The Algerian War, the French State and Official Memory

TitleThe Algerian War, the French State and Official Memory
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsCohen, William B.
JournalHistorical Reflections
Start Page219

In his provocative article, historian William Cohen argues that France refused to recognize the Algerian War for Independence until 1999. France did not want to recognize this conflict as a war but rather as a police action. This desire to forget one of the first massive anti-colonial efforts across the world could be seen throughout all aspects of French culture, from the lack of public monuments or ceremonies honoring the war, to the lower status given to those veterans from the conflict, even though 25,000 French soldiers died in the conflict and 60,000 were wounded. The author also argues that the story of the Algerian war concerns, among other things, the gap between the State and the public. Even though the political class (including the Communist Party, at least at the beginning of the war) unanimously favored preserving French Algeria, maintenance of that and the rest of the French empire was  and believed the public would not abide any other solution, public opinion was usually greeted by public indifference.

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