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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Disparition du journaliste Jacques Coubard

by Lucien San-Biagio

In Memory of Jacques Coubard, Journalist

Translated Saturday 9 June 2012, by Henry Crapo

Jacques Coubard, former adjoint editor-in-chief of l’Humanité, died on Wednesday, 6 June.

Born to an old communist family from the Maine-et-Loire, he was born on 8 October 1929 in Trélazé. His mother a seamstress, grandfather a miner for roof-tiling material [1], member of the Guesdiste workers’ party, his father a metallurgist, then agent for the telephone lines of the Post and Telegraph, he was very proud of origins among workers and militants. His father and grandfather were in the resistance, the former jailed in Pithiviers, the latter in Chateaubriant, then in Voves. And he himself, who joined the Communist Youth in August 1944, participated in the creation of a group of JC in Trélazé, carrying clandestine tracts that his father delivered.

Joining the Communist Party in March 1945 in Levallois, he makes his debut in the press by becoming head of the Communist weekly in the city.

After finishing high school in Suresnes, he passes the first part of the baccalauréat. But his communist friends, with a worker mentality, will convince him to abandon his studies in 1949 to become milling machine operator, a trade he will not pursue.

He joins the school of French Communist Party (PCF), its Central School of Journalism, on 1st August 1950, in the political section, then headed by Jean Recanati, before performing his miltary service from October 1950 to October 1951, then working for the l’Humanité-Dimanche in 1953.

From January 1956 to May 1958 he is correspondent for l’Humanité in Warsaw. This is where he witnesses, sadly but with foresight, the episode of the twentieth congress of the Soviet Communist Party and the denunciation of Stalin’s crimes. He reads the report that Khrushchev "sold on the black market" in Poland, as he recounted in 2006 at a symposium on "The PCF and the year 1956", organized by the Departmental Archives of Seine-Saint-Denis. He tells how he received Rabaté Octave, hero of the PCF, a former deportee, who came specially to Warsaw and "collapses then, suddenly, before me, in tears."

He recounts also his visit to the workers of Poznan and his belief that "things are not quite as they say, this was not the coming of the working class to power." And he reveals the censorship of which he was the object, when his article on Poznan, already published in the first edition of l’Humanité-Dimanche, was removed from the second edition for "error of judgment." And he explains, in an aside, that, received by Etienne Fajon on his return to France, Fajon said he rather agreed with him, but could not do otherwise.

But the vicissitudes of his life as a communist journalist never impinges upon his deep conviction as an activist for progressive transformation of society.

From 1958 to 1978 Coubard Jacques is a member of the section on "foreign policy". He travels the world, from the Greek colonels to Afghanistan at war. But his field of concentration is progressively becoming the Middle East. He also writes a book on "The Six Day War" [[Books written by Jacques Coubard: Mikis Théodorakis, Julliard 1968, La guerre des six jours (The Six-Day War), Editions sociales 1968, Nasser, Editeurs français réunis, 1973] ], makes several trips to Egypt or Palestine. His memory of a report filed about Fedayns palestiniens who had participated in a skirmish against armed Israeli army is no short of seasoning, even as he heard the bullets whistle by very closely.

Finally, Jacques Coubard is above all an associate editor-in-chief, greatly appreciated by his colleagues since 1978. Always abreast of the latest news, he reads every slightest dispatch, looking for what will make the news and headline of the next day’s paper. This does not prevent him to continue to travel the world, special envoy to Beijing in June 1989 to denounce the repression at Tiananmen, or Baghdad in 1990 against the war.

Retired in December 1996, he nevertheless continues an active collaboration. Always on the lookout for new technology (he is one of the first at the newspaper to work on a personal computer), he is responsible for the website of l’Humanité in its infancy. Then he continues to study U.S. policy, a subject on which the analyses he wrote are still relevant.

In 1953, Jacques Coubard marries Lisette Grynstein, accountant, who in 1965 becomes municipal councilor of Gennevilliers, where the couple moves. They have two children. This is where they encounter a little neighbor with Algerian father and German mother, who came to their home and later became a great actress, Isabelle Adjani. She, in an interview in Le Monde in 2000, explained "In their home, there was a lot of happiness. ... They sometimes received artists: Jean Ferrat, Melina Mercouri. There was talk of Aragon, we went to the cinema ... their world was full of promise." Jacques always spoke of her with great tenderness.

Jacques Coubard was a communist journalist full of humanity. His partner, Michèle, his children and grandchildren find here at l’Humanité all the sympathy of the staff.


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