First International Congress of Writers for the Defence of Culture
The main issues raised in the congress speeches were the attitude of artists and their work to the current political and social situation and the threat to culture from fascist regimes. The atmosphere of the event, which was reported in the press as a “great intellectual mass”, was marked by a regular dispute between delegations of individual countries, organizations or individuals – a dispute between the surrealist André Breton and the USSR delegate Ilia Erenburg was particularly symbolic. René Crevel, who tried to mediate between them in vain, ultimately failed and committed suicide the night before the inauguration of the congress.
The Paris congress proved to be a failure. No binding decisions were made on the common position of the progressive creative community, but it was the first congress in history where the notion of cultural freedom and the danger of totalitarianism were so widely debated. The congress idea was continued – both in the second half of the 1930s (including 1936, Lviv; 1937, Valencia) and after the war (1948, Wrocław; 1950, West Berlin).