The return of the “Breiz Atao”.

At the 1953 Celtic Congress in Dublin, Yann Fouéré meets his fellow exiles again and other delegates who have travelled from Brittany. At this informal meeting the situation of the Breton refugees is discussed and all those present make a commitment to set up a new Breton political movement.

On the 24th July 1953, a new law is passed granting amnesty to those who had been condemned to a loss of citizenship rights, opening up new prospects for the Breton exiles.

Early in 1955,with the help of his lawyer, Jean-Louis Bertrand, Yann Fouéré begins the procedure for a re-trial. The trial takes place before a Paris Military Tribunal on 3rd June 1955. Several personalities and ex-colleagues from the Ministry of the Interior testify in his favour. The prosecution calls on Victor Le Gorgeu who is present, and on Marcel Coudurier who is not present and is excused by a medical certificate. A verdict is reached and Yann Fouéré is acquitted of all charges. (See a copy of the Tribunal’s verdict in the Archives section of the site, under Yann Fouéré.)

In the autumn of 1955, after ten years in exile and now freed from his heavy sentence, Fouéré sets out on a month long tour of Brittany. He visits his parents in Saint Lunaire, where his father is now Mayor, and the branches of his family in Evran and Callac. At a Kendalc’h AGM in Rennes, he meets many of his old companions and makes numerous contacts with those who would become the main motivators of the future Breton political movement.

In May 1956 in Rennes, during the first of a cycle of conferences organised by members of the Jeunesse Etudiante Bretonne, Yann Fouéré puts forward his ideas for a new expression of Breton politics and begins working with other militants on a Projet d’Organisation de la Bretagne, roughly based on the Projet de Statut proposed in 1942. The final text is printed and distributed in the form of a petition which in turn initiates the setting up of local committees who prepare the way for the rebirth of the Breton movement.

The Projet d’Organisation de la Bretagne (POB) petition receives several thousand signatures and on 10th November 1957, the Mouvement pour l’Organisation de la Bretagne (MOB) is launched. The MOB newspaper, “l’Avenir de la Bretagne”, is launched in January 1958. The MOB’s mission is to defend the economic and social development of Brittany and facilitate the resurfacing of Breton demands. (See brochure “Pourquoi et comment” published with L’Avenir de la Bretagne). The MOB plays an important role in the revival of the Breton movement and acts independently of French administration.

As director of l’Avenir de la Bretagne, Yann Fouéré leaves a lasting imprint on the Breton movement. He proposes and advances the idea of a democratic and federal Europe, respectful of its national minorities, and sets out these principles in a brochure “De la Bretagne a la France et a l’Europe” published in 1956. He advocates the organisation of Europe based along federal lines, making a strong impact on European federalist opinions in his book “l’Europe aux cent drapeaux”, published in 1968 and translated into English in 1980 with the title “Towards a Federal Europe”. In the course of his business travels he renews and develops contacts with other national minority groups and adresses numerous international conferences. With Per Lemoine and others, he becomes closely involved with the U.F.C.E., L’Union Fédéraliste des Communautés Ethniques. At the Rhys Eistedfodd in 1961, he creates the Celtic League along with Gwynfor Evans and J.E.Jones. He writes another two books , “La Bretagne écartelée”, published in 1961, and the “ Histoire résumée du mouvement Breton (1800-1976)” published in 1977. He works tirelessly to re-establish the forgotten historical truths of the Breton struggle.

After the disappearance of the MOB in the late sixties, Yann Fouéré’s monthly newspaper, l’Avenir de la Bretagne, takes on a new challenge with the formation of the SAV-Strollad Ar Vro political party, evolving from the MOB to address the social and economic development of Brittany. Yann Fouéré is the SAV candidate in Dinan, Côtes d’Armor, in the 1973 legislative elections. Defeat in the elections and numerous threats from the French authorities take their toll on the newspaper which eventually ceases publication.

001.jpg In 1967 he is appointed Chevalier de Grâce of the Ordre Souverain de Saint Jean de Jerusalem, Chevaliers Hospitaliers de Malte.

At the beginning of 1975, he is co. founder of  ”The Bureau of Unrepresented Nations’ in Brussels.

Towards the end of the sixties, Brittany is affected by several bomb explosions of the FLB, Front de Liberation de la Bretagne,(1). The organization undergoes several changes over the next decade.

(1) Read “FLB-ARB, l’histoire (1966-2005)”, by Lionel Henry and Annick Lagadec, Yorann Embanner, 2006.

Yann Fouéré is regularly suspected of taking a part in the activities of the underground movement. He is arrested in October 1975 along with many others and imprisoned in La Santé prison in Paris. He has written of this experience and the months he spent in La Santé in a book published in 1977, “En Prison pour le FLB”. Several pressure groups for his release from Breton, Welsh, Irish and International organisations – such as Amnesty International, the European Parliament and those of his family and friends – are brought to bear on the French authorities. After a hundred and five days, he is released on condition that he does not leave the country for a year. Later, the newly elected French president Mitterand decrees the abolition of the State Security Court- (detention without trial for an indefinite period) – and a general amnesty.

Click on the image to enlarge

trial.jpg 1975 Campaign for the release of Yann Fouéré

In the general amnesty of 1981, Yann Fouéré is at last free to travel back and forth again between Ireland and Brittany. He forms the Parti pour l’Organisation d’une Bretagne Libre (POBL) along with other Breton militants, with the renewed publication of l’Avenir as its monthly mouthpiece. This new movement incorporates Yann Fouéré’s European federalist and nationalist Breton ideas within the context of a liberal economy, rejecting right/left divisions for “national freedom” through the election of a regional assembly. By the early ‘90’s the party has several hundred registered members with seven federations. It attracts numerous national minority group delegations to its congresses, fostering cooperation towards a common goal for Europe, and continues to support the activities of the U.F.C.E.E. and other international minority organizations.

papa-1.jpg 1982 Conference on ‘ L’Europe des Régions ‘ in Saint Vincent, Vallée d’Aoste, Italy.Yann fouéré on the left with Boris Pabor (Slovenia) and Yvo Peters (Flanders).

In November 1999 a division in the party reduces membership, but POBL continues as the Mouvement POBL for another 5 years. Finally in 2005, after a quarter of a century, POBL goes into hibernation, concentrating on the continuation of its bi-monthly l’Avenir. Yann Fouéré remains Honorary President of both.

Yann Fouéré’s published works also include the following:

Ces Droits que les autres ont… mais que nous n’avons pas” is published in 1979.

Les Régions d’Europe en quête d’un Statut” is published in 1982.

Problemes Bretons du Temps présent” is published in 1983.

These are followed by the two volumes of his autobiography, “La Patrie Interdite, Histoire d’un Breton” published in 1987 and “ La Maison du Connemara” in 1995.

Europe! Nationalité Bretonne…Citoyen Francais?” is published in 2000.

In 1999, Yann Fouéré creates l’Institut de Documentation Bretonne et Européenne, IDBE, to provide a structure for the preservation of archives relating to Brittany’s history for the use of researchers and historians, and also as a base for the Fondation Yann Fouéré.

006.jpg 2006 – Yvo Peeters, Vice President of the Flemish National Writers Union (VVNA), presented the Honorary Membership Medal of the Union to Yann Fouéré. The Union only admits 8 Honorary Members. Yann succeeded to the seat of Prof.Guy Héraud who passed away.

Deceased on 20th October 2011 at the age of 101 years old, leaving the following words:-


It is my body only that you are covering with earth

As I will leave you the echo of my struggles;

That exile, prison, fear or war

Which have not stopped me, should not stop you.

16 thoughts on “The return of the “Breiz Atao”.

  1. Hello- I have just found your website.
    Why were you exiled?
    My fathers family is from Brittany. I have no one to ask questions of as my father has died and my oncle does not speak english. I was born in the USA.
    I want to learn so much about Brittany and the people. My father used to talk about the Brehonek language being forbidden. My parents came to the USA after WW2.

    I hope if you are for the good of keeping the heritage of Brittany alive you can- It would be a shame to see such a rich culture be forgotten.
    For me- it is a great loss to never know my heritage…

  2. It is good to hear from someone who cares about their heritage…
    The answer to your question is contained in the Biography and the Portrait sections of the site.
    We will make some inquiries regarding what books you can obtain in English in order to learn more about the history of Brittany, but in the meantime you could try on the internet.
    Although we are in the process of translating Yann Fouéré’s books,it may be some time before these are in print.
    Also can you e.mail us your father’s family name so that we can make some enquiries about them for you.

  3. Very useful thank you, I reckon your current audience would definitely want significantly more content such as this carry on the great hard work.

  4. Many thanks for this encouragement, Tim – have a bit of a backlog at present, but much more to be added in due course, so keep checking in!

  5. It does help, when one has such a wealth of archives to work from – still lots more to come so keep checking!

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  7. Wow! This can be one particular of the most helpful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Fantastic. I am also an expert in this topic therefore I can understand your hard work.

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