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Page history last edited by Annika Weinmann 6 years, 4 months ago

Interview with a contemporary witness 

Nottingham, the 26/2/18

Jean-Marie Saint-Lu was 25 years old during the Mai 68 movement and in his final year of university at Paris-Sorbonne. He was very active and participated in numerous student demonstrations during this period. Before the general closure of universities, Saint-Lu founded a committee to discuss exams (agrégations) with the dean - he wanted them to be postponed to September, as many students had injured themselves during the protests and would not have been able to complete them before. As head of this Committee, he also refused to hang a black flag on the Institute of Spanish Studies despite protest from other students; every other faculty (apart from the Ecole Normale Supérieure) did this in solidarity of the March 22 Movement. This however meant that this school wasn’t occupied by police forces and phone lines continue to work.

Jean-Marie Saint-Lu later became a university professor at Paris X-Nanterre and the University of Toulouse and translator for Spanish Literature. 


 Source: https://www.lacontreallee.com/auteurs/jean-marie-saint-lu-traducteur 



What was the climate like at the beginning of the protests amongst students? 

At the beginning it was rather sceptic; we thought it was just the work of some anarchist students, so we looked on from a distance. But soon after the students arrests and police violence at the demonstration of March 22 led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, there was a great surge of enthusiasm and a much more general mobilization of all the students against authority in all its forms.  


How / to what extent were the first events covered in the media? 

Very quickly, peripheral radio stations such as RTL, Europe 1 and Radio Monte-Carlo followed the events live and commented continuously with a lot of objectivity and sympathy for the students. However, national radio stations like France Inter took longer to react and remained much more reserved and critical. The same is the case for the print media; except for ‘Le Monde’ which devoted articles to the events quite quickly.


What was the reaction of the general public like? 

After a fairly neutral first observation period, the population reacted with sympathy as well as soon as there were arrests and injuries among the students. People who were hostile to the movement did not express themselves very much, whereas those who saw things in a positive way interacted and discussed a lot with each other; there were always people talking about it on the streets. Everyone talked to each other with a sense of general euphoria, solidarity and great hope that things could change. 


When did you get the feeling that it was something “serious” and not just a one-time protest? 

After the violent fights of the night of May 11-12, the workers also became unified and showed solidarity and the protest became general. It is from the enormous demonstration of May 13 that everyone understood that the situation was serious; especially with the widespread strikes nothing was working in France - no trains, no fuel, universities were closed, exams postponed…



Version originale: 


Interview avec Jean-Marie Saint-Lu, un témoin de l'époque 

Nottingham, le 26/2/18 


Comment était le climat entre les étudiants au début?

Au début le climat était un peu sceptique, on pensait que c’était le fait de quelques étudiants anarchistes et on regardait les choses de loin. Mais rapidement, après les arrestations d’étudiants et les violences de la police lors de la manifestation du 22 mars menée par Daniel Cohn-Bendit, il y a eu un grand élan d’enthousiasme et une mobilisation beaucoup plus générale de tous les étudiants contre l’autorité sous toutes ses formes.


Comment / jusqu'au quelles dimensions est-ce que les medias ont parlé de ces événements?

Très vite, les radios périphériques comme RTL, Europe 1 et Radio Monte-Carlo ont suivi en direct les événements et commenté en continu avec beaucoup d’objectivité et de sympathie pour le mouvement, alors que les chaînes de radio nationales comme France Inter ont été plus longues à réagir et beaucoup plus réservées et critiques, de même pour la presse écrite, sauf le journal « Le Monde » qui a assez vite consacré des articles aux événements.


Comment était la réaction du public général?

Dans la population aussi après un premier temps d’observation assez neutre, on a réagi avec sympathie dès qu’il y a eu des arrestations et des blessés parmi les étudiants. Les gens qui étaient hostiles au mouvement ne s’extériorisaient pas beaucoup, alors que ceux qui voyaient les choses de façon positive discutaient beaucoup entre eux, il y avait tout le temps du monde dans les rues et tout le monde parlait à tout le monde dans une sorte d’euphorie générale, de solidarité et de grand espoir que les choses changent.


Quand est-ce que vous avez eu le sentiment que ça pourrait être quelque chose 'sérieuse' et pas seulement une protest singulier pour le premier fois?

Après les violentes bagarres de la nuit du 11-12 mai, les ouvriers aussi se sont solidarisés et la contestation est devenue générale. Et c’est à partir de la grande manifestation du 13 mai que tout le monde a compris que la situation était grave , d’autant qu’avec les grèves généralisées plus rien ne fonctionnait dans le pays, plus de trains, plus d’essences, universités fermées, examens reportés à septembre etc…


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