Small chronicle of the Paris Commune 1871

With three lines, the Central Committee established justice, beat Versailles, won Paris.

Prosper Lissagaray (1838-1901), journalist, barricade fighter, in „History of the Paris Commune of 1871“ – Allusion to the three social decrees of the Central Committee of the National Guard of 20th March

Proclamation of the Commune on 28th March 1871 on the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), engraving by A. Lamy for Le Monde illustré, 8th April 1871[1]

March 18th Government troops try to seize the cannons of the National Guard, but fail because of popular resistance. The Central Committee (CC) of the National Guard takes power, the bourgeois government flees for Versailles.

March 19th National Guard calls elections for Paris. Release of all political prisoners. Some Communards want to overthrow the government in Versailles while it is still weak. The CC of the National Guard rejects this. For Karl Marx, among others, one of two great mistakes. The second is not to confiscate the Bank of France. Within are stored 3 billion francs. Thereof the bank later would pay 258 millions to the government and only 16 millions to the commune.

March 20th Three decrees: debt moratorium, prohibition of tenants’ dismissal, suspension of the sale of mortgaged properties

March 22nd Proclamation of the commune in Lyon. Other cities follow, but none can hold out for long.

March 26th Elections to the municipal council, 500,000 eligible voters, half of them vote. In bourgeois neighbourhoods under 25%, in proletarian ones up to 76%. Women do not have the right to vote.

March 27th Government in Versailles raises invasion army, Prussia releases prisoners of war in return.

March 28th Proclamation of the Commune

March 29th First decrees: people’s armament instead of army, rent deferment. Some others: Maximum / minimum wages, separation of state and church, provision for surviving dependents of dead soldiers, abandoned plants to workers’ cooperatives, free education

April 3rd Unsuccessful attack by National Guard on Versailles, start of clashes with the government, government commits first war crimes.

April 6th Call to the province to support the Paris Commune, burning of the guillotine in Place Voltaire

April 9th Government begins to bomb Paris.

April 11th Formation of the Union des Femmes (Women’s Union)

May 16th Destruction of the Vendôme Column

May 21st Government troops enter Paris through treachery, start of street fighting, government troops massacre 20-30,000 people.

May 28th Last barricade falls, 40,000 prisoners, 10,000 convictions, amnesty only in 1880

Poster accompanying the decree (edict) of the Paris Commune of 29th March 1871 on the deferment of rents [2]

L’Actualité No. 3, April 1871 with the call to follow the fled government: “To Versailles! There they are!” by the cartoonist G. Gaillard Fils [3]

Debris of the Vendôme Column, demolished on 16 May with great applause in front of thousands of spectators. It was considered “a symbol of brute force and false glory, an affirmation of militarism…” (Decree of the Paris Commune, 12th April 1871) [4]

Laurent: Because the rent was so expensive, strangers regularly lived with us. Sometimes there were six of us sharing a room. That was quite exhausting.
Marie: My mum was always worried about the rent. I often heard her sighing secretly at night because of that.
Laurent: At least now no one is thrown out of their flat so quickly. And besides, a lot of flats are empty right now, because many rich people have left the city since the siege.
Marie: Come on, then we’ll have to take them! I want a room with huge windows where I can always see the sun.