Marty was born in Perpignan
, into a left-leaning but comfortable family; his father was a wine merchant. As a youngster, Marty tried to win a place in open competition for the prestigious École Navale
, the French naval academy, but failed and instead became apprenticed to a boiler maker. He later joined the French navy, becoming a mechanical engineering officer aboard the battleship Jean Bart
. In April 1919, the Jean Bart
and another dreadnought
, the France
, were sent to the Black Sea
to assist the White Russians
in the Russian Civil War
Black Sea mutiny
On 19 April 1919,
the crews of the battleships Jean Bart
(commander, capitaine de vaisseau du Couedic de Kerérant) and France
(commanded by Vice-Admiral Jean-Françoise-Charles Amet
. Although their sympathies lay with the Reds
and not with the Whites
, the crews' primary grievances were: (i) the slow rate of their demobilisation (following the end of World War I) and (ii) the small quantity and atrocious quality of the rations. The French government acceded to the mutineers demands but pursued the ringleaders. (Amongst these was Charles Tillon
, with whom Marty was to have a life-long association.) With the passage of time, Marty's precise role is unclear. He was nevertheless duly arrested, tried, and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment at hard labour.
In any event, Marty was pardoned and on his release, in 1923, he immediately joined the PCF. By all accounts, he was a charismatic character and his role in the Black Sea Mutiny did nothing to diminish his aura. He was elected, in 1924, to the French National Assembly
for the constituency of Seine-et-Oise
and became a member of the PCF Central Committee.
In the meantime, following the lead of numerous other Communist leaders, he campaigned against rising French militarism, being arrested and imprisoned in Paris's La Santé Prison
. In 1931, he became active in the Comintern
, the international umbrella group linking national communist parties and, by 1936, had been elected to both its Praesidium
(executive council) and Secretariat (administration).
Spanish Civil War
Marty was a strict disciplinarian, ready to execute his men for loss of resolve or ideological soundness. He also developed a tendency to see fifth columnists
everywhere. These qualities earned him the title of the "Butcher of Albacete". Later, "Marty... admitted that he had ordered the shooting of about 500 Brigaders,(sic) nearly one-tenth of the total killed in the war, but some question this figure".
In a report in November 1937, Comintern member and head of the Italian Communist Party
, Palmiro Togliatti
, insisted that he should "change radically his working methods" and "refrain from intervening in military and technical matters affecting the Brigades".
By April 1938 Spanish communist leaders wanted the replacement of many International Brigade commanders due to poor performance, and although Marty disagreed, he had to compromise and General Walter
and Vladimir Ćopić
World War II
In spring 1939, the Spanish Civil War ended. Instead of returning to France, Marty went to the Soviet Union
to work fulltime for the Comintern. He was still there when World War II
started. Despite the German-Soviet pact
, as an active and very prominent Communist, it was far too dangerous for him to return to Nazi-Occupied France
Marty was once again elected to the National Assembly
though high profile attacks in the press (many by men formerly under his command) had greatly diminished his influence within the party.
His career effectively ended when Étienne Fajon, a prominent Communist deputy and a minor press baron, denounced Marty and his former comrade from Black Sea Mutiny days, Charles Tillon
, as police spies
. The Affaire Marty-Tillon
, as it became known, dragged on for several months with many accusations and counteraccusations from both sides. It ended with Marty's expulsion from the PCF, on 7 December 1952.
Fajon's accusations were almost certainly false. It is likely that in a swiftly changing political climate, with the Cold War
rapidly heating up, Marty had simply become a political liability.
He wrote an account of "L'affaire Marty"
which was published in Paris in 1955.
Other people's impressions [He was] a squat figure with a white moustache, drooping jowl and oversize beret. The heroic legend woven around him in Party mythology made him one of the most powerful figures in the Comintern. Almost nobody dared challenge his authority.
He was a sharp, imperious-looking man, and looked capable of performing all the actions Hemingway and others have written about... he appeared to be vigorous, thrusting and bore evidence of long years of struggle.
A conference was called by the Chief Political Commissar - Andre Marty, a Frenchman who had been the leader of the Mutiny of the French Black Sea Fleet after the 1914-18 war. He took a liking to me, I assume because I also, to his mind, had led a Naval mutiny.
He had first made his name as the leader of a naval mutiny in the Black Sea ... He may have been a great chap in his day, but in Spain he was both a sinister and a ludicrous figure. He was a large, fat man with a bushy moustache and always wore a huge, black beret - looking like a caricature of an old-fashioned French petty bougeois. There is no doubt he was quite literally mad at this time. He always spoke in a hysterical roar, he suspected everyone of treason, or worse, listened to advice from nobody, ordered executions on little or no pretext - in short he was a real menace.
Andrè Marty is mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's novel For Whom the Bell Tolls in chapter 42.
He also figures in the first volume of Peter Weiss's novel "The Aesthetics of Resistance".
In the introduction to "Orwell In Spain",
his behaviour towards non-Communist Party pro-Republican forces is characterised by Christopher Hitchens
as "coldly hateful".
- ^ 
- ^ Antony Beevor, Battle for Spain p. 116
- ^ Antony Beevor, Battle for Spain p. 161
- ^ Beevor, Antony (2001). The Spanish Civil War. London: Cassell Military Paperbacks. p. 327. ISBN 0 304 35840 1.
- ^ Contemporary article by Michel Pablo
- ^ Marxists Org: biographical entry
- ^ Antony Beevor, Battle for Spain p. 161
- ^ Jones Union Man
- ^ Copeman Reason in Revolt
- ^ Jason Gurney, Crusade in Spain
- ^ Orwell in Spain, Penguin Classics, 2002, p. xii
Last edited on 21 December 2020, at 04:18
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