Halte la! On ne passe pas !
French card, 1915
On ne passe pas !
Propaganda poster by Maurice Neumont [fr]

"They shall not pass" (French: Ils ne passeront pas!; Spanish: ¡No pasarán!; Romanian: Pe aici nu se trece!) is a slogan used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. "On ne passe pas" literally means "one does not pass"; this being a common French idiom to express interdiction.

It was most famously used during the Battle of Verdun in the First World War by French General Robert Nivelle. It appears on propaganda posters, such as that by Maurice Neumont after the Second Battle of the Marne, which was later adopted on uniform badges by units manning the Maginot Line. Later during the war, it also was used by Romanian soldiers during the Battle of Mărășești (the Romanian translation of the phrase is "Pe aici nu se trece", literally meaning "One does not pass through here").

It was also used during the Spanish Civil War, this time at the Siege of Madrid by Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, a member of the Communist Party of Spain, in her famous "No pasarán" speech on 18 July 1936.[1] The leader of the fascist forces, Generalísimo Francisco Franco, upon gaining Madrid, responded to this slogan by declaring "Hemos pasado" ("We have passed"). Also this slogan was revived in 2019 elections in Spain.

"¡No pasarán!" was used by British anti-fascists during the October 1936 Battle of Cable Street, and is still used in this context in some political circles. It was often accompanied by the words nosotros pasaremos (we will pass) to indicate that communists rather than fascists will be the ones to seize state power.[2]

The phrase was brought to the public consciousness again following action in December 1943 by French-Canadian officer Paul Triquet of the Royal 22e Regiment; his action included his use of Nivelle's phrase "to win a key objective at Ortona, Italy, in the face of overwhelming German opposition."[3]

In the 1980s, the phrase ¡No pasarán! was a theme in the civil wars in Central America, particularly in Nicaragua.[4] Nicaragua no pasarán is also the title of a 1984 documentary by David Bradbury about the events in Nicaragua that led to the overthrow of Somoza's dictatorship.[5][6][7]

In popular culture

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