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 Post subject: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:05 pm 
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Can anyone recommend a book that gives a true account of French colonisation of Algeria ?

I have a friend who was born in France of Algerian parents and she says that so much has been covered up that she has never found a true account (in French). I suggested that it is quite possible that something has been published in English and gave her examples of books about the Occupation in France written in English.

She told me that files which had been closed for 50 years and could have been made public have been closed for another 50 years. I didn't question her as to where she had looked but it is clearly an emotive subject.

I admitted to her that I knew very little about Algeria as it is not a subject that seems to come up much in the UK - apart from being a place on the Foreign office black list. The conversation with my friend has whetted my appetite to learn more.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:16 pm 
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If only 1% of what I have been told of what happened in the war of independence is true then I would recommend that persons without stone hearts do NOT want to know what happened.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:33 pm 
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It really was as bad as that ? :(
I've come across a fair amount of French pieds noirs who were very sad to leave and I've also met several people born in France of Algerian parents. I've never asked why the Algerian parents left Algeria - all have family still there, and visit them from time to time. I gather it's very tribal which always causes conflict.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 9:11 am 
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A neighbour is French, born in Algeria of French parents. Even less likely to want to talk about it and I have never broached the subject.

She is a good friend, once married to a Glaswegian, then a Lancastrian, now widowed twice, but will always be remembered by us for our first encounter.

She spoke good English but with a strong French/Glaswegian accent and looked at us with astonishment as we fell about laughing at her directions as to the best way to the neighbouring, larger, village 'teek the wee bredge'.

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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:26 am 
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:lol:


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:15 pm 
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Hello All from a new member - in France a few years but having just found this forum.

We lived in Oran from March 1969 until July 1970, and travelled around the coastal fringe as far as Algiers, and the oil field areas of the Sahara. I even managed to drive as far south as Tindouf.

We liked and enjoyed the country and the people, but not the Algerian/American company I worked for.

Not one person we talked with mentioned the war, and we didn't ask about it.

There are several books on the history of Algeria and of the war available from Amazon France which may be of interest.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:47 pm 
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Blaze. While looking at the area we lived in near Oran on Google Earth I noticed a Panoramio image of "Le Chateau Navarre, Clairefontaine" a large building close to the beach, in Bouisseville, Ain el Turk, which was already in poor repair when we were there.

It was inhabitated by a lone elderly lady, who may have had one servant. She lived in just a couple of rooms, as she could not afford to heat or light all of them. She was very well liked by the small kids arund there, and there were several of them sitting on the floor around her when my wife called on her once.

I had not previously known the name of the building, and on Googling it I found a blog by a one time resident of Oran - http://koubach.skyrock.com/1249876986-C ... TAINE.html

The blog mentions the chateau as it was back when he lived there, and has dozens of pictures of the area, taken around 2007. It is sad to see a place we liked so much reduced to its current condition by the Islamist regime, but maybe it has improved since then.

I attach the link in case your friend is interested in the photos and the account in the blog, which can be reached via the tab at the top of the page.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:05 pm 
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Hi RogerFox and a warm welcome to the forum ! I think Algeria has been through many changes both before you lived there, and since. Everyone who I've spoken to who has lived or been there says it's a beautiful place but for a long time it's been unsafe to go too far into the interior. Thank you for the link - I'll certainly pass it on (and look at it myself).

I've come across some extremely nice people from the Maghreb countries - it seems logical to learn a bit about their history.

The war and French colonisation is not talked about which makes me wonder why. What are the French covering up and why don't Algerians want to talk about it ? Perhaps I'm being naïve, but the past can't be changed and if it was so bad, then surely no-one wants to repeat it ?


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:17 pm 
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The biggest sadness for me is the scourge of colonialism and the way it doesn't seem to have occurred to many of our forebears (because it wasn't just the French) how wrong in principle it was.

As I have supported and commiserated with the French Resistance to what was in essence German colonialism in France in WW2, I can't help but feel a little uneasy each May 8th and November 11th at the names of the fallen in Algeria and Morrocco for instance. It only helps to think of the fallen as fallen for France and doing only what was wrong because their country demanded it.

Even more bizarre is the long drawn out conflicts in Algeria and Vietnam only months after the liberation of France, sometimes with former resisters becoming oppressors.

A recent documentary about the Indian Mutiny pointed out that it was called that to ease the conscience of those who averred it was only Indian soldiers revolting, when in fact it may well have been a general insurrection.

Even worse, a cartoon of the time depicted so-called mutineers being executed by being strapped to the barrels of canons and blown to pieces in order that, as Hindus, they would not be able to re-incarnete in the next world. Remind you of anyone? Isis perhaps and their beheadings? But of course they are barbarians, no doubt.

Sorry for the rant. Perhaps you can see why I never broached the subject of Algeria with my neighbour, To possibly lose a friend over something that was not her fault, and perhaps unknown about to her, not worth it.

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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:15 pm 
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Spardo wrote:
A recent documentary about the Indian Mutiny pointed out that it was called that to ease the conscience of those who averred it was only Indian soldiers revolting, when in fact it may well have been a general insurrection.

Yes, whilst one of the reasons given was greasing cartridges with pig or cow fat which the Sepoys had to bite off. But there was general unrest and it only needed a spark to set things off.

India is a very complex country with a deep-rooted class or caste system which is still a real headache today, and the cause of so much violence for centuries. Add to this all the different religions and you have a permanent powder keg.

Back to Algeria - I have read some of Wikipedia's very long text on the Algerian War and its background and it's a very complex subject, definitely not something I can take in in one sitting.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:57 am 
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Forgive my lateness, but I've only just noticed this thread. I don't know whether an authoritative history of the Algerian colony and the liberation of it exists, and whether french secrecy over the archives would make it possible.

One of my favourite books ever is Bel Ami by De Maupassant. At the start of the book Duroy "thought of his two years in Africa and of the way he used to intimidate the Arabs in the little outposts in the south. His mouth twisted into a cruel grin as he remembered one escapade which had resulted in the death of three Ouled-Alane tribesmen and had provided him and his comrades with a score of hens, two sheep and some money, as well as something to joke about for the next six months." That was published in 1885 and, I believe, was based on a real incident. I wonder whether it was brave of De Maupassant to publish that.

Whilst I acccept that nasty things were done by most colonial regimes, and French crimes should be seen in that context, the french seem very secretive over Algeria. Its worth noting that Algeria even spilled on to the streets of Paris in the 1960's when it is thought that between 100 to 300 Algerian demonstrators were killed either by being beaten to death, or by drowning, having been thrown into the Seine. It wasn't until 1998 that the French government acknowledged that it had happened (having denied it and censored attempts to tell the story up until then) and even then would admit only to a still horrific 40 deaths.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_massacre_of_1961

It is incredible that this was carried out on the orders of the head of the Parisian police, Maurice Papon. In an earlier incarnation he had been a Vichy policeman responsible for the deportation of 1690 Bordeaux Jews to Drancy internment camp from 1942 to 1944. He is known to have tortured prisoners during the Algerian War. Following the Paris massacre Papon was personally awarded the Legion of Honour by President Charles de Gaulle. Rather late in the day he was convicted in 1998 on charges of crimes against humanity for his role in the Vichy regime. He was released in 2002 having served less than 3 years.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:26 am 
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It seems all the more shocking that something like that could have happened in Paris, on our doorstep. I notice the J-M Le Pen, a deputy at the time, was stirring up hatred as well. Papon, in giving free rein to the police allowed the very worst elements to come out. Small wonder that there is such a mistrust of the police today.

The more I read about Algeria, the more I learn how violent and horrific things were, both against Algerians, and then against the pieds-noirs who chose to stay after independence (massacre of Oran in 1962, though figures seem to differ).

What I haven't got to the bottom of yet is why France clung onto Algeria but made no attempt to integrate with the indigenous population. Was it a foothold on the north African coast ? Minerals or other raw materials ?


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:32 am 
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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:44 am 
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Oil ..... with religion, the root of much evil.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:23 pm 
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Blaze wrote:
Can anyone recommend a book that gives a true account of French colonisation of Algeria ?

I have a friend who was born in France of Algerian parents and she says that so much has been covered up that she has never found a true account (in French). I suggested that it is quite possible that something has been published in English and gave her examples of books about the Occupation in France written in English.

She told me that files which had been closed for 50 years and could have been made public have been closed for another 50 years. I didn't question her as to where she had looked but it is clearly an emotive subject.

I admitted to her that I knew very little about Algeria as it is not a subject that seems to come up much in the UK - apart from being a place on the Foreign office black list. The conversation with my friend has whetted my appetite to learn more.


Only covers the war of independence but I remember being impressed by Alistair Horne's A Savage War of Peace when I read it some time ago. Be warned, it's pretty harrowing.

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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:12 pm 
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That's the problem - the more I learn the more I realise that reading fuller accounts will be very harrowing.
But thanks for the title, Fred.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 2:20 pm 
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I don't know much about it, except that it seems to involve memories that France would rather forget.
I sometimes read the death anonces in the local paper, and it often mentions that the deceased had fought in the Algeria war.


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 Post subject: Re: The truth about Algeria
PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:12 am 
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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-42280196
Macron made his first official visit to Algeria this week but did not give the hoped-for apology, despite previoussly calling France's colonial war "a crime against humanity".
He then Tweeted :
"Réconcilier les mémoires, c'est trouver le chemin qui permet aux femmes et aux hommes nés en Algérie de pouvoir y revenir, quelles que soient leurs histoires - Coming to terms with our past means finding a way forward for those who were born in Algeria to be able to return, whatever their background"

This seems to have gone down like a lead balloon as it has been understood as an appeal to the Algerian authorities to allow the return of two groups, known as Harkis and Pieds Noirs.

The Harkis were Algerians who fought for the French army against their own people and are considered to be traitors - hardly surprising.
But would Pieds Noirs want to go back after so long ? Even if they were allowed to, they would hardly be welcomed with open arms.


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