A short biography of French anarchist and factory militant André Nedelec.
Born 1926 - France, died 15 October 2000 - France
André ‘Dede’ Nedelec died on 15th October 2000 just before his 75th birthday, after long years of suffering from a crippling illness. Up to the end he maintained a lively intellect and a continuing interest in the libertarian movement.
He was one of the founders of the Organisation Pensee Bataille (OPB – Thought and Struggle Organisation) tendency inside the Federation Anarchiste, alongside Georges Fontenis.
The bitter controversy over the OPB still continues to this day - was this secret group that gained control of the FA and drove out its adversaries devious and intolerant or was it an attempt by the most active in the FA members to reaffirm the class struggle and organisational bases of anarchism?
Nedelec was one of the founders of the factory group, the Groupe Makhno in the Renault factories at Boulogne-Billancourt. He and Gilbert Devillard met in the factory in 1949 after several strikes and stoppages. Devillard was a member of the Sacco and Vanzetti group (FA) of the 5th and 6th arrondissements of Paris. They decided to start selling the FA paper Le Libertaire at the factory gates and at the entrances to the Billancourt and Marcel-Sembat metro stations.
There was much opposition from the Stalinists who thought the factory belonged to them. Bear in mind that this was a period of triumphant Stalinism when the Communist Party gained 25% at elections.
They sold a hundred papers on a regular weekly basis and decided to move from the normal activities of paper-selling in the Latin Quarter amid the Saturday night public meetings to establishing a factory group. Two Spanish comrades of around the same age as they - mid 20s - who had been in the Argeles concentration camp (which held refugees from Franco’s Spain), joined them. During the month long strike at Renault in 1950 they sold Le Libertaire at the factory gate under very difficult circumstances. They took a small quantity of papers at a time, hiding the rest in the pouches of motor scooters, as the thugs of the Communist Party were often hovering around, and they were forced to defend themselves physically on many occasions. In the end the combined pressure of the Renault management and the Stalinists forced them to give up paper sales.
Nedelec continued to be active after the FA changed its name to the Federation Communiste Libertaire (FCL). He was imprisoned during the Algerian war as the result of an attack on the offices of the far right Poujadists. In this period the FCL was forced underground and Le Libertaire shut down by the authorities. As a result he experienced further difficulties. With the disappearance of the FCL Nedelec joined the Union des Gauches Socialistes which then transformed itself into the Parti Socialiste Unifiee (nearest British equivalent would be the Independent Labour Party).
He returned to the lIe de Groix where he was born. As a good sailor and an exceptional metal worker, he strongly contributed to the rebirth of the coastal fishing vessels. He remained in contact with old comrades from the FA/FCL days.
Gilbert Devillard reminisces “The Billancourt factory has practically disappeared. There now no more production workshops where they made automobiles. I live not far from these ruins. When I frequently pass by these places where we were present, memories come flooding back. André Nedelec was present. Adieu comrade Nedelec.”
Based on an article by Gil Devillard which appeared in "Alternative Libertaire", January 2001.