“Croix de Bois Croix de Feu”
Once again, Les Joyaux de la Princesse deliver
an admirable work of art with “Croix de Bois Croix de Feu”1. The subscribers,
waiting since the reception of the first part of the subscription (a 5”
transparent flexi disc together with a numbered subscription ticket, soberly
presented in an aesthetically pleasing cover adorned with a tricolour ribbon),
can be proud to count this record amongst their collection. It is presented
– carefully inserted – in a tricolour cover marked by a Croix de Feu symbol
in its centre. The booklet encloses literary and historical documents of
great resource and certain interest, which pertinently enlighten the thematic
of this production. The seriousness and the rigour that LJDLP have applied,
yet again, to their work should definitely quiet all the backbiters and
unfounded criticisms. The use of extracts from historical political speeches
is not sufficient to make a good record. One must also have talent and
put it at the service of an intelligent and serious production. It is with
brilliance that LJDLP have succeeded in this task. The Memory of generations
sacrificed in the name of Duty due to their Homeland (The Croix de Bois)
and the Mystic of a front line war veteran’s movement (The Croix de Feu),
who thought they could recreate in civilian life the spirit of true camaraderie
and fraternity that they had experienced at the front, are present from
the first to the last second during the audition of this masterpiece and
are at the heart of the Emotion that gradually overcomes the listener.
This production has another particularity which warrants mentioning: the speeches of the leaders of the Croix de Feu movement are mainly set to the forth. Their rarity is an indication of the preliminary sound resource research work undertaken by LJDLP. In addition, the quality of their reproduction will ravish historical recordings lovers.
The first notes of the record give a foresight
of the gravity of the theme treated throughout this work. This record opens
on a long musical passage to which is grafted, in the background, an Ave
Maria sung by overwhelming male voice – which could also make one think
of the Notre Dame des Biffins2.
The second track perfectly continues the evocation of the Great War, with its cannon fire, its dead, its suffering… A long instrumental passage blended with dreadful shellings bring to our eyes scenes which could belong to the magnificent film by Raymond Bernard “Les Croix de Bois” (1932). Those who have had the curiosity and/or the opportunity to admire this cinematographic masterpiece will be overwhelmed the Cry (“Au Secours! On assasine des hommes!”3) and that Song (“Oui tu l’auras ta croix, ta croix, Oui tu l’auras ta croix, ta croix Si c’est pas la croix de guerre c’est qu’ça s’ra la croix de bois”4) which symbolise so well the sentiments that animated the Men who had survived the horror of the trenches.
The next track plunges us completely into the Croix de Feu atmosphere. The speeches from the movement’s leaders succeed each other to a backing recognisable amongst others accompanied by rolling drums. It is the moment of Revival (Debout Croix de Feu!5) and of Hope (the magnificent Croix de Feu song) before the final paroxysm reached in the next passage (for me, the most accomplished), which is of indescribable beauty and strength. Here, the Colonel de La Rocque’s (the charismatic leader of the Croix de Feu movement since 1931) oratory talents give their full measure when his voice rises and evokes France’s Genius to claim the National Reconciliation of all the Frenchmen, after the horror endured by an entire nation and its ever present memory. Set to an instrumental background, the distant echoes of a choir of poignant beauty and fragility make this passage an essential moment of this recording.
The intensity prevails on the second instalment
of this production, which continues to exploit the same vein. A magnificent
speech from Jean Ybarnegaray – retorting to the attacks aimed at the Colonel
de La Rocque – (reproduced with the original 78 rpm surface noise and the
assistance’s enthusiastic applause punctuating every highlight of the speech)
expose a few themes dear to the Croix de Feu (who, let us remind it, because
of the great Sacrifice consented for the Salvation of the Nation, considered
they had a certain moral role to play in post war France) such as the Gift
of Oneself, The Remembrance of Our Dead… The words are strong “Nous, nous
ne pardonnons pas! Car nous, nous avons le Devoir de veiller sur votre
Honneur, sur votre Paix, sur votre Fragilité, sur votre Vie (…)
Cette flamme c’est Vous! Quiconque vous attaque, nous attaque! Quiconque
vous trahit, nous trahit!”6 before becoming voluntarily indiscernible because
of the musical background, which becomes louder and louder, and takes precedence
over the speech. The call to the Awakening (Debout Croix de Feu!5) closes
brutally this passage and is continued in the lyrics of a new Croix de
A long instrumental passage then offers a propitious moment for Remembrance and Reflection before the ultimate extract that masterfully closes this production. This last extract opens again with a political speech before leaving its place to a repetitive melody mixed with cannon fire and closes on the words of the French author Maurice Genevoix, marked by a tenacious nostalgia and a strong emotional content: “Ne plus oublier, prévoir. Ecoutons la voix des tranchées et des bombes. Ce qui vient de là, c’est un cri d’Amour!”7
A question then arises: what have we done, us listeners, with this Remembrance and Our Dead?
A definitely unclassifiable production, that will also delight those who love historical sound documents - intelligently used. The seriousness and the integrity of this work deserve once again to be underlined. Likewise in no way do LJDLP vindicate any political movement, whatever it be. The Remembrance of all those who sacrificed their youth and their life to serve their Country and the Croix de Feu Mystique (in all that it has of grandness and beauty in its desire of Order and Greatness , of Friendship and Fraternity – in the precise historical context of post war France) which draws its foundations in the Horror experienced those Men in the trenches, are the only cements of this magnificent production which bears the strength of a Testimony.
The late comers, who might have missed the subscription, can still get over their loss with the – identical – picture disc version upon which are reproduced the two centre circles of the subscription version: a tract diffused by the propaganda services of the SFIO8 “L’arrivée des Croix de Feu, Ce serait l’arrivée des Croix de Bois pour tous?”9 as well as the Motto of the Croix de Feu “Patrie, Famille, Travail”10 (in response to Hate, Disorder and Deceit). The record is presented in a three part tracing paper cover on which are reproduced various photos from the booklet included with the subscription. A beautiful item with simple and carefully done graphics. Rare, to my taste, are the aesthetically accomplished picture discs to not mention this one.
Translation: Ian C.
If fascist means being in favour of creating a fascine of energies and willingness to defend the honour and the prosperity of our beloved country, we are fascists; if fascist means being a good and true Frenchman as opposed to madmen and traitors who stab the county, openly or cowardly, we are fascists; if fascist means being in favour of order, of freely consented discipline, enemies of the troubles and the vain agitations that profit only those who preach in troubled waters, we are fascists but if fascist means being in favour of brutal repression, of might at the service of individual interests, the persecution of opinions, of narrow-mindedness, the regimentation and the perpetual militarisation of the nation, we are not fascists.”
(extract from the Croix
de Feu Manifesto – association of front line combatants and war wounded
mentioned for valour, in Le Flambeau, n°1, 1st November 1929)
1. Cross of Wood Cross of Fire
2. Biffin is a nickname given to French infantry soldiers
3. “Help! Men are being murdered!”
4. “Yes you’ll get your cross, your cross, Yes you’ll get your cross, your cross, If it’s not the war cross
then it will be the wooden cross.”
5. “Stand up Croix de Feu!”
6. “We, we do not forgive! Because we, we have the duty to keep watch over your Honour, your
Peace, your Fragility, your Life (…) You are this flame! Whoever attacks you, attacks us!
Whoever betrays you, betrays us!”
7. “Forget no more, forsee. Listen to the voice of the trenches and the bombs. What comes from
there, is a cry of Love!”
8. The SFIO is the ancestor of the French socialist party.
9. “The arrival of the Croix de Feu, It would be the arrival of the Wooden Cross for all?”
10. “Country, Family, Labour”
Les Joyaux De La Princesse XIVth Edition “Croix
de Bois Croix de Feu”
- subscriptions numbered 1 to 300: 5” flexi disc + 10” blue vinyl + booklet
- subscriptions numbered 301 to 600: 5” flexi disc + 10” white vinyl + booklet
- subscriptions numbered 601 à 900: 5” flexi disc + 10” red vinyl + booklet
- 10” picture disc edition: 700 copies
available via Athanor (France) and/or de TESCO (Europe)
Les Joyaux De La Princesse
10 Rue Estienne D'Orves
37700 Saint Pierre des Corps