60 Years Ago, Algeria

60 years ago today the Algerian War of Independence started, a day referred to as “la Toussaint Rouge,” the “Red All Saints’ Day.” It would last until 1962 when Algeria finally gained independence. Here’s the headline of the Oran paper for that day:

0111toussaint

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Comment on “60 Years Ago, Algeria”

  1. As a colonial power, the French took a back seat to no one. The brutal and long Algerian War of Independence lasted nearly 8 years and was remarkable only for its unspeakable violence.
    The brutality and death toll left a bitter taste in the mouths of young and old alike, French or Algerian. Sadly, few people on this side of the pond even remember it. It is said that the war united Algerians as a people while simultaneously dampening France’s colonial appetites. Only time will truly tell. The aggressive tactics employed by the French army, however, are still a controversial topic in some quarters to this day.

    Estimates of Algerian War casualties, like those beheaded by the guillotine during the French Revolution, are vague and wide ranging. The French have a certain vagueness with numbers. From 350,000 to as many as 1,000,000 and perhaps more may have died during the Algerian war, the vast majority of them Algerians. Countless others were wounded, maimed or worse. Some 20% of the Muslim population became refugees or were forced to live in government camps.

    While it is difficult to enumerate the war’s casualties, the FLN (National Liberation Front) estimated the years of revolution resulted in 1,500,000 deaths from war-related causes. French military authorities listed their losses at nearly 25,600 dead and 65,000 wounded. European-descended civilian casualties exceeded 10,000 (including 3,000 dead). 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. In addition, large numbers of pro-French Muslims were murdered when the FLN settled accounts after independence. 30,000 to 150,000, including civilians, were killed or abducted and presumed killed in Algeria during post-war reprisals. More than 2,000,000 Algerians were forced to relocate in French camps or to flee into the Algerian hinterland. Many thousands died there of starvation, disease, and exposure. In 1962, 900,000 European-Algerians fled to France, in fear of the FLN’s revenge. The vast number of refugees caused turmoil in France.

    It remains one of the most brutal wars in history. It is well remembered as such and rightly so.

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