The volatile period of civil unrest in France during May 1968 was punctuated by demonstrations and massive general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France. At the height of its fervor, it brought the economy of France to a virtual halt. May 68 had a impact on French society that would be felt for decades to come. It is considered to this day as a cultural, social and moral turning point in the history of the country, as Alain Geismar—one of the leaders of the time—later pointed out, the movement succeeded as a social revolution, not as a political one. The unrest began with a series of student occupation protests against capitalism, consumerism and traditional institutions, values and it then spread to factories with strikes involving 11 million workers, more than 22% of the total population of France at the time, for two continuous weeks. It was the largest general strike ever attempted in France, the student occupations and wildcat general strikes initiated across France were met with forceful confrontation by university administrators and police. De Gaulle went to a French military base in Germany, and after returning dissolved the National Assembly, Violence evaporated almost as quickly as it arose. Workers went back to their jobs, and when the elections were held in June. In February 1968, the French Communists and French Socialists formed an electoral alliance, the universitys administration called the police, who surrounded the university. After the publication of their wishes, the left the building without any trouble. After this first record some leaders of what was named the Movement of 22 March were called together by the committee of the university. Following months of conflicts between students and authorities at the Paris University at Nanterre, the shut down the university on May 2,1968. Students at the Sorbonne University in Paris met on May 3 to protest against the closure and the threatened expulsion of several students at Nanterre. More than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne, still sealed off by the police, who charged, wielding their batons, as soon as the marchers approached. While the crowd dispersed, some began to create out of whatever was at hand, while others threw paving stones. The police then responded with tear gas and charged the crowd again, high school student unions spoke in support of the riots on 6 May. Negotiations broke down, and students returned to their campuses after a report that the government had agreed to reopen them. The students now had a near revolutionary fervor, on Friday,10 May, another huge crowd congregated on the Rive Gauche
Image: Badge Police Nationale
Public square of the Sorbonne, in the Latin Quarter of Paris.