Black Sea Mutiny in the French Fleet

Black Sea Mutiny in the French Fleet

 

an uprising in April 1919 on ships of the French Navy, which had been taking part in the intervention against Soviet Russia; the most important revolutionary uprising among the interventionist forces.

A major role in preparing the mutiny was played by underground Communist organizations, which carried on revolutionary propaganda among the foreign forces; of particular importance was the work of the French group of the Foreign Board (including J. Labourbe) of the Odessa oblast committee of the Bolshevik Party. After several French ground-troop units refused to fight against Soviet power, disturbances broke out on French ships on April 16. On April 19 the sailors of the battleship France and the flagship Jean Barre mutinied; they were joined by the sailors of the battleship Justice and other vessels lying near Sevastopol’. After running up red flags on the ships, the sailors went ashore and organized a demonstration with the workers of Sevastopol’.

The uprising spread to other French ships in the Black Sea. On April 27 a mutiny broke out on the cruiser Waldeck-Rousseau, anchored in the outer roads of Odessa’s harbor. The sailors and soldiers demanded that they be sent home and that anti-Soviet intervention cease. The French government was forced to announce the evacuation of its armed forces from Soviet Russia. By early May 1919 the French Navy had left the Black Sea.

The French command dealt harshly with the insurgents, many of whom were arrested and imprisoned. The uprising was a clear expression of the solidarity of the international proletariat with Soviet Russia. Amnesty for those who took part in the Black Sea mutiny constituted a demand of the French working-class movement in the 1920’s.

G. P. DRAGUNOV

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