Ludovic-Oscar Frossard

Ludovic-Oscar Frossard (5 March 1889 – 11 February 1946), also known as L.-O. Frossard or Oscar Frossard, was a French socialist and communist politician. He was a founding member in 1905 and Secretary-General of the French Socialist Party (SFIO) from 1918 to 1920, as well as a founding member and Secretary-General of the French Communist Party (PCF) from 1920 to 1922.

On 1 January 1923 Frossard resigned his positions and left the Communist movement over political differences. Frossard briefly attempted to establish an independent Communist political organization before returning to the ranks of the SFIO, gaining election to parliament under that party's banner in 1928, 1932, and 1936.

From 1935 until 1940 Frossard held a series of ministerial positions in successive governments of Pierre Laval, Albert Sarraut, Camille Chautemps, Léon Blum, Édouard Daladier, Paul Reynaud, and the first government of Philippe Pétain. Following the armistice between France and Nazi Germany, Frossard declined to participate in the Vichy French government headed by Pétain, but continued to work as a journalist. His position led to his investigation, trial, and acquittal over accusations of collaborationism following the fall of the Pétain regime.

Early years

He was born 5 March 1889 in Foussemagne, Territoire de Belfort, France. His father was a saddlemaker who was dedicated to his son's education and success in life.[1]

Following completion of his schooling, Frossard became a schoolteacher, also working as a journalist.[2] He also became involve in Socialist politics, joining the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (SFIO), at the time of its formation in 1905.[2]

Early political career

During World War I, Frossard supported the pacifist minority faction of the SFIO.[2] As the bloody conflict ground on without remit, Frossard's antiwar perspective became the majority view in the SFIO, leading to his election as Secretary-General of the party in 1918.[2] He would remain in that capacity until the SFIO split into socialist and communist wings at the December 1920 Congress at Tours.[2]

In the summer of 1920 Frossard travelled to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic along with his party comrade, Marcel Cachin; the two participated in the 2nd World Congress of the Communist International.[2]

Frossard was active upon his return to France in advocating for the affiliation of the SFIO to the Comintern, and he departed with the left wing at the Tours Congress to form the Communist Party of France (PCF); he was its Secretary-General.[2] Frossard was twice re-elected as the head of the PhD and was endorsed both at its 2nd Congress at Marseilles in December 1921 and its 3rd Congress at Paris in October 1922.[2]

As the Comintern developed, Frossard came into disagreement with several of its policies, which brought him into conflict.[2] He traveled again to Moscow in June 1922 to serve as a delegate to the 2nd Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI), a journey that marked his second and final trip to Soviet Russia.[2] Although he did not attend the 4th World Congress of the Comintern in November 1922, he was still elected a member of ECCI at that gathering, his last high position in the French Communist movement.[2]

Return to SFIO

Frossard's dissatisfaction with the Comintern remained, however, and on 1 January 1923, he wrote a letter resigning from the Communist Party.[2] He initially attempted to form a dissident Communist group but ultimately failed in this task and returned to participation in the SFIO, now headed by Léon Blum.[2]

Elected to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower chamber of the French Third Republic, platform with the 1928 and the 1932 Cartel des gauches'.

Later career

He quit the SFIO group after the 1936 elections. His departure did not prevent him from becoming Minister of Propaganda (and the first one ever in this capacity) in Blum's Second Popular Front Ministry (March–April 1938).

From 1935, Frossard had been a member of the governments of Pierre Laval and Albert Sarraut (as Labor Minister) as well as that of Camille Chautemps (as Minister of State of the Services of the Presidency of the Council). Afterwards, he served as Minister of Public Works under Radical Édouard Daladier and again as Minister of Propaganda under conservative Paul Reynaud.

Frossard was made Minister of Public Works and Transmissions in the First Government of Philippe Pétain after the Battle of France and the beginning of Nazi Germany's occupation of France. After the signing of the armistice between France and Germany, Frossard declined to be part of any Vichy France executive, but he still lent the regime tacit support by working as a journalist.[2] Suspicion of collaboration with the enemy led to an enquiry into his activities at the end of World War II, but he was soon cleared.[2]

Death and legacy

Frossard died 11 February 1946 in Paris.

Frossard's son, André Frossard, was a journalist and writer who converted into Catholicism in 1935.


  1. Albert S. Lindemann, The "Red Years": European Socialism Versus Bolshevism, 1919-1921. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1974; pg. 153.
  2. Branko Lazitch and Milorad M. Drachkovitch, Biographical Dictionary of the Comintern. New, Revised, and Expanded Edition. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1986; pg. 128.

Further reading

  • Philippe Robrieux, Histoire Intérieure du Parti Communiste, vol. 1–2, Fayard
Political offices
Preceded by
Minister of Propaganda
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Minister of Propaganda
Succeeded by
Jean Prouvost
Party political offices
Preceded by
New position
General Secretary of the French Communist Party
Succeeded by
Louis Sellier
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