We live in times when the freedom of speech, later regained, tends to turn into an opportunity to intimidate the opponent through the barking noise of insult, slander and barely veiled threat. So I propose to invigorate our ears for a moment with the evocation of a character who, although an intellectual and a public figure who has expressed himself incessantly in speeches and in writing, imposes himself on history through something more old-fashioned today: by deeds.
His name is Jean Zay. He was born in France at the beginning of the 20th century, from a family of Jewish origin from Alsace. After the disaster of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, his grandfather opted for France. His father was a radical socialist politician in Orléans, where he also edited the journal Le progrès du Loiret. His mother was a Protestant teacher. In the starving France of the Third Republic, Jean Zay was born as a triple minority! It was just the beginning. After graduating, he became a journalist at Progrès and was initiated on January 24, 1926 in the "Etienne Dolet" Lodge in Orléans, in the Obedience of the Great East of France. He holds a bachelor's degree in law and a bar exam. Lawyer Jean Zay married in 1932 in the Protestant temple in his hometown, in the religion in which he had been raised.
In the same year, he was elected deputy of the radical party, the youngest elected in the history of the Third Republic, a friend of Pierre Mendès-France and Pierre Cot. Four years later, the Popular Front government offers him the portfolio of Minister of National Education and Fine Arts. There were still times when Education and Culture were seen as an indivisible instrument of a nation's future.
In three years and two months in office, Brother Jean Zay has shaken up mentalities, initiated and often imposed radical measures at the time, inspired and modern for those today, who are often proud of them without knowing in whose minds they are. they gave birth. I warn you, the following list is not exhaustive: it has unified the school curriculum at the national level; extended compulsory education from 13 to 14 years; introduced compulsory physical education for students of both sexes; promoted reading for all, setting up the famous Bibliobuses, free itinerant libraries that could reach even the most isolated villages; founded the National Center for Scientific Research, the famous CNRS which is still a world reference; founded the National School of Administration ENA, the factory of senior officials that endowed the French state and today the European Union with a new race of public administrators; unified national theaters and launched free matinees for students and the poor.
I could go on, but I prefer to limit myself to mentioning one more legislative initiative: as Minister of Arts, Jean Zay demanded that any order for a public building, from the palaces of the Republic to the last primary school, to dedicate at least 1.5% of budget for decorative works, so that the connection between citizen and state is strengthened through artistic beauty and so that entire bodies of traditional trades - which had been the glory of France for centuries - do not disappear in the pursuit of efficiency of an industrial society. After fights with all political opponents, but also with party colleagues, he managed to snatch 0.5% and pass it into the law. I leave you to appreciate how urgent this measure seemed to some deputies who already managed the artistic heritage of a country like France and who, after introducing the annual paid leave, still had to face the other costly promises of the Popular Front. Oh, let me not forget a detail that surprised many at the time, introducing a new sense of urgency: the galloping rearmament of Nazi Germany…
At first glance, a crook might say, with that damn word of ours, that "it was not the time," that such measures by the left were preparing for the defeat of 1940. You will be surprised: the radical-socialist humanist Jean Zay, the Jew, the Protestant and Mason Jean Zay was not an angelic pacifist. In all his public action, he supported the Republic of Spain with ideas, programs and funds, rearmament as a priority and fought exemplary the pact of cowardice in Munich. It was a rare voice in France in those days, a leftist who spoke like Winston Churchill! But he was not just a man of words.
As a minister and deputy, he was exempt from mobilization. Jean Zay resigned as minister, remained a deputy, but gave up immunity and in 1939 volunteered for the regiment. In May 1940, he went on leave to Paris to take part in the parliamentary session as German troops approached. Authorities fled to Bordeaux, then sank the Republic and called on Marshal Pétain to sign the surrender. Together with 27 other deputies, Jean Zay embarked on the ship Massilia to Morocco, wanting to form a government in exile, to continue the fight in the colonies or in London. Arriving at their destination, the deputies were detained on the orders of the Vichy government. Jean Zay and three other deputies were in the military. They were transferred to France, where in the meantime the new authorities had revoked their permits. Jean Zay was demoted and sentenced to life imprisonment "for desertion in front of the enemy, as a front-line officer." The other three received 6 years, 8 years with suspension and a payment…
In their honor, upon hearing the sentence, dozens of magistrates protested publicly, signing a petition entitled "The honor of the French Justice refuses to be tainted with a new Dreyfus affair." Even the Nazis had to back down a bit, commuting the exile in Papillon's prison in Guyana to a prison sentence in France.
Where does the difference in treatment come from? Where does so much hatred come from? Before and throughout the trial, a furious press campaign had been launched, in which all factions of the French far right had found their most suitable scapegoat in Jean Zay. How else? For fascist collaborators, as well as for ultra-Catholic nationalists, the 1940 disaster could only be the work of a Jew, a Protestant, a left-wing agitator, or a Freemason. Jean Zay was all this together. He was the ideal traitor. For the fascists, it was a mess, at most a mess. At the time, it was said that "baptism can eventually make you a Christian, but not French." For the communists he could no longer bear, Jean Zay would have been a cosmopolitan, that is, a man without roots. It was he, who had so many…
I wonder, Brethren, what would we call the free, balanced and sophisticated people of today?
The fashionable term, although technically correct, already scares large segments of the population: Jean Zay was a product of multiculturalism. I do not want to influence anyone's judgment, but I have a request: when we hear this term blown as a threat to modern society, let us not forget that it also produces such rare pearls as Jean Zay. Believe in the word of a Brother who shares neither his religions nor his political affiliation.
Multiculturalism is today part of an older family of words, of which I remind you only the plutocracy, the Judeo-Masonic occult, the Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy and, more modestly, but closer to us, those who “did not eat soy salami ”. As Freemasons, tolerance requires us to accept and respect otherness. As modern people and responsible citizens, we have a duty to explore its exoticism and to extract from it the light elements that we sometimes lack. Any horse breeder or viticulturist can confirm to us that the elite of a thoroughbred or a DOC wine is just the result of many happy races.
Returning to Jean Zay, he spent the next four years in prison, in contact with the French Resistance, which offered to help him escape. He refused, arguing that he was not a skilled partisan and that he was more useful behind bars, constantly writing and still using his sharp mind to invent new initiatives and reforms necessary for the reconstruction of France after the Liberation. A cellmate of Rabbi Gurevici confesses that he never considered himself a Jew, although he was convicted of it: from so many persecutions. I am here with you only because outsiders are not free. ”
This is what Brother Jean Zay thought on June 20, 1944, 75 years ago without three days, when three fascist militiamen took him out of his cell, waving a transfer order motivated by the landing in Normandy. They took him to the outskirts of the city, between a forest and an abandoned stone quarry, to a place called by the peasants Râpa Diavolului. There they murdered him, stripped him naked and stole his wedding ring, before throwing some grenades to bury him under the boulders. Does this scene sound familiar to you? I ask you not only as Masons, but also as simple Romanians.
He was to turn 40 a month later. Yes, Brethren, all this work was done before the age of 36!
This is how Brother Jean Zay's biological life ends. But posterity was no less unjust to him. Although he was rehabilitated posthumously in 1945, although his body was found and identified in 1946 after the dental record and the measures carefully recorded in the notebook by his Jewish tailor in Paris, he also disappeared, although the assassins were captured by allies in Naples in 1947 and sentenced to forced labor for life, they were released from prison after only two years and Jean Zay's name was completely forgotten.
Why, you ask me. How was this possible in a free and anti-fascist world? It's painfully simple. Post-war France needed new figures of heroes to erase the shame of the 1940 capitulation. The two most important parties of the time, the Gaullist and the Communist, were both dedicated to instrumentalizing collective memory. In addition, each had to claim half of the French Resistance - sometimes FFI, sometimes FTP - with many glorious names of true martyrs of Freedom. Unfortunately, Jean Zay was not on any of these lists. He did not even figure in that of the surviving Jewish organizations, because he had only one Jewish grandfather, and that of his father. With the taste of the conspiracy we have, we can only ask ourselves this: who is left not to forget him? The answer belongs to everyone.
I will now give you the opportunity of each one to look into the eyes of this Brother of ours who, although passed to the Eternal East, you will discover that he is still active! In this capacity, but also for the exemplarity of his entire existence, I ask the permission of the Venerable Master that the photograph of this Brother remain in the Orient, as the guest of honor of our agape.
I confess that, although passionate about the history of France, I had not met his name until a few weeks ago. To double my shame, I found out about my filmmaking profession.
I kept the last of Jean Zay's inventions. In 1938, the French minister noticed that the most important film festival in the world, the Venice Film Festival, had become a megaphone for the dictatorship. No wonder. Mussolini had proclaimed a few years earlier that "of all the weapons of fascism, cinema is the most powerful." A diligent man, he founded the Cinecittà studios and the Venice Film Festival, then gave them substantial credits. Mussolini was right. Stalin understood and copied it. In 1938, the Venice Exhibition was already under the command of a third disastrous figure: Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda of the German Reich. While Europe was delighted to find the bunch of stars in Venice, Jean Zay had a flash: democratic countries should boycott this propaganda and have a festival of their own, celebrating democratic values. Why not in a lovely place like Cannes?
Said and done. Jean Zay contacted everyone from Gaumont and Pathé to Hollywood studios and invited them to the Cote d'Azur on September 1, 1939.
But the beginning of the war turned everything upside down. The Cannes Film Festival did not appear until a few years later, when Jean Zay's assassins were released from prison, amnestied in the name of national reconciliation.
I told you earlier that there was probably someone who would NOT forget Jean Zay all these years. A few mayors were found. Today, a dozen streets in France and several general schools bear his name. However, free people of good morals were found to bring him back to the attention of the authorities. In 2015, 70 years after his rehabilitation, his remains were transferred to the Panthéon. In the speech of the President of the Republic, "Jean Zay was one of the few who shaped from time to time the French rebellious nature in the living and ultimately victorious spirit of the Resistance." This year, President Macron, in the ambition to put France at the forefront of nations developing artificial intelligence, equipped CNRS with a supercomputer. The researchers decided to name it Jean Zay. But that's not all.
Brethren, a group of enthusiasts set out to finally organize the 1939 Cannes Film Festival. You heard me right, the one from 1939, with the films selected then. And what movies! Unlike Jean Zay, they have not been forgotten all these years: The Wizard of Oz, Pacific Express and Mister Smith going to the Senate are just some of those weapons of freedom and democracy temporarily defeated that will fight for a Palme d ' In a few months, in this late but essential year of 1939.
Because yes, it will be a real festival, with a jury, competition and prizes. As a special attention for Goebbels, the organizers proposed him to be the president of the jury of Amos Gitai, a huge Israeli filmmaker who, after accepting, apparently cried for two days. The jury will include, in addition to specialists, Jean Zay's two daughters, Hélène and Catherine, the last born when his father was already in prison. There will also be a red carpet, on which the stars of 1939 or their descendants are already invited, there will be conferences and debates, it will be all that the Cannes Film Festival means in a free world.
What does it matter that we are not in 1939? What does it matter that it is called Cannes, but it will take place in Orléans, in the city once liberated by Joan of Arc, so that Jean Zay could be born there later as a Frenchman? No, Brethren, for the Jean Zay Committee, as some organizers who are categorically free and of the best morals modestly call themselves, it is NOT
NEVER TOO LATE. Or, in other words that you dream more and more Romanian, "right now is the time". Today, in the world of Trump and Putin, Brexit and Korean missiles, Erdogan or Viktor Orban, the Jean Zay Committee has decided that it is still time to respond to Mussolini and Goebbels.
I have the honor to present to you, Brothers, the poster for the 1939 Cannes Film Festival. The one planned for then and the one for today. You will be able to notice in the illustrations the fragility of the world in front of the Nazi boots, but also the contemporary nostalgia for the elegance of a lost era. Yes, you can still get your tickets! For once, 1939 does not end in its time, but only when it should…
You are probably impressed, as I was, by learning about this event and the destiny of this Brother. But I would put your patience to the test for a few more minutes to modestly share with you the thoughts he has aroused in me in recent weeks, thoughts for which I ask your permission in advance.
Jean Zay moved to the Eternal Orient a long time ago, but his work will not be completed until November in Orléans. Yes, I am alluding to that phrase in the Ritual, which often goes almost unnoticed at the end of the Outfit, when the spirit is already longing for the warmth of the agape conversations and the body hears the siren call of the meatballs. This is where I was when I heard the symbolic voice of Brother Jean Zay.
"The work of a mason never ceases." In his absence, after him, she falls on the shoulders of the remaining Brothers. It doesn't stop, it doesn't go out of style, it doesn't prescribe. Do we claim from the builders of the temples, do we want to be the descendants of the cathedral builders? Very well. The most ungrateful of their duties was to devote themselves entirely to a work begun long before them, and the end result of which they will see only with their eyes closed. Masons pass, but Freemasonry advances without stopping, generation after generation. When we unite in the Brotherhood Chain, we do not shake hands only with the Brethren of Australia and Patagonia. The universal declines in space, but also in time. Along with us are Franklin and Mozart, but also Bălcescu or the Golești brothers. The mourning we carry includes them, along with the least famous, but surprisingly important, of which today we met only one.
A long, profane summer awaits us, but our work never ends. As a real lazy person, who knows that the hardest thing is not the work itself, but to start it without delay, I am glad that it started long before us. I'm thinking of the glorious Pasoptist generation and I can't help but wonder how can I make the Chain with such figures without being considered a perfect imposter? I wonder what was chosen for their work. I reread the Islaz Proclamation and, although at first sight it is made, if I replace a few names of institutions and opponents, I can guess the answer to the following question: how much Justice I find out in the morning news and how much Brotherhood day? Worse, how much Brotherhood remains in my Lodge, when we approach, even on the Diverse group, the themes of society that we really miss? How much longer do we have to fight the censorship reflex or, much more harmful, the self-censorship reflex? Is it the work of those Brothers from the completed history textbooks or do we just pretend not to see it, from the middle of our Workshop to the small borders of profane Romania?
Of course, for tolerance and harmony, we force ourselves not to do partisan politics or religious proselytism. But I don't think we can fight Impostor, Tyranny and Fanaticism in silence, be it dignified. I also thought that these dragons spat out flames only in the 18th and 19th centuries, that humanity was detoxified from fascist sadomasochism and communist heroin, that the Berlin Wall collapsed for good, but then I lived. I lived not only the Islamist attacks or the wars in Yugoslavia, but, less heroically and closer to home, the plagiarized doctorates, the Collective, the midnight ordinances and the referendum to redefine the family. Before we bring our nation to light, the dragon still has many heads to cut.
The Romanian social hive has various categories of bees. We are here a Lodge, a handful of people who were not content to be just drones or workers, but we dreamed a little about our sentences. In addition to the spiritual search, eminently individual, our Workshop should also be a laboratory of ideas with social applicability and these are usually born from the debate between opposing opinions. Some opinions may wrinkle our ego or ideological beliefs, but I allow myself to consider this normal. Some more dangerous substances are also handled in a laboratory. You sneeze, you cry more, you burn or run, but that's part of the contract. Nobody wants to poison you, everyone is looking for a cure for old and dangerous diseases together. As Jean Zay dramatically reminds us, the actions that are worthwhile are not without risks.
For now, we don't care about the Canal, Aiud or Periprava if we talk, but just a slightly wrinkled pride.
In classical democracies, political disputes take place in Parliament. There, honest people, educated people, dedicated people gather. Although our country is too small for such a large Parliament, how many elected people qualify for these chapters? Although we have many parties and leaders, after 30 years of democracy we are still waiting to have a left-wing and a right-wing party, with at least a national, if not European, vision.
By left, I mean a party that promotes access to dignity for the disadvantaged, through health, education and economic support, not through ghettoization and total dependence on discretionary aid. On the right, I imagine a party that supports the freedoms and individual initiative, the dreams and projects of ambitious Romanians, by creating a modern administrative apparatus, degreased to the needs and capabilities of our society, but trained and digitized to EU standards. By national I do not mean either the Dacians or the Hungarians, but the Romanian SMEs, subject to global competition at home and crushed at the same time under the non-Phanariot fiscal pressure. We will be able to talk about the European vision when we ask ourselves if, with public money, a government would decide to support a Romanian group in Brussels to be able to buy 1% from Deutsche Telekom, not always and always the other way around.
When we have at least these two games, I want to believe that our society will be less vehement on Facebook, on blizzard boulevards or in hot markets. Moreover, even on our group of Miscellaneous. Until then, it is up to us to contribute honestly, even if it hurts, to this difficult birth. It is our oldest duty, the one inherited from all the "devil's ravines" of our country. We have several essential advantages over politicians: Freemasonry teaches us to speak one by one and to look for the part of the Brotherhood in any adversary. It's not small at all. I do not propose to move the mountains, but only to have the courage to talk more, even on WhatsApp. Let us have the courage to call an impostor an impostor; a plagiarist - plagiarist; and a thief - a thief, without asking us if it is red or blue, if it is claimed from a left without Justice or from a right without Freedom.
I know, it's hard, but only at the beginning. It's hard until you get started. If we have sworn to obey the laws of the Country, we should react when others violate them, not to be modestly veiled in the Brotherhood's discretion. If we are proud to be Brothers with big names on the boulevards, let's honor them somehow. By the way, our generation has not yet managed to sweep or properly illuminate the basement to pave these boulevards. As Brother Bogoescu's drawing recently inspired me to say, there are stones that grind us. The glory inherited from the Pasoptian Masons is required to be dusted and polished, but not by festive commemorations, but by modest, anonymous, selfless work. It starts with more dialogue and acceptance between us. Then in the profane, day by day, with the patience and pedagogy that brought some of you children that we can all be proud of. Let's use these qualities, even if we have the impression that we sometimes waste a neighbor, an office colleague or a more hectic salesman in a cafe. The soul is also a muscle that needs to be trained.
The Romania we dream of must contain and convince them as well, to attract and warm those who - with millions - have already taken the world in their heads. I do not know how much Freemasonry wants to lead by example in society, but I believe that we must not lose that initiative inscribed in the DNA of the Brotherhood and confirmed by history with a united country, with somewhat protected minorities, in a sovereign state. and somewhat democratic. It is time to contribute more energetically to this edifice, to finally end the nineteenth century according to the original specifications.
In the permanent festival of vanity in Dâmboviţa, it is difficult and rare to be a Jean Zay, but I think it is extremely feasible and deeply honorable to initiate a Jean Zay Committee. If the Cannes Film Festival of 1939 takes place in November, maybe it's time for us to dare to talk freely about the diseases of Romanian society, not to hide our blisters under the eyeshadow or to be polite that we don't see them. In those around us and, not infrequently, in ourselves. Personally, I don't think that means partisan politics, but minimal hygiene and sanitary prevention.
I can't promise you that it will be easy, but only that we can start easily, untying our tongues between us. I can't promise you that we will ever have boulevards like the Pasoptists, but only that the light of our debates will be at least as long as a light bulb is missing from these boulevards. I'm not even sure it will be enjoyable, but just honest and according to our Oaths and the handshake - so contractual - in the Universal Chain.
I can be sure of one thing: that on a particularly busy day with all sorts of important things, we will each be torn apart and thrown at the gates of the Eternal East. On the threshold, all those great shadows will probably be waiting for us, who, after the natural fraternal embrace, will ask us - with the delicacy of their age, in which all education began and ended with a solid mode of good manners - one but terrible question: "Tell me, please, dear Brother, how long have you been able to move on from that old work of ours?"
I am confident that autumn will bring me new signs from my Brothers that our generation will identify its 1939 year to complete, and will one day be able to answer the question of the Boulevards with its head held high.