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The Algerian War of Independence 1954-1962

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Kevin View Drop Down
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    Posted: 30 Jul 2009 at 15:22
One conflict that I have been doing some reading on lately as part of a parallel project on guerilla warfare and insurgency that I started on a couple of days ago, is the Algerian War of Independence. Which lasted from 1954-1962, and was a incredably bid by the Islamic and Arab Algerian majority of the then French colony to gain their independence. Against the French and their colonial administration in Algeria as well as against certain segments of the French settler society in Algeria. The war however became a sprawal of widespread brutality and touture committed by certain elements within the French forces and revolutionary terror committed by the Arab Algerian insurgency. The war also continues to provide textbook examples on guerilla war and insurgency, and I hope to apply some examples of these in my paper which I am also currently researching along with the origins of war.

Overall though I'm finding The Algerian War of Independence very interesting to read and research so far!
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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2009 at 16:55
Hello Kevin
 
Sorry man but there is no comparison between what Algerians did to the French and what the French did to Algerians. At one point during the war, some 2 million Algerians out of a population of 8 million were in concentration camps. Even the Nazis weren't that brutal. The "peaceful" colons killed more Algerian civilians than the Algerians killed of civilian and military French personel. The Algerians killed some 5 or 6 thousand colons and about 20k French soldiers (50k Algerian harkis as well) while the OAS alone killed 10k in Algiers in their campaign of terror between 60 and 62.
 
But one thing is for sure, the resilience of the Algerian people was just beyond discription. Half a million Algerians died directly or indirectly in those years according to optimistic stats  (7% of the population).
 
A good read to start is Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace" although it is totally biased towards the French side it shows how brutal the French were during the war nd the tactics they used.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 03:20
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Hello Kevin
 

Sorry man but there is no comparison between what Algerians did to the French and what the French did to Algerians. At one point during the war, some 2 million Algerians out of a population of 8 million were in concentration camps. Even the Nazis weren't that brutal. The "peaceful" colons killed more Algerian civilians than the Algerians killed of civilian and military French personel. The Algerians killed some 5 or 6 thousand colons and about 20k French soldiers (50k Algerian harkis as well) while the OAS alone killed 10k in Algiers in their campaign of terror between 60 and 62.

 

But one thing is for sure, the resilience of the Algerian people was just beyond discription. Half a million Algerians died directly or indirectly in those years according to optimistic stats  (7% of the population).

 

A good read to start is Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace" although it is totally biased towards the French side it shows how brutal the French were during the war nd the tactics they used.

 

Al-Jassas


I'm actually reading Alistair Horne's book right now,

In terms of the violence and brutality of the Algerian War of Independence, I found both sides to be equally brutal. The French to begin with treated the native Algerian rather poorly in terms of society in Algeria, as well as the native Algerians being discriminated against in every aspect of liffe by the colonial administration and much of the pied-noir population. The French also overreacted to acts committed by the FLN, as well as applying collective responsibility to whole villages through destructive raids or air attack. As well as diplacing large numbers of native Algerians in camps to prevent collaboration with the FLN. Not to mention the already systematic torture and killings by some French forces in the theater. So the French were just as bad also in terms of action against the civilian population I realize that. The FLN committed acts of torture and killings against those who collaberated with the French among the native Algerian population, as well as engaging in attacks and acts of violence against the pied-noir population and colonial settlements. In addition later on the FLN began to engage in violence against those among the native Algerian population that refused to support them. Not to mention they also committed acts of extortion against the native Algerian population for food and supplies. After the war the Harkis and their families who remained were subjected to acts of brutality and violence by the FLN. The same could be aid for pied-noirs who decided to remain in Algeria after independence also.

So both sides were equally brutal if you take things into account.                           
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 03:55

Well here is the problem. Were the Pied-noir innocent?

Almost all the colons (those who lived in the countryside not the cities) were members of this militia or that. Even before the war they went to rampage as they wanted and nobody even asked why. There were many incidents before the war, during the war and even after the war when colons led lynching parties killing not only Algerians but even Frenchmen (particularly jews among them) because they stood up for Algerian rights. One such case was the massacre of Mouloud Feraoun and 20 other Algerian (and French I think) intellictuals in March 62.
 
 
70% of the tax burden was on the 90% muslim population who although theoritically were French citizens had no rights whatsoever unless they converted to Christianity (1865 and this continued even after France became "secular").
 
Anyway, returning to the war. I think an excellent read will be the Time magazine archives which are on the net. They have had several front page reports from there and especially in the height of the war (54-60) some excellent reporting. Also you can read about Algeria before the war too and there are some interesting reports there too.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 07:54
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Well here is the problem. Were the Pied-noir innocent?


Almost all the colons (those who lived in the countryside not the cities) were members of this militia or that. Even before the war they went to rampage as they wanted and nobody even asked why. There were many incidents before the war, during the war and even after the war when colons led lynching parties killing not only Algerians but even Frenchmen (particularly jews among them) because they stood up for Algerian rights. One such case was the massacre of Mouloud Feraoun and 20 other Algerian (and French I think) intellictuals in March 62.

 

 

70% of the tax burden was on the 90% muslim population who although theoritically were French citizens had no rights whatsoever unless they converted to Christianity (1865 and this continued even after France became "secular").

 

Anyway, returning to the war. I think an excellent read will be the Time magazine archives which are on the net. They have had several front page reports from there and especially in the height of the war (54-60) some excellent reporting. Also you can read about Algeria before the war too and there are some interesting reports there too.

 

Al-Jassas


Of course the pied-noirs weren't entirely guilt-free in terms of atrocities. Like any war of this kind most factions can't be called innocent.

Btw thank you Al Jassas for the recommendations about Time Magazine,

I will be sure to check them out!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Simon Forest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Mar 2011 at 07:25
If you wish to calculate the conflict simply by the number of casualties each side suffered then, of course, the Algerians come off worst, however, to my mind this is a simplistic and redundant method. I am firmly of the opinion that it is useless in any form of historical study to attempt to say anything about the morality of both sides, historians are there to say what happened, and why it happened; not to make moral judgements (except in a personal capacity). It is true that the treatment of Algerians was poor before the conflict and that the French, including the pieds-noir, committed many acts of brutality, including a systematic use of torture. However, there are numerous instances of brutality on the Algerians side, the slaughter of entire villages of women and children. I do not consider it right to state that simply because the FLN did not get the opportunity to cause the same scale of destruction as the French that it is somehow morally superior. It was a brutal conflict it which many lost their lives, quibling over who did what to whom is a bit pointless.
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