it owes to its dynamic strength and to the celebration invoked for having nevertheless imposed itself as one of the images frequently chosen to illustrate the Popular Front. It sets out some of the strengths of his program and signifies the class alliance he claims to be. But the adequacy is not total. The red flag crystallizes here, alone, the expectations when the popular front asserted itself and built in the street by indissolubly associating it with the tricolor flag to express in this unprecedented fashion the republican and class political culture of which it was the bearer. The union is thereby erected as the exclusive actor in a victory of another kind.

  • red flag
  • Popular Front
  • labor movement
  • unionism
  • Union
  • unit
  • May 1
  • Party
  • demonstrations
  • working class


The Knife Between Teeth, Oak, 1989. Jean-Baptiste DUROSELLE, The Decadence, 1932-1938, Seuil, collection "Points Histoire", rééd.Imprimerie nationale, 1979.

To cite this article

Danielle TARTAKOWSKY, “The 1er May 1936 ”

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