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Algerian War

Algerian War
الثورة الجزائرية
Tagrawla Tadzayrit
Guerre d'Algérie

Collage of the French war in Algeria
Date 1 November 1954 – 19 March 1962
(7 years, 4 months, 2 weeks and 4 days)
Location French Algeria
Result French army controlling the territory[1][2]
but FLN political victory
Évian Accords
Independence of Algeria
 France FAF
Commanders and leaders
Saadi Yacef
Mustapha Benboulaïd  
Ferhat Abbas
Houari Boumedienne
Hocine Aït Ahmed
Ahmed Ben Bella
Krim Belkacem
Frantz Fanon
Larbi Ben M'Hidi  
Rabah Bitat
Mohamed Boudiaf
Ali La Pointe  
Paul Cherrière (1954–55)
Henri Lorillot (1955–56)
Raoul Salan (1956–58)
Jacques Massu (1956–60)
Paul Aussaresses
Maurice Challe (1958–60)
Jean Crepin (1960–61)
Fernand Gambiez (1961)
Pierre Lagaillarde
Raoul Salan
Edmond Jouhaud
Jean-Jacques Susini
Said Boualam
300,000 identified 40,000 civilian support 470,000 (maximum reached and maintained from 1956-1962)[3]
plus 90,000 Harkis
3,000 (OAS)
Casualties and losses
  • 141,000-152,863 male FLN soldiers killed [4][5] including 12,000 killed in internal purges [6]
  • Unknown number of wounded [7]
  • 25,600 dead [8]
  • 65,000 wounded
  • 10,000 european civilian casualities[9][10]
  • 30,000-150,000 Harkis killed.[11][12]
100 dead (OAS)
2,000 jailed (OAS)

The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian War of Independence or the Algerian Revolution (Berber: Tagrawla Tadzayrit; Arabic: الثورة الجزائريةAl-thawra Al-Jazaa'iriyya; French: Guerre d'Algérie or Révolution algérienne) was a war between France and the Algerian independence movements from 1954 to 1962, which led to Algeria gaining its independence from France. An important decolonization war, it was a complex conflict characterized by guerrilla warfare, maquis fighting, terrorism, the use of torture by both sides, and counter-terrorism operations. The conflict was also a civil war between loyalist Algerians supporting a French Algeria and their insurrectionist Algerian nationalist counterparts.[13]

Effectively started by members of the National Liberation Front (FLN) on November 1, 1954, during the Toussaint Rouge ("Red All Saints' Day"), the conflict shook the foundations of the weak and unstable French Fourth Republic (1946–58) and led to its replacement by the Fifth Republic with a strengthened Presidency, with Charles de Gaulle acting in the latter role. Although the military campaigns greatly weakened the FLN militarily, with most prominent FLN leaders killed or arrested and terror attacks effectively stopped, the brutality of the methods employed failed to win hearts and minds in Algeria, alienated support in Metropolitan France and discredited French prestige abroad.[1][2]

After major demonstrations in favor of independence from the end of 1960 [14][15] and the United Nations resolution recognizing the right to independence,[16] De Gaulle decided to open a series of negotiations with the FLN, which was concluded with the signing of the Évian Accords on March 1962. A referendum was held on 8 April 1962 and the French electorate approved the Évian Accords. The final result was 91% in favor of the ratification of this agreement [17] and on 1 July, the Accords were subject to a second referendum in Algeria, where with 99.72% voted for independence and just 0.28% against.[18]

The planned withdrawal led to a state crisis, to various Pieds-noirs) fled to France, in fear of the FLN's revenge, within a few months. The government was totally unprepared for the vast number of refugees, causing turmoil in France. The majority of Algerian Muslims who had worked for the French, were disarmed and left behind as the treaty between French and Algerian authorities declared that no actions could be taken against them.[19] However, the Harkis in particular, having served as auxiliaries with the French army, were regarded as traitors by the FLN and between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and family members were murdered by the FLN or lynch-mobs, often after being abducted and tortured. About 91,000 managed to flee to France, some with help from their French officers acting against orders, and today they and their descendants form a significant part of the Algerian-French population.


  • Background: French Algeria 1
    • Conquest of Algeria 1.1
    • Algerian nationalism 1.2
  • War chronology 2
    • Beginning of hostilities 2.1
    • The FLN 2.2
    • After the Philippeville massacre 2.3
    • Battle of Algiers 2.4
    • Guerrilla war 2.5
    • French counter-insurgency operations 2.6
    • Fall of the Fourth Republic 2.7
    • De Gaulle 2.8
    • The week of barricades 2.9
    • Role of women 2.10
    • End of the war 2.11
  • Pieds-Noirs' and Harkis' exodus 3
    • Pieds-noirs 3.1
    • Harkis 3.2
  • Death toll 4
  • Lasting effects in Algerian politics 5
  • Torture 6
    • French use 6.1
    • Algerian use 6.2
  • French school 7
  • Historiography 8
    • INA archives 8.1
    • Contemporary publications 8.2
    • Other publications 8.3
      • English language 8.3.1
      • French language 8.3.2
  • Films 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Background: French Algeria

Conquest of Algeria

Battle of Somah in 1836

On the pretext of a slight to their consul, the French invaded Algiers in 1830.[20] Directed by Marshall Bugeaud, who became the first Governor-General of Algeria, the conquest was violent, marked by a "scorched earth" policy designed to reduce the power of the Dey; this included massacres, mass rapes, and other atrocities.[21]

In 1834, Algeria became a French military colony and, in 1848, was declared by the constitution of 1848 to be an integral part of France and divided into three French departments (Algiers, Oran and Constantine). After Algeria was divided into departments, many French and other Europeans (Spanish, Italians, Maltese, and others) settled in Algeria.

Under the Second Empire (1852–1871), the Code de l'indigénat (Indigenous Code) was implemented by the Sénatus-consulte of July 14, 1865. It allowed Muslims to apply for full French citizenship, a measure that few took, since it involved renouncing the right to be governed by sharia law in personal matters and was considered a kind of apostasy. Its first article stipulated:

The indigenous Muslim is French; however, he will continue to be subjected to Muslim law. He may be admitted to serve in the army (armée de terre) and the navy (armée de mer). He may be called to functions and civil employment in Algeria. He may, on his demand, be admitted to enjoy the rights of a French citizen; in this case, he is subjected to the political and civil laws of France. (for French original, see below)[22]
Arrival of Marshal Randon in Algiers in 1857

However, prior to 1870, fewer than 200 demands were registered by Muslims and 152 by Jewish Algerians.[23] The 1865 decree was then modified by the 1870 leaders who were imprisoned or transferred to other areas did not deter the French Algeria militants. Sent to prison in Paris and then paroled, Lagaillarde fled to Spain. There, with another French army officer, ultra Most of the Army heeded his call, and the siege of Algiers ended on February 1 with Lagaillarde surrendering to General Challe's command of the French Army in Algeria. The loss of many

I took, in the name of France, the following decision — the Algerians will have the free choice of their destiny. When, in one way or another – by ceasefire or by complete crushing of the rebels – we will have put an end to the fighting, when, after a prolonged period of appeasement, the population will have become conscious of the stakes and, thanks to us, realised the necessary progress in political, economic, social, educational, and other domains. Then it will be the Algerians who will tell us what they want to be.... Your French of Algeria, how can you listen to the liars and the conspirators who tell you that, if you grant free choice to the Algerians, France and de Gaulle want to abandon you, retreat from Algeria, and deliver you to the rebellion?.... I say to all of our soldiers: your mission comprises neither equivocation nor interpretation. You have to liquidate the rebellious forces, which want to oust France from Algeria and impose on this country its dictatorship of misery and sterility.... Finally, I address myself to France. Well, well, my dear and old country, here we face together, once again, a serious ordeal. In virtue of the mandate that the people have given me and of the national legitimacy, which I have incarned for 20 years, I ask everyone to support me whatever happens.[43]

In Paris on January 29, 1960, de Gaulle called on the army to remain loyal and rallied popular support for his Algerian policy in a televised address:

Convinced that de Gaulle had betrayed them, some units of European volunteers (Unités Territoriales) in Algiers led by student leaders custody.[42]

Barricades in Algiers. "Long live Massu" (Vive Massu) is written on the banner, January 1960.

The week of barricades

During this period in France, however, opposition to the conflict was growing among the population, notably the

"We are not making war for ourselves, not making a colonialist war, Bigeard wears no shirt (he shows his opened uniform) as do my officers. We are fighting right here right now for them, for the evolution, to see the evolution of these people and this war is for them. We are defending their freedom as we are, in my opinion, defending the West's freedom. We are here ambassadors, Crusaders, who are hanging on in order to still be able to talk and to be able to speak for." Col. Bigeard (July 1959)

From 1958–59, the French army won military control in Algeria and was the closest it would be to victory. In late July 1959, during Operation Jumelles, Colonel Bigeard, whose elite paratrooper unit fought at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, told journalist Jean Lartéguy, (source)

In February 1959, de Gaulle was elected president of the new Fifth Republic. He visited Constantine in October to announce a program to end the war and create an Algeria closely linked to France. De Gaulle's call on the rebel leaders to end hostilities and to participate in elections was met with adamant refusal. "The problem of a cease-fire in Algeria is not simply a military problem", said the GPRA's Abbas. "It is essentially political, and negotiation must cover the whole question of Algeria." Secret discussions that had been underway were broken off.

De Gaulle's initiative threatened the FLN with decreased support among Muslims. In reaction, the FLN set up the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Algérienne, GPRA), a government-in-exile headed by Abbas and based in Tunis. Before the referendum, Abbas lobbied for international support for the GPRA, which was quickly recognized by Morocco, Tunisia, China, and several other African, Arab, and Asian countries, but not by the Soviet Union.

De Gaulle immediately appointed a committee to draft a new constitution for France's Fifth Republic, which would be declared early the next year, with which Algeria would be associated but of which it would not form an integral part. All Muslims, including women, were registered for the first time on electoral rolls to participate in a referendum to be held on the new constitution in September 1958.

Many people, regardless of citizenship, greeted de Gaulle's return to power as the breakthrough needed to end the hostilities. On his June 4 trip to Algeria, de Gaulle calculatedly made an ambiguous and broad emotional appeal to all the inhabitants, declaring, "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you."). De Gaulle raised the hopes of the pied-noir and the professional military, disaffected by the indecisiveness of previous governments, with his exclamation of "Vive l'Algérie française" ("Long live French Algeria") to cheering crowds in Mostaganem. At the same time, he proposed economic, social, and political reforms to improve the situation of the Muslims. Nonetheless, de Gaulle later admitted to having harbored deep pessimism about the outcome of the Algerian situation even then. Meanwhile, he looked for a "third force" among the population of Algeria, uncontaminated by the FLN or the "ultras" (colon extremists) through whom a solution might be found.

De Gaulle

On May 24, French paratroopers from the Algerian corps landed on Corsica, taking the French island in a bloodless action, Opération Corse. Subsequently, preparations were made in Algeria for Operation Resurrection, which had as objectives the seizure of Paris and the removal of the French government. Resurrection was to be implemented in the event of one of three following scenarios: Were de Gaulle not approved as leader of France by the parliament; were de Gaulle to ask for military assistance to take power; or if it seemed that communist forces were making any move to take power in France. De Gaulle was approved by the French parliament on May 29, by 329 votes against 224, 15 hours before the projected launch of Operation Resurrection. This indicated that the Fourth Republic by 1958 no longer had any support from the French Army in Algeria and was at its mercy even in civilian political matters. This decisive shift in the balance of power in civil-military relations in France in 1958, and the threat of force was the main, immediate factor in the return of de Gaulle to power in France.

After his time as governor general, Soustelle returned to France to organize support for de Gaulle's return to power, while retaining close ties to the army and the pied-noirs. By early 1958, he had organized a coup d'état, bringing together dissident army officers and pied-noirs with sympathetic Gaullists. An army junta under General Massu seized power in Algiers on the night of May 13, thereafter known as the May 1958 crisis. General Salan assumed leadership of a Committee of Public Safety formed to replace the civil authority and pressed the junta's demands that de Gaulle be named by French president René Coty to head a government of national unity invested with extraordinary powers to prevent the "abandonment of Algeria."

Recurrent cabinet crises focused attention on the inherent instability of the Fourth Republic and increased the misgivings of the army and of the pied-noirs that the security of Algeria was being undermined by party politics. Army commanders chafed at what they took to be inadequate and incompetent political initiatives by the government in support of military efforts to end the rebellion. The feeling was widespread that another debacle like that of Indochina in 1954 was in the offing and that the government would order another precipitate pullout and sacrifice French honor to political expediency. Many saw in de Gaulle, who had not held office since 1946, the only public figure capable of rallying the nation and giving direction to the French government.

Fall of the Fourth Republic

The French Army shifted its tactics at the end of 1958 from dependence on quadrillage to the use of mobile forces deployed on massive search-and-destroy missions against FLN strongholds. In 1959, Salan's successor, General Maurice Challe, appeared to have suppressed major rebel resistance. But political developments had already overtaken the French Army's successes.

Finding it impossible to control all of Algeria's remote farms and villages, the French government also initiated a program of concentrating large segments of the rural population, including whole villages, in camps under military supervision to prevent them from aiding the rebels. In the three years (1957–60) during which the regroupement program was followed, more than 2 million Algerians[41] were removed from their villages, mostly in the mountainous areas, and resettled in the plains, where it was difficult to reestablish their previous economic and social systems. Living conditions in the fortified villages were poor. In hundreds of villages, orchards and croplands not already burned by French troops went to seed for lack of care. These population transfers effectively denied the use of remote villages to FLN guerrillas, who had used them as a source of rations and manpower, but also caused significant resentment on the part of the displaced villagers. Relocation's social and economic disruption continued to be felt a generation later.

The French military command ruthlessly applied the principle of collective responsibility to villages suspected of sheltering, supplying, or in any way cooperating with the guerrillas. Villages that could not be reached by mobile units were subject to aerial bombardment. FLN guerrillas that fled to caves or other remote hiding places were tracked and hunted down. In one episode, FLN guerrillas, who refused to surrender and withdraw from a cave complex, were dealt with by French Foreign Legion Pioneer troops, who, lacking flamethrowers or explosives, simply bricked up each cave, leaving the residents to die of suffocation.[40]

Electrified barriers along the entire length of Algeria's eastern and western borders

Late in 1957, General Raoul Salan, commanding the French Army in Algeria, instituted a system of quadrillage (surveillance using a grid pattern), dividing the country into sectors, each permanently garrisoned by troops responsible for suppressing rebel operations in their assigned territory. Salan's methods sharply reduced the instances of FLN terrorism but tied down a large number of troops in static defense. Salan also constructed a heavily patrolled system of barriers to limit infiltration from Tunisia and Morocco. The best known of these was the Morice Line (named for the French defense minister, André Morice), which consisted of an electrified fence, barbed wire, and mines over a 320-kilometer stretch of the Tunisian border.

The FLN also used pseudo-guerrilla strategies against the French Army on one occasion, with Force K, a group of 1,000 Algerians who volunteered to serve in Force K as guerrillas for the French. But most of these members were either already FLN members or were turned by the FLN once enlisted. Corpses of purported FLN members displayed by the unit were in fact those of dissidents and members of other Algerian groups killed by the FLN. The French Army finally discovered the war ruse and tried to hunt down Force K members. However, some 600 managed to escape and join the FLN with weapons and equipment.[39]

But it seemed that, as in Indochina, "the French focused on developing native guerrilla groups that would fight against the FLN", one of whom fought in the Southern Atlas Mountains, equipped by the French Army.[38]

French soldiers in Algeria, 1958

One organized pseudo-guerrilla unit, however, was created in December 1956 by the French false flag terrorist attacks with the aim of quashing any hopes of political compromise.[37]

Harkis were mostly used in conventional formations, either in all-Algerian units commanded by French officers or in mixed units. Other uses included [36] But this type of operation involved individual operatives rather than organized covert units.

French soldiers with suspected Algerian rebels

The French army resumed an important role in local Algerian administration through the Special Administration Section (Section Administrative Spécialisée, SAS), created in 1955. The SAS's mission was to establish contact with the Muslim population and weaken nationalist influence in the rural areas by asserting the "French presence" there. SAS officers—called képis bleus (blue caps)—also recruited and trained bands of loyal Muslim irregulars, known as harkis. Armed with shotguns and using guerrilla tactics similar to those of the FLN, the harkis, who eventually numbered about 180,000 volunteers, more than the FLN activists,[34] were an ideal instrument of counterinsurgency warfare.

Despite complaints from the military command in Algiers, the French government was reluctant for many months to admit that the Algerian situation was out of control and that what was viewed officially as a pacification operation had developed into a war. By 1956, there were more than 400,000 French troops in Algeria. Although the elite colonial infantry airborne units and the Foreign Legion bore the brunt of offensive counterinsurgency combat operations, approximately 170,000 Muslim Algerians also served in the regular French army, most of them volunteers. France also sent air force and naval units to the Algerian theater, including helicopters. In addition to service as a flying ambulance and cargo carrier, French forces utilized the helicopter for the first time in a ground attack role in order to pursue and destroy fleeing FLN guerrilla units. The American military later used the same helicopter combat methods in Vietnam. The French also used napalm,[33] which was depicted for the first time in the 2007 film L'Ennemi intime (Intimate Enemies) by Florent Emilio Siri.[33]

French counter-insurgency operations

The loss of competent field commanders both on the battlefield and through defections and political purges created difficulties for the FLN. Moreover, power struggles in the early years of the war split leadership in the wilayat, particularly in the Aurès. Some officers created their own fiefdoms, using units under their command to settle old scores and engage in private wars against military rivals within the FLN.

Muslim civilians killed by the FLN, 22 March 1956

Although successfully provoking fear and uncertainty within both communities in Algeria, the revolutionaries' coercive tactics suggested that they had not yet inspired the bulk of the Muslim people to revolt against French colonial rule. Gradually, however, the FLN gained control in certain sectors of the Aurès, the Kabylie, and other mountainous areas around Constantine and south of Algiers and Oran. In these places, the FLN established a simple but effective—although frequently temporary—military administration that was able to collect taxes and food and to recruit manpower. But it was never able to hold large, fixed positions.

During 1956 and 1957, the FLN successfully applied [32] (see Torture section).

1956 newsreel about the war

Guerrilla war

General Jacques Massu was instructed to use whatever methods deemed necessary to restore order in the city and to find and eliminate terrorists. Using paratroopers, he broke the strike and, in the succeeding months, destroyed the FLN infrastructure in Algiers. But the FLN had succeeded in showing its ability to strike at the heart of French Algeria and to assemble a mass response to its demands among urban Muslims. The publicity given to the brutal methods used by the army to win the Battle of Algiers, including the use of torture, strong movement control and curfew called quadrillage and where all authority was under the military, created doubt in France about its role in Algeria. What was originally "pacification" or a "public order operation" had turned into a colonial war accompanied by torture.

To increase international and domestic French attention to their struggle, the FLN decided to bring the conflict to the cities and to call a nationwide general strike and also to plant bombs in public places. The most notable instance was the Battle of Algiers, which began on September 30, 1956, when three women, including Djamila Bouhired and Zohra Drif, simultaneously placed bombs at three sites including the downtown office of Air France. The FLN carried out shootings and bombings in the spring of 1957, resulting in civilian casualties and a crushing response from the authorities.

Algiers: Muslim quarters (green), European quarters (orange), terrorist attacks

Battle of Algiers

The FLN considered him a fool, and some Pied-Noirs considered him a traitor. Nevertheless, in his speech when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in Oslo, Camus said that when faced with a radical choice he would eventually support his community. This statement made him lose his status among left-wing intellectuals; when he died in 1960 in a car crash, the official thesis of an ordinary accident (a quick open-and-shut case) left more than a few observers doubtful. His widow claimed that Camus, though discreet, was in fact an ardent supporter of French Algeria in the last years of his life.

Writer, philosopher and playwright Albert Camus, native of Algiers, often associated with existentialism, tried unsuccessfully to persuade both sides to at least leave civilians alone, writing editorials against the use of torture in Combat newspaper.

During 1957, support for the FLN weakened as the breach between the internals and externals widened. To halt the drift, the FLN expanded its executive committee to include Abbas, as well as imprisoned political leaders such as Ben Bella. It also convinced communist and Arab members of the United Nations (UN) to put diplomatic pressure on the French government to negotiate a cease-fire.

France opposed Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's material and political assistance to the FLN, which some French analysts believed was the revolution's main sustenance. This attitude was a factor in persuading France to participate in the November 1956 British attempt to seize the Suez Canal during the Suez Crisis.

In October 1956, the French Air Force intercepted a Moroccan DC-3 bound for Tunis, carrying Ahmed Ben Bella, Mohammed Boudiaf, Mohamed Khider and Hocine Aït Ahmed, and forced it to land in Algiers. Lacoste had the FLN external political leaders arrested and imprisoned for the duration of the war. This action caused the remaining rebel leaders to harden their stance.

In August and September 1956, the leadership of the FLN guerrillas operating within Algeria (popularly known as "internals") met to organize a formal policy-making body to synchronize the movement's political and military activities. The highest authority of the FLN was vested in the thirty-four member National Council of the Algerian Revolution (Conseil National de la Révolution Algérienne, CNRA), within which the five-man Committee of Coordination and Enforcement (Comité de Coordination et d'Exécution, CCE) formed the executive. The leadership of the regular FLN forces based in Tunisia and Morocco ("externals"), including Ben Bella, knew the conference was taking place but by chance or design on the part of the "internals" were unable to attend.

Soustelle's successor, Governor General Lacoste, a socialist, abolished the Algerian Assembly. Lacoste saw the assembly, which was dominated by pieds-noirs, as hindering the work of his administration, and he undertook the rule of Algeria by decree. He favored stepping up French military operations and granted the army exceptional police powers—a concession of dubious legality under French law—to deal with the mounting political violence. At the same time, Lacoste proposed a new administrative structure to give Algeria some autonomy and a decentralized government. Whilst remaining an integral part of France, Algeria was to be divided into five districts, each of which would have a territorial assembly elected from a single slate of candidates. Until 1958, deputies representing Algerian districts were able to delay the passage of the measure by the National Assembly of France.

The FLN adopted tactics similar to those of nationalist groups in Asia, and the French did not realize the seriousness of the challenge they faced until 1955, when the FLN moved into urbanized areas. "An important watershed in the War of Independence was the massacre of Pieds-Noirs civilians by the FLN near the town of Philippeville (now known as Skikda) in August, 1955. Before this operation, FLN policy was to attack only military and government-related targets. The commander of the Constantine wilaya/region, however, decided a drastic escalation was needed. The killing by the FLN and its supporters of 123 people, including 71 French,[30] including old women and babies, shocked Jacques Soustelle into calling for more repressive measures against the rebels. The government claimed it killed 1,273 guerrillas in retaliation; according to the FLN and to The Times, 12,000 Algerians were massacred by the armed forces and police, as well as Pieds-Noirs gangs.[31] Soustelle's repression was an early cause of the Algerian population's rallying to the FLN.[30] After Philippeville, Soustelle declared sterner measures and an all-out war began. In 1956, demonstrations by French Algerians caused the French government to not make reforms.

Examples of ALN uniforms:
1- Djoundi battle of the frontiers 1958
2- Zonal commando 1957-58
3- Machine gunner (in Winter field dress) 1957-59
ALN guerrillas using a mortar across the Algerian-Tunisian border protected by the electrified Morice Line. (1958)
Universal Newsreels Rebellion Spreads in North Africa, 1955

After the Philippeville massacre

By 1955, effective political action groups within the Algerian colonial community succeeded in convincing many of the governors general sent by Paris that the military was not the way to resolve the conflict. A major success was the conversion of Jacques Soustelle, who went to Algeria as governor general in January 1955 determined to restore peace. Soustelle, a one-time leftist and by 1955 an ardent Gaullist, began an ambitious reform program (the Soustelle Plan) aimed at improving economic conditions among the Muslim population.

As the FLN campaign of influence spread through the countryside, many European farmers in the interior (called Pieds-Noirs), many of whom lived on lands taken from Muslim communities during the nineteenth century,[29] sold their holdings and sought refuge in Algiers and other Algerian cities. After a series of bloody, random massacres and bombings by Muslim Algerians in several towns and cities, the French Pieds-Noirs and urban French population began to demand that the French government engage in sterner countermeasures, including the proclamation of a state of emergency, capital punishment for political crimes, denunciation of all separatists, and most ominously, a call for 'tit-for-tat' reprisal operations by police, military, and para-military forces. Colon vigilante units, whose unauthorized activities were conducted with the passive cooperation of police authorities, carried out ratonnades (literally, rat-hunts, raton being a racist term for denigrating Muslim Algerians) against suspected FLN members of the Muslim community.

On the political front, the FLN worked to persuade—and to coerce—the Algerian masses to support the aims of the independence movement through contributions. FLN-influenced labor unions, professional associations, and students' and women's organizations were created to lead opinion in diverse segments of the population, but here too, violent coercion was widely used. Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist from Martinique who became the FLN's leading political theorist, provided a sophisticated intellectual justification for the use of violence in achieving national liberation.[28] From Cairo, Ahmed Ben Bella ordered the liquidation of potential interlocuteurs valables, those independent representatives of the Muslim community acceptable to the French through whom a compromise or reforms within the system might be achieved.

After the collapse of the Café wars", resulting in nearly 5,000 deaths, were waged in France between the two rebel groups throughout the years of the War of Independence.

The FLN uprising presented nationalist groups with the question of whether to adopt armed revolt as the main course of action. During the first year of the war, Ferhat Abbas's Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (UDMA), the ulema, and the Algerian Communist Party (PCA) maintained a friendly neutrality toward the FLN. The communists, who had made no move to cooperate in the uprising at the start, later tried to infiltrate the FLN, but FLN leaders publicly repudiated the support of the party. In April 1956, Abbas flew to Cairo, where he formally joined the FLN. This action brought in many évolués who had supported the UDMA in the past. The AUMA also threw the full weight of its prestige behind the FLN. Bendjelloul and the pro-integrationist moderates had already abandoned their efforts to mediate between the French and the rebels.

ALN R.A. propaganda poster in Algiers, "The Algerian Revolution, a people at war against colonialist barbarity." (June 29, 1962, Rocher Noir)


In the early morning hours of November 1, 1954, FLN maquisards (guerrillas) attacked military and civilian targets throughout Algeria in what became known as the Toussaint Rouge (Red All-Saints' Day). From Cairo, the FLN broadcast a proclamation calling on Muslims in Algeria to join in a national struggle for the "restoration of the Algerian state – sovereign, democratic and social – within the framework of the principles of Islam." It was the reaction of Premier Pierre Mendès France (Radical-Socialist Party), who only a few months before had completed the liquidation of France's tete empire in Indochina, which set the tone of French policy for five years. He declared in the National Assembly, "One does not compromise when it comes to defending the internal peace of the nation, the unity and integrity of the Republic. The Algerian departments are part of the French Republic. They have been French for a long time, and they are irrevocably French. ... Between them and metropolitan France there can be no conceivable secession." At first, and despite the Sétif massacre of May 8, 1945, and the pro-Independence struggle before World War II, most Algerians were in favor of a relative status-quo. While Messali Hadj had radicalized by forming the FLN, Ferhat Abbas maintained a more moderate, electoral strategy. Fewer than 500 fellaghas (pro-Independence fighters) could be counted at the beginning of the conflict.[27] The Algerian population radicalized itself in particular because of the Main Rouge (Red Hand) attacks.[27] This group engaged in anti-colonialist actions in all of the Maghreb region (Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria), killing, for example, Tunisian activist Farhat Hached in 1952.

French forces killed Algerian rebels, December 1954

Beginning of hostilities

War chronology

On the other hand, nationalist leader Ferhat Abbas founded the Algerian Popular Union (Union populaire algérienne) in 1938, while writing in 1943 the Algerian People's Manifest (Manifeste du peuple algérien). Arrested after the Sétif massacre of May 8, 1945, during which the French Army and pieds-noirs mobs killed about 6,000 Algerians,[26] Abbas founded the Democratic Union of the Algerian Manifesto (UDMA) in 1946 and was elected as a deputy. Founded in 1954, the National Liberation Front (FLN) succeeded Messali Hadj's Algerian People's Party (PPA), while its leaders created an armed wing, the Armée de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Army) to engage in an armed struggle against French authority. France, which had just lost Indochina, was determined not to lose the next anti-colonial war, particularly not in its oldest and nearest major colony.

The North African Star broke from the PCF in 1928, before being dissolved in 1929 at Paris's demand. Amid growing discontent from the Algerian population, the Third Republic (1871–1940) acknowledged some demands, and the Popular Front initiated the Blum-Viollette proposal in 1936 which was supposed to enlighten the Indigenous Code by giving French citizenship to a small number of Muslims. The pieds-noirs (Algerians of European origin) violently demonstrated against it and the North African Party opposed it, leading to the project's abandonment. The pro-independence party was dissolved in 1937, and its leaders were charged with the illegal reconstitution of a dissolved league, leading to Messali Hadj's 1937 founding of the Parti du peuple algérien (Algerian People's Party, PPA), which, at this time, no longer espoused full independence but only extensive autonomy. This new party was dissolved in 1939. Under Vichy, the French state attempted to abrogate the Crémieux decree in order to suppress the Jews' French citizenship, but the measure was never implemented.

Anti-French protests in Algeria on 8 May 1945

Within this context, a grandson of Abd el-Kadir, spearheaded the resistance against the French in the first half of the 20th century. He was a member of the directing committee of the French Communist Party (PCF)). In 1926, he founded the Étoile Nord-Africaine (North African Star) party, to which Messali Hadj, also a member of the PCF and of its affiliated trade union, the Confédération générale du travail unitaire (CGTU), joined the following year.

Both Muslim and European Algerians took part in World War I, fighting for France. Algerian Muslims served as tirailleurs (such regiments were created as early as 1842[25]) and spahis ; and French settlers as Zouaves or Chasseurs d'Afrique. With Wilson's 1918 proclamation of the Fourteen Points, whose fifth point proclaimed: "A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined", some Algerian intellectuals—dubbed oulémas began to nurture the desire for independence or, at least, autonomy and self-rule.

1954 film about French Algeria

Algerian nationalism

Algeria was unique to France because, unlike all other overseas possessions acquired by France during the 19th century, only Algeria was considered and legally classified an integral part of France.

After World War II, equality of rights was proclaimed by the Ordonnance of March 7, 1944, and later confirmed by the Loi Lamine Guèye of May 7, 1946, which granted French citizenship to all the subjects of France's territories and overseas departments, and by the 1946 Constitution. The Law of September 20, 1947, granted French citizenship to all Algerian subjects, who were not required to renounce their Muslim personal status.[24]

[23] animated conferences there, and the maxim "This Army must be fanatic, despising luxury, animated by the spirit of the Crusades." appeared on the walls.[44] Pierre Messmer hence dissolved structures which had turned themselves against de Gaulle, leaving the "revolutionary war" to the exclusive responsibility of Gaullist General André Beaufre.[42]

The French army officers' uprising was due to a perceived second betrayal by the government, the first being Indochina (1947–1954). In some aspects the Dien Bien Phu garrison was sacrificed with no metropolitan support, order was given to commanding officer General de Castries to "let the affair die of its own, in serenity" ("laissez mourrir l'affaire d'elle même en sérénité"[45]).

The opposition of the MNEF student trade-union to the participation of conscripts in the war led to a secession in May 1960, with the creation of the Fédération des étudiants nationalistes (FEN, Federation of Nationalist Students) around Dominique Venner, a former member of Jeune Nation and of MP-13, François d'Orcival and Alain de Benoist, who would theorize in the 1980s the "New Right" movement. The FEN then published the Manifeste de la classe 60.

A Yvon Chautard, Jean-Louis Tixier-Vignancour (who later competed in the 1965 presidential election), Jacques Isorni, Victor Barthélemy, François Brigneau and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Another ultra rebellion occurred in December 1960, which led de Gaulle to dissolve the FNAF.

After the publication of the Manifeste des 121 against the use of torture and the war,[46] the opponents to the war created the Rassemblement de la gauche démocratique (Assembly of the Democratic Left), which included the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) socialist party, the Radical-Socialist Party, Force ouvrière (FO) trade union, Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens trade-union, FEN trade-union, etc., which supported de Gaulle against the ultras.

Role of women

FLN female bombers

Women participated in a variety of roles during the Algerian War. The majority of Muslim women who became active participants did so on the side of the National Liberation Front (FLN). The French included some women, both Muslim and French, in their war effort, but they were not as fully integrated, nor were they charged with the same breadth of tasks as the women on the Algerian side. The total number of women involved in the conflict, as determined by post-war veteran registration, is numbered at 11,000, but it is possible that this number was significantly higher due to underreporting.[47]

Urban and rural women's experiences in the revolution were much different. Urban women, who constituted about twenty percent of the overall force, had received some kind of education and usually chose to enter on the side of the FLN of their own accord.[48] Largely illiterate rural women, on the other hand, the remaining eighty percent, due to their geographic location in respect to the operations of FLN often became involved in the conflict as a result of proximity paired with force.[48]

Women operated in a number of different areas during the course of the rebellion. "Women participated actively as combatants, spies, fundraisers, as well as nurses, launderers, and cooks",[49] "women assisted the male fighting forces in areas like transportation, communication and administration" [50] the range of involvement by a woman could include both combatant and non-combatant roles. While most women's tasks were non-combatant, their less frequent, violent acts were more noticed. The reality was that "rural women in maquis rural areas support networks"[51] contained the overwhelming majority of those who participated; female combatants were in the minority.

End of the war

Universal Newsreel about the 1962 cease fire

De Gaulle convoked the first referendum on the self-determination of Algeria on January 8, 1961, which 75% of the voters (both in France and Algeria) approved and de Gaulle's government began secret peace negotiations with the FLN. In the Algerian départements 69.51% voted in favor of self-determination.[52]

The generals' putsch in April 1961, aimed at canceling the government's negotiations with the FLN, marked the turning point in the official attitude toward the Algerian war. De Gaulle was now prepared to abandon the pieds-noirs, which no previous French government was willing to do. The army had been discredited by the putsch and kept a low profile politically throughout the rest of France's involvement with Algeria.

Talks with the FLN reopened at Évian in May 1961; after several false starts, the French government decreed that a ceasefire would take effect on March 18, 1962. In their final form, the Évian Accords allowed the pieds-noirs equal legal protection with Algerians over a three-year period. These rights included respect for property, participation in public affairs, and a full range of civil and cultural rights. At the end of that period, however, all Algerian residents would be obliged to become Algerian citizens or be classified as aliens with the attendant loss of rights. The agreement also allowed France to establish military bases in Algeria even after independence (including the nuclear test site of Regghane, the naval base of Mers-el-Kebir and the air base of Bou Sfer) and to have privileges vis-à-vis Algerian oil.

In the second referendum on the independence of Algeria, held in April 1962, 91 percent of the French electorate approved the Evian Accords. On July 1, 1962, some 6 million of a total Algerian electorate of 6.5 million cast their ballots. The vote was nearly unanimous, with 5,992,115 votes for independence, 16,534 against, with most Pied-noirs and Harkis either having fled or abstaining.[53] De Gaulle pronounced Algeria an independent country on July 3. The Provisional Executive, however, proclaimed July 5, the 132nd anniversary of the French entry into Algeria, as the day of national independence.

During the three months between the cease-fire and the French referendum on Algeria, the OAS unleashed a new campaign. The OAS sought to provoke a major breach in the ceasefire by the FLN but the attacks now were aimed also against the French army and police enforcing the accords as well as against Muslims. It was the most wanton carnage that Algeria had witnessed in eight years of savage warfare. OAS operatives set off an average of 120 bombs per day in March, with targets including hospitals and schools.

Summer 1962 saw a rush of pied-noirs to France. Within a year, 1.4 million refugees, including almost the entire Jewish community, had joined the exodus to France. Despite the declaration of independence on July 5, 1962, the last French forces did not leave the naval base of Mers El Kébir until 1967. (The Evian Accords had permitted France to maintain its military presence for fifteen years—the withdrawal in 1967 was significantly ahead of schedule.)[54]

Pieds-Noirs' and Harkis' exodus

Pieds-Noirs (including indigenous Mizrachi and Sephardi Jews) and Harkis accounted for 13% of the total population of Algeria in 1962. For the sake of clarity, each group's exodus is described separately here, although their fate shared many common elements.


Commandos de Chasse of the 4th Zouave regiment. Zouave regiments were mostly composed of European settlers.

Pied-noir (literally "black foot") is a term used to name the European-descended population (mostly Catholic), who had resided in Algeria for generations; it is sometimes used to include the indigenous Sephardi Jewish population as well, which likewise emigrated after 1962. Europeans arrived in Algeria as immigrants from all over the western Mediterranean (particularly France, Spain, Italy and Malta), starting in 1830. The Jews arrived in several waves, some coming as early as 600 BC and during the Roman period, known as the Maghrebi Jews or Berber Jews. The Maghrebi Jewish population was outnumbered by the Sephardic Jews, driven out of Spain in 1492 and was further strengthened by Marranos refugees from the Spanish Inquisition through the 16th century. Algerian Jews largely embraced French citizenship after the décret Crémieux in 1871. In 1959, the pieds-noirs numbered 1,025,000 (85% of European Christian descent, and 15% were made up of the indigenous Algerian population of Maghrebi and Sephardi Jewish descent), and accounted for 10.4% of the total population of Algeria. In just a few months in 1962, 900,000 of them fled, the first third prior to the referendum, in the largest relocation of population to Europe since the Second World War. A motto used in the FLN propaganda designating the Pied-noirs community was "Suitcase or coffin" ("La valise ou le cercueil") – an expropriation of a term first coined years earlier by pied-noir "ultras" when rallying the European community to their hardcore line.

The French government claimed not to have anticipated such a massive exodus; it estimated that a maximum of 250–300,000 might enter metropolitan France temporarily. Nothing was planned for their move to France, and many had to sleep in streets or abandoned farms on their arrival. A minority of departing pieds-noirs, including soldiers, destroyed their possessions before departure, to protest and as a desperate symbolic attempt to leave no trace of over a century of European presence, but the vast majority of their goods and houses were left intact and abandoned. Scenes of thousands of panicked people camping for weeks on the docks of Algerian harbors waiting for a space on a boat to France were common from April to August 1962. About 100,000 pieds-noirs chose to remain, but most of those gradually left in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily due to residual hostility against them, including machine-gunning of public places in Oran.[55]


Young Harki in uniform, summer 1961.

The so-called Harkis, from the Algerian-Arabic dialect word harki (soldier), were indigenous Muslim Algerians (as opposed to European-descended Catholics or indigenous Algerian Mizrachi Sephardi Jews) who fought as auxiliaries on the French side. Some of these were veterans of the Free French Forces who participated in the liberation of France during World War II or in the Indochina War. The term also came to include civilian indigenous Algerians who supported a French Algeria. According to French government figures, there were 236,000 Algerian Muslims serving in the French Army in 1962 (four times more than in the FLN), either in regular units (Spahis and Tirailleurs) or as irregulars (harkis and moghaznis). Some estimates suggest that, with their families, the indigenous Muslim loyalists may have numbered as many as 1 million[56][57]

In 1962, around 91,000 Harkis took refuge in France, despite French government policy against this. Pierre Messmer, Minister of the Armies, and Louis Joxe, Minister for Algerian Affairs, gave orders to this effect. The Harkis were seen as traitors by many Algerians, and many of those who stayed behind suffered severe reprisals after independence. French historians estimate that somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and members of their families were killed by the FLN or by lynch mobs in Algeria, often in atrocious circumstances or after torture.[58] The abandonment of the "Harkis" both in terms of non-recognition of those who died defending a French Algeria and the neglect of those who escaped to France, remains an issue that France has not fully resolved—although the government of Jacques Chirac made efforts to give recognition to the suffering of these former allies.[59]

Death toll

Ex-voto in Notre-Dame de la Garde thanking for the safe return of a son from Algeria, August 1958

While it is difficult to enumerate the war's casualties, the FLN (National Liberation Front) estimated in 1964 that nearly eight years of revolution effected 1.5 million deaths from war-related causes. Some other French and Algerian sources later put the figure at approximately 960,000 dead, while French officials estimated it at 350,000. French military authorities listed their losses at nearly 25,600 dead (6,000 from non-combat-related causes) and 65,000 wounded. European-descended civilian casualties exceeded 10,000 (including 3,000 dead) in 42,000 recorded violent incidents. According to French official figures during the war, the army, security forces and militias killed 141,000 presumed rebel combatants.[60] But it is still unclear whether this includes some civilians.

More than 12,000 Algerians died in internal FLN purges during the war. In France, an additional 5,000 died in the "café wars" between the FLN and rival Algerian groups. French sources also estimated that 70,000 Muslim civilians were killed or abducted and presumed killed, by the FLN.[60]

Historians, like Alistair Horne and Raymond Aron, state that the actual number of Algerian Muslim war dead was far greater than the original FLN and official French estimates, but was fewer than the 1 million deaths claimed by the Algerian government after independence. Horne estimated Algerian casualties during the span of eight years to be around 700,000. Uncounted thousands of Muslim civilians lost their lives in French Army ratissages, bombing raids, or vigilante reprisals. The war uprooted more than 2 million Algerians, who were forced to relocate in French camps or to flee into the Algerian hinterland, where many thousands died of starvation, disease, and exposure. In addition, large numbers of pro-French Muslims were murdered when the FLN settled accounts after independence,[61] with 30,000 to 150,000 killed in Algeria in post-war reprisals.[60]

Lasting effects in Algerian politics

After Algeria's independence was recognised, Ahmed Ben Bella quickly became more popular and thereby more powerful. In June 1962, he challenged the leadership of Premier Benyoucef Ben Khedda; this led to several disputes among his rivals in the FLN, which were quickly suppressed by Ben Bella's rapidly growing support, most notably within the armed forces. By September, Bella was in de facto control of Algeria and was elected premier in a one-sided election on September 20, and was recognised by the U.S. on September 29. Algeria was admitted as the 109th member of the United Nations on October 8, 1962. Afterward, Ben Bella declared that Algeria would follow a neutral course in world politics; within a week he met with U.S. President John F. Kennedy, requesting more aid for Algeria with Fidel Castro and expressed approval of Castro's demands for the abandonment of Guantanamo Bay. Bella returned to Algeria and requested that France withdraw from its bases there. In November, his government banned political parties, providing that the FLN would be the only party allowed to function overtly. Shortly thereafter, in 1965, Bella was deposed and placed under house arrest (and later exiled) by Houari Boumédiènne, who served as president until his death in 1978. Algeria remained stable, though in a one-party state, until a violent civil war broke out in the 1990s.

For Algerians of many political factions, the legacy of their War of Independence was a legitimization or even sanctification of the unrestricted use of force in achieving a goal deemed to be justified. Once invoked against foreign colonialists, the same principle could also be turned with relative ease against fellow Algerians. The FLN's struggle to overthrow colonial rule and the ruthlessness exhibited by both sides in that struggle were to be mirrored 30 years later by the passion, determination, and brutality of the conflict between the FLN government and the Islamist opposition.


French use

Torture was a frequent process in use from the beginning of the colonization of Algeria, which started in 1830. Claude Bourdet had denounced these acts on December 6, 1951, in the magazine L'Observateur, rhetorically asking, "Is there a Gestapo in Algeria?" Torture was also used on both sides during the First Indochina War (1946–54)[62][63][64] D. Huf, in his seminal work on the subject, argued that the use of torture was one of the major factors in developing French opposition to the war.[65] Huf argued, "Such tactics sat uncomfortably with France's revolutionary history, and brought unbearable comparisons with Nazi Germany. The French national psyche would not tolerate any parallels between their experiences of occupation and their colonial mastery of Algeria." General Paul Aussaresses admitted in 2000 that systematic torture techniques were used during the war and justified it. He also recognized the assassination of lawyer Ali Boumendjel and the head of the FLN in Algiers, Larbi Ben M'Hidi, which had been disguised as suicides.[66] Bigeard, who called FLN activists "savages", claimed torture was a "necessary evil."[67][68] To the contrary, General Jacques Massu denounced it, following Aussaresses's revelations and, before his death, pronounced himself in favor of an official condemnation of the use of torture during the war.[69]

Bigeard's justification of torture has been criticized by Joseph Doré, archbishop of Strasbourg, Marc Lienhard, president of the Lutheran Church of Augsbourg Confession in Alsace-Lorraine, and others.[70]

In June 2000, Bigeard declared that he was based in Sidi Ferruch, a torture center where Algerians were murdered. Bigeard qualified Louisette Ighilahriz's revelations, published in the Le Monde newspaper on June 20, 2000, as "lies." An ALN activist, Louisette Ighilahriz had been tortured by General Massu.[71] However, since General Massu's revelations, Bigeard has admitted the use of torture, although he denies having personally used it, and has declared, "You are striking the heart of an 84-year-old man." Bigeard also recognized that Larbi Ben M'Hidi was assassinated and that his death was disguised as a suicide. Paul Teitgen, prefect of Algiers, also revealed that Bigeard's troops threw Algerians into the sea from helicopters, the corpses, found in open waters were nicknamed "crevettes Bigeard" ("Bigeard's shrimps"). This tactic was later theorized in Argentina by Admiral Luis María Mendía, as "death flights."[72]

Algerian use

Specializing in ambushes and night raids to avoid direct contact with superior French firepower, the internal forces targeted army patrols, military encampments, police posts, and colonial farms, mines, and factories, as well as transportation and communications facilities. Kidnapping was commonplace, as were the murder and mutilation of civilians.[32] At first, the FLN targeted only Muslim officials of the colonial regime; later, they coerced, maimed, or killed village elders, government employees, and even simple peasants who refused to support them. Throat slitting and decapitation were commonly used by the FLN as mechanisms of terror.[73] During the first two and a half years of the conflict, the guerrillas killed an estimated 6,352 Muslim and 1,035 non-Muslim civilians.[74]

French school

Counter-insurgency tactics developed during the war were used afterward elsewhere, including the Argentine Dirty War in the 1970s. In a book, journalist Marie-Monique Robin alleges that French secret agents taught Argentine intelligence agents counter-insurgency tactics, including the systemic use of torture, block-warden system, and other techniques, all employed during the 1957 Battle of Algiers. The Battle of Algiers film includes the documentation. Robin found the document proving that a secret military agreement tied France to Argentina from 1959 until the election of President François Mitterrand in 1981.


French North African Operations medal, 11 January 1958

Although the opening of the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after a 30-year lock-up enabled some new historical research on the war, including Jean-Charles Jauffret's book, La Guerre d'Algérie par les documents (The Algerian War According to the Documents), many remain inaccessible.[75] The recognition in 1999 by the National Assembly, permitted the Algerian War, at last, to enter the syllabi of French schools.

The Algerian War remains a contentious event today. According to historian Benjamin Stora, one of the leading historians on the Algerian war, memories concerning the war remain fragmented, with no common ground to speak of:

There is no such thing as a history of the Algerian War; there is just a multitude of histories and personal paths through it. Everyone involved considers that they lived through it in their own way, and any attempt to understand the Algerian War globally is immediately rejected by protagonists.[76]

Even though Stora has counted 3,000 publications in French on the Algerian war, there still is no work produced by French and Algerian authors cooperating with one another. Even though, according to Stora, there can "no longer be talk about a 'war without a name', a number of problems remain, especially the absence of sites in France to commemorate" the war. Furthermore, conflicts have arisen on an exact commemoration date to end the war. Although many sources as well as the French state place it on March 19, 1962, the Evian agreements, others point out that the massacres of harkis and the kidnapping of pied-noirs took place afterwards.

Stora further points out, "The phase of memorial reconciliation between the two sides of the sea is still a long way off."[76] This was evidenced by the National Assembly's creation of the law on colonialism on 23 February 2005, which asserted that colonialism had overall been "positive."

Alongside a heated debate in France, the February 23, 2005, law had the effect of jeopardizing the treaty of friendship that President Jacques Chirac was supposed to sign with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika — a treaty no longer on the agenda. Following this controversial law, Bouteflika has talked about a cultural genocide, particularly referring to the 1945 Sétif massacre. Chirac finally had the law repealed through a complex institutional mechanism.

Another matter concerns the teaching of the war, as well as of colonialism and decolonization, in particular in French secondary schools[77] Hence, there is only one reference to racism in a French textbook, one published by Bréal publishers for terminales students (those passing their baccalauréat). Thus, many are not surprised that the first to speak about the October 17, 1961, massacre were music bands, including, but not only, hip-hop bands such as the famous Suprême NTM ("les Arabes dans la Seine") or politically engaged La Rumeur. Indeed, the Algerian War is not even the subject of a specific chapter in textbook for terminales[75] Henceforth, Benjamin Stora stated:

As Algerians do not appear in an "indigenous" condition, and their sub-citizens status, as the history of nationalist movement, is never evoked as their being one of great figures of the resistance, such as Messali Hadj and Ferhat Abbas. They neither emerge nor are being given attention. No one is explaining to students what colonization has been. We have prevented students from understanding why the decolonization took place.[75]

In metropolitan France in 1963, 43% of French Algerians lived in bidonvilles (shanty towns).[78] Thus, Azouz Begag, the delegate Minister for Equal Opportunities, wrote an autobiographic novel, Le Gone du Chaâba, about his experiences while living in a bidonville in the outskirts of Lyon. It is impossible to understand the third-generation of Algerian immigrants to France without recalling this bicultural experience. An official parliamentary report on the "prevention of criminality", commanded by then Interior Minister Villepin and made by member of parliament Jacques-Alain Bénisti, claimed that "Multilingualism (bilinguisme) was a factor of criminality." (sic[79]). Following outcries, the definitive version of the Bénisti report finally made multilingualism an asset rather than a fault.[80]

After having denied its use for 40 years, the French state has finally recognized its history of torture; although, there was never an official proclamation about it. Paul Aussaresses was sentenced following his justification of the use of torture for "apology of war crimes." But, as it did during wartime, the French state claimed torture was an isolated act, instead of admitting its responsibility for the frequent use of torture to break the insurgents' morale and not, as Aussaresses has claimed, to "save lives" by gaining short-term information which would stop "terrorists".[81] The state now claims that it was a regrettable incident due to the context of the war. But academic research has proven both theses false. "Torture in Algeria was engraved in the colonial act; it is a 'normal' illustration of an abnormal system", wrote Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard and Sandrine Lemaire, who discuss the phenomena of "human zoos."[82] From the enfumades (smoking parlors) of the Darha caves in 1844 by Pélissier to the 1945 riots in Sétif, Guelma, and Kherrata, the repression in Algeria has used the same methods. Following the Sétif massacres, other riots against the European presence occurred in Guelma, Batna, Biskra, and Kherrata; they resulted in 103 deaths among the pied-noirs. The suppression of these riots officially saw 1,500 other deaths, but N. Bancel, P. Blanchard and S. Lemaire estimate the number to be between 6,000 and 8,000.[82]

INA archives

Note: concerning the audio and film archives from the Institut national de l'audiovisuel (INA), see Benjamin Stora's comments on their politically oriented creation.[76]

  • Cinq Colonnes à la une, Rushes Interview Pied-Noir, ORTF, July 1, 1962
  • Cinq Colonnes à la une, Rétrospective Algérie, ORTF, June 9, 1963 (concerning these INA archives, see also Benjamin Stora's warning about the conditions of creation of these images)

Contemporary publications

  • Trinquier, Roger. Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency (1961)
  • Leulliette, Pierre, St. Michael and the Dragon: Memoirs of a Paratrooper, Houghton Mifflin, 1964
  • Galula, David, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (1964)
  • Jouhaud, Edmond. O Mon Pays Perdu: De Bou-Sfer a Tulle. Paris: Librarie Artheme Fayard, 1969.
  • Maignen, Etienne Treillis au djebel – Les Piliers de Tiahmaïne Yellow Concept, 2004.
  • Derradji, Abder-Rahmane, The Algerian Guerrilla Campaign Strategy & Tactics, The Edwin Mellen Press, New York, USA, 1997.

Other publications

English language

  • Aussaresses, General Paul. The Battle of the Casbah, New York: Enigma Books, 2010, ISBN 978-1-929631-30-8.
  • Maran, Rita (1989). Torture: The Role of Ideology in the French-Algerian War, New York: Prager Publishers.
  • Windrow, Martin. The Algerian War 1954–62. London: Osprey Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-85532-658-2
  • Arslan Humbaraci. Algeria: a revolution that failed. London: Pall mall Press Ltd, 1966.

French language

Translations may be available for some of these works. See specific cases.

  • Benot, Yves (1994). Massacres coloniaux, La Découverte, coll. "Textes à l'appui", Paris.
  • Jauffret, Jean-Charles. La Guerre d'Algérie par les documents (first tome, 1990; second tome, 1998; account here)
  • Rey-Goldzeiguer, Annie (2001). Aux origines de la guerre d'Algérie, La Découverte, Paris.
  • Robin, Marie-Monique. Escadrons de la mort, l'école française,453 pages. La Découverte (15 September 2004). Collection: Cahiers libres. (ISBN 2-7071-4163-1) (Spanish transl.: Los Escuadrones De La Muerte/ the Death Squadron), 539 pages. Sudamericana; Édition: Translatio (October 2005). (ISBN 950-07-2684-X)
  • Mekhaled, Boucif (1995). Chroniques d'un massacre. 8 mai 1945. Sétif, Guelma, Kherrata, Syros, Paris, 1995.
  • Slama, Alain-Gérard (1996). La Guerre d'Algérie. Histoire d'une déchirure, Gallimard, coll. "Découvertes", Paris.
  • Vidal-Naquet, Pierre. La Torture sous la République (1970) and many others, more recent (see entry).
  • Roy, Jules (1960). "La guerre d'Algérie" ("The War in Algeria", 1961, Grove Press)
  • Etienne Maignen. Treillis au djebel- Les Piliers de Tiahmaïne Yellow Concept 2004.
  • Gilbert Meynier. Histoire intérieure du FLN 1954–1962 Fayard 2004.


See also


  1. ^ a b University of North Carolina Asheville [9]
  2. ^ a b Irwin M. Wall, France, the United States, and the Algerian War, pp, 68-69. [10]
  3. ^ Martin Windrow, The Algerian War 1954–62. p. 17
  4. ^ [11] Page 6 "The Algerian Ministry of War Veterans gives the figure of 152,863 FLN killed"
  5. ^ [12] "The Algerian Ministry of War Veterans calculates 152,863 Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) deaths, and although the death toll among Algerian civilians may never be accurately known" Page 576
  6. ^ A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 - Alistair Horne - P358 (4,300 Algerian from the FLN and MNA killed in metropolitan France)
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of Middle East Wars, The: The United States in the Persian Gulf - by Spencer C. Tucker p 83 [13]
  8. ^ [14] Note: including 5,966 killed in accident - A Military History of Africa - Timothy J. Stapleton
  9. ^ Note: 2,788 killed, 500 disappeared in 42,000 acts of terrorism - Historicizing Colonial Nostalgia: European Women's Narratives of Algeria - Patricia M. E. Lorcin - P255 - Read here
  10. ^ North Africa - John G. Hall,Chelsea House Publishing - P26
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict: Po - Z, index. 3 - P86
  12. ^ America's Dirty Wars: Irregular Warfare from 1776 to the War on Terror Par Russell Crandall. P184
  13. ^ Guy Pervillé, Pour une histoire de la guerre d´Algérie, chap. "Une double guerre civile", Picard, 2002, pp.132–139
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Proclamation des résultats du référendum d'autodétermination du 1er juillet 1962" (PDF). Journal Officiel de l'État Algérien. 6 July 1962. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  19. ^ Évian accords, Chapitre II, partie A, article 2
  20. ^ Alistair Horne, (2006). A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962, New York
  21. ^   (quoting Alexis de Tocqueville, Travail sur l'Algérie in Œuvres complètes, Paris, Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1991, pp 704 and 705.(English)/(French)
  22. ^ "L'indigène musulman est français; néanmoins il continuera à être régi par la loi musulmane. Il peut être admis à servir dans les armées de terre et de mer. Il peut être appelé à des fonctions et emplois civils en Algérie. Il peut, sur sa demande, être admis à jouir des droits de citoyen français; dans ce cas, il est régi par les lois civiles et politiques de la France" (article 1 of the 1865 Code de l'indigénat)
  23. ^ a b le code de l'indigénat dans l'Algérie coloniale, Human Rights League (LDH), March 6, 2005 – URL accessed on January 17, 2007 (French)
  24. ^ Gianluca P. Parolin, Citizenship in the Arab World: Kin, Religion and Nation, Amsterdam University Press, 2009, pp. 94–95
  25. ^ les tirailleurs, bras armé de la France coloniale, Human Rights League (LDH), August 25, 2004 – URL accessed on January 17, 2007 (French)
  26. ^ Horne, Alistair, A Savage War of Peace, s. 27
  27. ^ a b "Alger-Bagdad", account of Yves Boisset's film documentary, La Bataille d'Algers (2006), in Le Canard enchaîné, January 10, 2007, n°4498, p.7
  28. ^ Wretched of the Earth, 1961, Fanon.
  29. ^ Hussey, Andrew (27 January 2013). "Algiers: a city where France is the promised land – and still the enemy". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2013. Meanwhile, Muslim villages were destroyed and whole populations forced to move to accommodate European farms and industry. As the pieds-noirs grew in number and status, the native Algerians, who had no nationality under French law, did not officially exist. 
  30. ^ a b Number given by the Préfecture du Gers, French governmental site – URL accessed on February 17, 2007
  31. ^ The Times Report published on August 22, 1955
  32. ^ a b
  33. ^ a b Benjamin Stora, "Avoir 20 ans en Kabylie", in L'Histoire n°324, October 2007, pp.28–29 (French)
  34. ^ Major Gregory D. Peterson, The French Experience in Algeria, 1954–62: Blueprint for U.S. Operations in Iraq, Ft Leavenworth, Kansas: School of Advanced Military Studies, p.33
  35. ^ John Pimlott, "The French Army: From Indochina to Chad, 1946–1984", in Ian F. W. Beckett and John Pimlott, Armed Forces & Modern Counter-Insurgency, New York: St Martin's Press, 1985, p. 66
  36. ^ Martin S. Alexander and J. F. V. Kieger, "France and the Algerian War: Strategy, Operations, and Diplomacy", Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol.25, No. 2, June 2002, pp. 6–7
  37. ^ Roger Faligot and Pascal Krop, DST, Police Secrète, Flammarion, 1999, p. 174
  38. ^ Lawrence E. Cline, "Pseudo Operations and Counterinsurgency: Lessons From Other Countries", p. 8 June 2005, ISBN 1-58487-199-7, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) (available here)
  39. ^ Lawrence E. Cline, "Pseudo Operations and Counterinsurgency: Lessons From Other Countries", p. 8 June 2005, ISBN 1-58487-199-7, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) (available here Cline sends for more details to Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–62, London: Mac Millan, 1977, pp. 255–257)
  40. ^ Leulliette, Pierre, St. Michael and the Dragon: Memoirs of a Paratrooper, Houghton Mifflin, 1964
  41. ^ Algeria - The Revolution and Social Change
  42. ^ a b c Quand le stay-behind voulait remplacer De Gaulle, Thierry Meyssan, September 10, 2001, Voltaire Network (French)
  43. ^ French: "J'ai pris, au nom de la France, la décision que voici: les Algériens auront le libre choix de leur destin. Quand d'une manière ou d'une autre – conclusion d'un cessez-le-feu ou écrasement total des rebelles – nous aurons mis un terme aux combats, quand, ensuite, après une période prolongée d'apaisement, les populations auront pu prendre conscience de l'enjeu et, d'autre part, accomplir, grâce à nous, les progrès nécessaires dans les domaines, politique, économique, social, scolaire, etc., alors ce seront les Algériens qui diront ce qu'ils veulent être. ... Français d'Algérie, comment pouvez-vous écouter les menteurs et les conspirateurs qui vous disent qu'en accordant le libre choix aux Algériens, la France et De Gaulle veulent vous abandonner, se retirer de l'Algérie et vous livrer à la rébellion? ... Je dis à tous nos soldats: votre mission ne comporte ni équivoque, ni interprétation. Vous avez à liquider la force rebelle qui veut chasser la France de l'Algérie et faire régner sur ce pays sa dictature de misère et de stérilité. ... Enfin, je m'adresse à la France. Eh bien! mon cher et vieux pays, nous voici donc ensemble, encore une fois, face à une lourde épreuve. En vertu du mandat que le peuple m'a donné et de la légitimité nationale que j'incarne depuis vingt ans (sic), je demande à tous et à toutes de me soutenir quoi qu'il arrive".
  44. ^ French: "Cette Armée doit être fanatique, méprisant le luxe, animée de l'esprit des croisés".
  45. ^ French Army audio archives
  46. ^ Manifeste des 121, transl. in English
  47. ^ De Groot, Gerard, Peniston-Bird, Corinna. A Soldier and a Woman: Sexual Integration in the Military. New York: Longman, 2000 p. 247
  48. ^ a b Lazreg, Marnia. The Eloquence of Silence. London: Routledge, 1994 p. 120
  49. ^ Turshen, Meredith. "Algerian Women in the Liberation Struggle and the Civil War: From Active Participants to Passive Victims". Social Research Vol. 69 No. 3 (Fall 2002) p. 889-911, p.890
  50. ^ De Groot, Gerard, Peniston-Bird, Corinna. A Soldier and a Woman: Sexual Integration in the Military. New York: Longman, 2000 p. 223
  51. ^ Vince, Natalya "Transgressing Boundaries: Gender, Race, Religion and 'Fracaises Musulmannes during Algerian War of Independence." French Historical Studies. Vol. 33 No. 3 (Summer 2010) pp. 445–474, p.445
  52. ^ "Référendum sur l'autodétermination en Algérie". Université Perpignan. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  53. ^ "Proclamation des résultats du référendum d'autodétermination du 1er juillet 1962" (PDF). Journal Officiel de l'État Algérien. 6 July 1962. Retrieved 2009-04-08. Total d'inscrits dans les 15 départements : 6.549.736 — Votants : 6.017.800 — Blancs ou nul : 25.565 — Suffrages exprimés : 5.992.115 — OUI : 5.975.581 — NON : 16.534 
  54. ^ Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954–1962.
  56. ^ Philippe Denoix, "Harkis" in Encyclopædia Universalis, 2010
  57. ^ General Maurice Faivre, Les combattants musulmans de la guerre d'Algérie: des soldats sacrifiés, Editions L'Harmattan, 1995, p.124
  58. ^ Horne, Alistair. A Savage War of Peace. p. 537.  
  59. ^ "Chirac hails Algerians who fought for France", The Telegraph 26 September 2001
  60. ^ a b c Horne, Alistair. A Savage War of Peace. p. 538.  
  61. ^ Windrow, Martin. The Algerian War 1954-62. p. 13.  
  62. ^ Mohamed Harbi, La guerre d'Algérie
  63. ^ Benjamin Stora, La torture pendant la guerre d'Algérie
  64. ^ Raphaëlle Branche, La torture et l'armée pendant la guerre d'Algérie, 1954–1962, Paris, Gallimard, 2001 See also The French Army and Torture During the Algerian War (1954–1962), Raphaëlle Branche, Université de Rennes, 18 November 2004 (English)
  65. ^ David Huf, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: France and Algeria, 1954–1962
  66. ^ L'accablante confession du général Aussaresses sur la torture en Algérie, Le Monde, May 3, 2001 (French)
  67. ^ GUERRE D'ALGÉRIE: le général Bigeard et la pratique de la torture, Le Monde, July 4, 2000 (French)
  68. ^ Torture Bigeard: " La presse en parle trop ", L'Humanité, May 12, 2000 (French)
  69. ^ La torture pendant la guerre d'Algérie / 1954 – 1962 40 ans après, l'exigence de vérité, AIDH
  70. ^ GUERRE D'ALGÉRIE: Mgr Joseph Doré et Marc Lienhard réagissent aux déclarations du général Bigeard justifiant la pratique de la torture par l'armée française, Le Monde, July 15, 2000 (French)
  71. ^ "Le témoignage de cette femme est un tissu de mensonges. Tout est faux, c'est une manoeuvre", Le Monde, June 22, 2000 (French)
  72. ^ Prise de tête Marcel Bigeard, un soldat propre ?, L'Humanité, June 24, 2000 (French)
  73. ^ Alistair Horne, pages 134–135 A Savage War of Peace, ISBN 0-67061964-7
  74. ^ Alistair Horne, page 135, A Savage War of Peace, ISBN 0-67061964-7
  75. ^ a b c Colonialism Through the School Books – The hidden history of the Algerian war, Le Monde diplomatique, April 2001 (English)/(French)
  76. ^ a b c Bringing down the barriers – people's memories of the Algerian War, interview with Benjamin Stora published on the INA archive Web site (English)
  77. ^ Terminale history class: teaching about torture during the Algerian war, McCormack J. in Modern & Contemporary France review, Volume 12, Number 1, February 2004, pp. 75–86(12) (English)
  78. ^ Le Gone du Chaâba (French)
  79. ^ Rapport préliminaire de la commission prévention du groupe d'études parlementaire sur la sécurité intérieure – Sur la prévention de la délinquance, presided by MP Jacques-Alain Bénisti, October 2004 (French)
  80. ^ Analyse de la version finale du rapport Benisti, Ligue des droits de l'homme (LDH, Human Rights League), and Final version of the Bénisti report given to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy (French)
  81. ^ The French Army and Torture during the Algerian War (1954–1962), Raphaëlle Branche, Université de Rennes, 18 November 2004 (English)
  82. ^ a b TORTURE IN ALGERIA: PAST ACTS THAT HAUNT FRANCE – False memory, Le Monde diplomatique, June 2001 (English)/(French)
  • Original text: Library of Congress Country Study of Algeria

External links

  • "TIME Collection French-Algerian War." Time.
  • Algerian War Reading
  • Algerian Independence Archive at
  • (French) Photos of the Algerian War of Independence (ECPAD)
  • Algerian National Liberation
  • by David GalulaPacification in Algeria: 1956–1958
  • Audiovisual National Institute's declassified Algeria War archives (hundreds of free video: news rushes, interviews, official speeches, retrospectives, etc.)
  • Algerian War Retrospective
  • The African Activist Archive Project website has material related to Algeria including a 1960 photograph of Mary-Louise Hooper with the FLN underground. Go to Browse and under Africa Coverage choose Algeria.
  • The short film French President Charles De Gaulle and the Six-Year War (1960) is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  • Algeria celebrates 50 years of independence - France keeps mum RFI English
  • Franco-German Intelligence Cooperation and the Internationalization of Algeria's War of Independence (1954–62)
  • Interview with Josie Fanon (Fanon's widow) in New York, November 1978 (in French and English)
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