Breton Liberation Front
|Breton Liberation Front
Talbenn Diebiñ Breizh
Front de Libération de la Bretagne
The organization logo
|Active||1963 – 1990s|
|Ideology||Breton independence from France|
|Area of operations||Brittany, France|
|Originated as||Gwenn ha Du|
|Opponents||Government of France|
The Breton Liberation Front (Breton: Talbenn Dieubiñ Breizh, French: Front de Libération de la Bretagne or FLB) is a militant group founded in 1963 to promote the "liberation of Brittany from France". Brittany is a province in northwest France, and formed an independent Duchy of Brittany until the treaty of union in 1532.
Breton Nationalism had been a significant force in the early 20th century through the Breton National Party, but it has been discredited by its association with collaborationism in World War II. The FLB represented a new wave of nationalist politics associated with anti-colonialist ideology. The group claimed that Brittany was oppressed by France acting as a colonial power.
The group was linked to surviving members of earlier nationalist groups, notably Yann Goulet, who was operating from Ireland. The first known FLB attack occurred in June 1966 when a municipal tax office in Saint-Brieuc was bombed, and a note signed by the FLB claimed that they would continue to carry out a campaign of violence against these "occupying symbols of Brittany."
In the following years, the FLB carried out attacks against administrative structures, such as electrical installations, police barracks and statues—mainly by bombing them. The number of attacks peaked in 1968. However, the FLB ensured that no physical injuries or deaths would result from their attacks, which they wished to remain purely symbolic. In this they followed the model of the earlier group Gwenn ha du. They thus gained a reputation in the international community as the "smiling terrorists." There are even reports that the only two known FLB victims during this period were two FLB members themselves, who were killed while trying to defuse a bomb they were afraid may hurt civilians.
Although created by young Bretons in the early 1960s, the FLB enjoyed popular support, evident in the 1969 arrest of numerous FLB suspects which revealed that members came from very diverse backgrounds: businessmen, housewives, students, farmers, and even clergy. Some of these suspects were put on trial, which only bolstered the Breton "liberation" movement as the trials were perceived to be further suppressive action by the government. This period was also marked with a rise in the number of students enrolling in Breton language courses, as being able to speak Breton was seen as legitimizing one's position as a Breton militant.
Factions in the FLB emerged in the early 1970s, leading to the creation of the militant Breton Revolutionary Army (Armée révolutionnaire bretonne, or ARB). This group acted separately from the FLB and proved to be the durable faction that still exists today. There were several Breton liberation groups that were distinct from the FLB.
- Jack E. Reece, The Bretons against France: ethnic minority nationalism in twentieth-century Brittany, University of North Carolina Press, 1977, p.204.
- Michael John Christopher O'Callaghan, Separatism in Brittany, Dyllansow Truran, 1983, p.77-83