Passing of Pierre Broué—International Contributing Editor of “Labor Standard”
We have learned with sadness and regret of the death of Pierre Broué, who for many years was one of the International Contributing Editors of Labor Standard, as well as a close associate of George Breitman and Frank Lovell, two leading figures of the American Trotskyist movement who were central to the founding of our publication (originally under the name Bulletin in Defense of Marxism).
following is a rough translation of a news report by Agence
The historian and revolutionary militant Pierre Broué, an authority on the history of the Communist movement, died during the night of July 25–26 at the age of 79. This was announced by the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR) on Tuesday, July 26. [Note: The LCR is the French section of the Fourth International (United Secretariat).]
Based in the
Broué’s name is connected with
innumerable works dealing with the history of the Communist movement. Most
notably he is the author of a monumental biography of Leon Trotsky (1,100
pages), which was published by Fayard in 1988 and has been reprinted three
times. He is also the author of some fifteen other major works, including a
history of the Communist International, or Comintern, which existed from 1919
to 1943 (published by Fayard), and a history of the Bolshevik party (published
by Minuit). Other major works by Broué were devoted to the German workers
movement of the 1920s and the workers movement in
In May 2005 he completed his “Political Memoirs” (Mémoires politiques), which he described as a collection of his reminiscences and portraits of the revolutionary men and women he had worked side by side with during his life.
He was also the director of the Institut Leon Trotski, and editor of the journal Le marxisme aujourd’hui (Marxism Today).
He was “certainly one of the most
remarkable historians of the revolutionary workers movement in
Text of LCR Communique:
“At the end of a long life as a revolutionary militant, Pierre Broué has passed away. A historian of great worth, who was true to his revolutionary convictions, Broué produced numerous works, especially on Trotsky and the history of Trotskyism, which constitute a precious acquisition for all revolutionary fighters. The LCR pays homage to his memory, unreservedly offers its condolences to his family, and assures them of its full sympathy and friendship at this sad time.”
Statement by George Saunders, Co-Managing Editor, “Labor Standard”
During most of the 1970s Pierre Broué worked very closely with George Breitman.
was the main editor and moving spirit in the publication of the fourteen-volume
series Writings of Leon Trotsky,
which covered the period 1929 to 1940, Trotsky’s “last exile,” as well as the
three-volume series Challenge of the Left
Opposition, which covered the period 1923 to 1929 (though much less
exhaustively than the Writings series).
Besides those two series, Breitman oversaw the production of a dozen or more
books and pamphlets by Trotsky on particular subjects—on China, on Britain, on
Spain, on Fascism in Germany, on France, on the Transitional Program for
socialist revolution, on the bloc with Lenin against Stalin in 1922–23, against
individual terrorism, on women and the family, on trade unions, on problems of
everyday life, on the Balkan wars, on biographical portraits, political and
personal, and reprints of the Russian-language Bulletin of the Opposition and, in English, of The Case of Leon Trotsky (text of the hearings of the commission of
inquiry into the Moscow Trials headed by John Dewey) and Not Guilty (the verdict and findings of the Dewey Commission). In
preparing or helping to prepare all this vast amount of material for
publication, mostly by the Pathfinder and Monad publishing establishments
during the 1970s, George Breitman had the continuous cooperation of Pierre Broué,
who was simultaneously editing and annotating a similar series in French, the Ecrits (Writings) of Leon Trotsky. The
correspondence between Breitman and his associate editors in
The challenges were huge. Not only were we keeping alive and making accessible the vital political ideas of one of the greatest revolutionaries of the twentieth century (Leon Trotsky), but there were innumerable challenges in keeping the historical record accurate—questions about authorship of documents, the identities behind various party pseudonyms, clarification of obscure references to events, places, people. George Breitman was a stickler for accuracy—and for translations that effectively conveyed the meaning of the original. And Pierre Broué could always be relied on for help in resolving all such questions.
memorable for me were several weeks working closely with Pierre Broué at the
Harvard Library in 1980, on the occasion of the opening of the “Closed Section”
of Trotsky’s papers. Trotsky had sold his papers, for safekeeping purposes, to
Harvard in 1940—not long before he was assassinated. Because of poor health,
George Breitman could not go to the Harvard Library, but a team of several of
us who worked closely with Breitman went to the
He told us how he had first met Trotskyists, who were doing “deep entry” work in the Stalinist-dominated French Resistance during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s. He said he had come to Trotskyist conclusions on his own and when he made this known to these comrades, they revealed that they too were Trotskyists. He said he wanted to punch them. All that time they had been Trotskyists and they hadn’t told him about it. They had left him to arrive at those ideas, or not, on his own.
later years, after many of us had been expelled from the Socialist Workers
Party by a new “leadership team,” which essentially abandoned Trotskyism, I had
the pleasure of meeting with
especially glad to hear, last year, that Pierre Broué had been in contact with
Celia Hart, the Cuban revolutionary from a family of revolutionaries, who in
the past year and a half has shown such an astute and powerful appreciation of
Trotsky. That must have gladdened
Statement by Alan Woods (excerpts):
With profound sadness we learned of the death of comrade Pierre Broué, the outstanding Trotskyist historian and veteran revolutionary militant, after a long and painful battle against cancer.
Pierre Broué will be remembered for his marvelous, books which trace the history of the international revolutionary movement and particularly the life and work of Leon Trotsky and his followers. Among these are his History of the Bolshevik Party, Communists against Stalin, [the biography] Trotsky, and many books on the Spanish and German revolution.
He was a man who dedicated his entire life to the cause of revolutionary communism. As a young man, he fought in the ranks of the French resistance against Nazi occupation. He joined the Young Communists, and soon adopted the standpoint of Trotskyism, which he has consistently defended ever since.
In the last years of his life, Pierre moved close to the political positions of the International Marxist Tendency, the public expression of which is Marxist.com.
Pierre Broué enthusiastically supported the Leon Trotsky publishing project, which we launched two years ago. He recently wrote a preface to our edition of Not Guilty, the conclusion of the Dewey Commission on the Moscow Trials, which has been out of print for many years.
The death of Pierre Broué represents an irreparable loss for international Marxism. Had he lived, we have no doubt that he would have produced even more works of lasting importance for our movement.
We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Pierre’s family, friends, and comrades, in particular Jean-Pierre, his close collaborator, comrade, and friend.