Social Initiatives and Railway Worker Solidarity

From the early railway companies, a genuine railway culture of mutual aid and solidarity emerged. The companies, and later SNCF, launched numerous social initiatives, particularly to support the children and orphans of railway workers. Concurrently, a rich associative culture began to flourish, including the Railway Workers’ Artistic Union, Railway Workers’ Gardens, Harmonies, and more. Despite the horrors of war, it also sparked a beautiful wave of solidarity. The railway workers’ community, where the first mutual aid initiatives blossomed, remained at the forefront during this period.

The National Committee for Railway Workers’ Solidarity (CNSC), established in 1939, bears witness to this spirit. It is a gathering for the fraternal support of fellow railway workers. It organizes events like the Solidarity Week, accompanied by the collection of donations in kind for those affected (food, household items, clothing, cash contributions). Additionally, it takes care of providing breakfasts or snacks for the children of those who were killed, taken prisoner, or affected by disasters.

You will find here a selection of documents on the theme of railway worker solidarity during World War II. Click on the reference number to access the documents:

Posters from the La Vie du Rail collection on Solidarity Weeks.

“To prevent this misery, help them,” 1943 (60X40 cm). Author: FORGERON G. Printer: CHAIX.”

“They want to live. Help them.” 1943 (60X40 cm). Author: FORGERON G. Printer: CHAIX

“Your duty? All come together as a team against adversity!” 1944 (60X40 cm). Solidarity Week. Author: DURUPT Maurice. Printer: CHAIX

“All united as one against adversity,” 1944 (60X40 cm). Author: FORGERON G. Printer: CHAIX.

“He needs your comfort. Railroad worker, be generous,” 1944 (56X44 cm). Author: FORGERON G. Printer: CHAIX.

“Third Solidarity Week. The first one since liberation, make it a triumph,” 1945 (60X40 cm). Author: FORGERON G. Printer: HERBERT

The solidarity discussed in the ‘Notre métier’ magazine

  • D01315193 :Notre métier (issues 1 to 7, from November 1939 to May 1940: wartime series)
  • D01315195 : Notre métier (issues 1 to 42, 1944-1945)
  • D01315357 : Notre métier (issues 43 to 86, 1946)

Notre métier is a professional and social information magazine for French railway workers, published by SNCF. This magazine is now called La Vie du Rail.

You will find, in the table below, all the issues of Our profession that mention the actions taken for railway worker solidarity by the National Committee for Railway Worker Solidarity (CNSC).

Topics covered Issues of  Notre métier 
Establishment of the National Committee for Railway Worker Solidarity (CNSC) with a call for railway workers deployed to the front (page 7) Notre métier n°1 (1939)

The Minister’s text regarding the establishment of the National Committee for Railway Worker Solidarity, which brings together 18 different railway worker associations (page 3)

Notre métier n°2 (1940)
Article on a clarification regarding the financial situation for our wounded, some directives from the National Committee for Railway Worker Solidarity, and the status update (page 9) Notre métier n°4 (1940)
The National Committee for Railway Workers’ Solidarity convened at the General Assembly to provide an overview of the initial accomplishments and the CNSC’s program (page 5) Notre métier n°5 (1940)
The initial financial assessment of the CNSC (page 7) Notre métier n°6 (1940)
Thanks following the donation appeal by the National Committee for Railway Worker Solidarity (page 3) Notre métier n°de la Libération (1944)
Call for collection and donations as winter and Christmas approach by the CNSC, and the reception of the CNSC board by the Minister of Public Works (page 6 and 7) Notre métier n°2 (1944)
The CNSC office at Mr. Goursat’s, the Director-General, to establish a relief program, particularly for railway workers in Alsace and Lorraine (cover page). THE SERVICE REPORT: Agent suggestions for the year 1943 in the regions (cover page) Notre métier n°3 (1944)
Information meeting by the CNSC for disaster victims with locations and addresses of aid offices (page 14 and 15) Notre métier n°4 (1944)
Call for suggestions for the 1945 Solidarity Day (page 19) Notre métier n°5 (1944)
Organization of a Christmas tree and artistic activities by the CNSC for the families of those shot and deported (page 24) Notre métier n°6 (1944)

Official Program for the Launch of the “Week of Solidarity” from March 3rd to March 11th, First Edition After Liberation, Week Preparation, Contribution of Railroad Artists, and Week’s Events organized by the CNSC (cover page and page 26).

Notre métier n°7 (1945)
Making Blankets for Disaster Victims at the CNSC (cover page) Notre métier n°8 (1945)
Presentation on the Contribution of Railroad Worker Artists to the Preparation of the “Week of Solidarity” (Poster Projects) (pages 34 and 35) Notre métier n°9 (1945)
3rd Edition of the “Week of Solidarity” and the 1st After Liberation in Paris and France: Various Events Marked the Week of Solidarity (pages 42 and 43) Notre métier n°11 (1945)
Speech by Mr. Meyer, Minister of Public Works and Transportation, on May 19, 1945, Regarding the Days Organized by the National Committee for Railway Workers’ Solidarity (cover page) and Visit to the Hospital for Repatriated Deportees from Buchenwald (page 60) Notre métier n°16 (1945)
Following the general information meeting in Caen, the CNSC reports the annual revenue (cover page) Notre métier n°22 (1945)
Following the general information meeting in Caen, the CNSC reports the annual revenue (cover page) Notre métier n°23 (1945)
Letter from Mr. GOURSAT, Director-General, regarding the CNSC’s Solidarity Days and their actions (cover page) Notre métier n°40 (1945)
Large-scale collection by the Empire on the occasion of the CNSC’s ‘National Days,’ raising over 6 million francs for war victims (collection from Cameroon, Oubangui, Chad, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Niger, Madagascar, Martinique, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, French Guiana, Pondicherry, Franco-Ethiopian Railway of Djibouti-Addis Ababa, and the Moroccan railway) Notre métier n°44 (1946)

Visit of the CNSC to the assistance office for the families of deportees and those shot by the SNCF.

Notre métier n°48 (1946)
The CNSC office is preparing the new edition of the 1946 Solidarity Day Notre métier n°49 (1946)
Appeal for railway worker solidarity to assist other railway workers between Normandy and Alsace during the war and after the D-Day landings Notre métier n°50 (1946)
Official program of the 4th edition of Solidarity Week from May 25th to June 2nd, 1946 Notre métier n°54 (1946)
Exhibition of the German armored train now in support of the CNSC to generate proceeds for the association
Poster for Solidarity Week from 1943 to 1945
Chronicle of the upcoming Solidarity Week communicated by the CNSC Notre métier n°57 (1946)
Appeal from the Director-General for mobilization during Solidarity Week Notre métier n°58 (1946)
Chronicle of the upcoming Solidarity Week communicated by the CNSC through a radio address by the President of the CNSC Notre métier n°59 (1946)
Inauguration of Solidarity Week at Paris-Est Station Notre métier n°61 (1946)
Solidarity Week Paris-West, which will take place from June 15th to June 23rd, 1946, to organize a large-scale program Notre métier n°62 (1946)
Adoption committee established in 1945 between the CNSC and SNCF, with the initial prospecting work, investigations (why are girls more in demand), and the report with examples of adopted children Notre métier n°64 (1946)
Adoption committee of the CNSC following the article in Our profession No. 64, a letter from a woman wishing to adopt and a new adoption request Notre métier n°70 (1946)
The solidarity week in the Nord region, the festivities of Paris-Nord, the committee in Amiens, Lille, and many others Notre métier n°81 (1946)