Table of Contents
The conquest of Algeria
• In 1830, France took over Algeria. Algerians were killed, raped, and tortured during this attack, which was very violent. In fact, when the French took over Algeria in the 1800s, almost a third of the Algerian people died as a result. • In 1848, Algeria became a department of France. The departments and areas of France that are not on the main part of the country are called “overseas.” In theory, departments outside of France have the same standing as regions and departments in France. In reality, though, many overseas departments are treated like colonies with very few rights. • Algeria was a part of the French mainland and was to France what India was to the British empire. Its colonisation was very helpful and good for France’s economy.
• After the French took over Algeria, more than a million Europeans moved there, making up 10% of the population. People started calling them “the pied-noirs” or “the colons.” Many of these Europeans, who were from France, Spain, Italy, and Malta, came from working-class families but had a higher status than Algerians who were born there. Because Algerians and pied-noirs came from different social and economic backgrounds, there was a sense of distrust between the two groups.
In the 1920s, some Algerian thinkers started to spread the idea that Algeria should be independent or, at the very least, be able to run itself. But the Algerians thought that self-determination was something that only white people in Europe could have. The pied-noirs also didn’t want Algerian natives to take part in democratic life, because they didn’t want the people they had defeated to live with them on equal terms.
On May 8, 1945, France marked the end of the Second World War. At the same time, Algerians hoped that they would also be freed. But this didn’t happen, so Algerians who were born there held a protest in the Algerian city of Sétif to demand freedom.
The protests turned into a massacre when protesters killed more than 100 pied-noirs and French soldiers killed up to 30,000 Algerian natives in retaliation. Algerians were shocked by the Sétif massacre, which made the liberal independence movement more extreme. Soon, a new group of Algerian leaders for freedom grew up.
Things that happened during the Algerian Civil War: • On November 1, 1954, the FLN started a violent uprising across Algeria to demand independence. As a result, the French sent troops to keep an eye on the situation. The Algerian War started with this event.
• August 1955. More than 120 people were killed in Philippeville when the FLN attacked citizens. In response to what the FLN did, French soldiers and pied-noir militia groups killed about 12,000 Algerians.
• September 30, 1956: The Battle of Algiers. As a way to bring more attention to this war, the FLN started to attack cities, which was different from what they usually did. The Battle of Algiers started when three women who were working with the FLN put bombs in public places. The fighting broke out in the city of Algiers.
The Algerian War’s most important event was the Battle of Algiers. The events of the Battle of Algiers led people to dislike the French rule over Algeria. This was because of how the French army reacted to the FLN attack. The French army tried to stop the violence “by any means necessary,” which meant that torture was used. This strategy did not go over well with people who were watching the war, and France lost the backing of its allies.
• May 1958. After the French government failed to stop the revolution, pied-noirs stormed the office of the governor-general in Algiers. They wanted Charles de Gaulle to be the new president of France, and French army officers agreed with them.
The French National Assembly agreed with this plan, and Charles De Gaulle became France’s leader. Both the pied-noirs and the Algerians who were born and raised there liked this.
• September 1959. De Gaulle says that Algeria’s freedom is important because he is becoming more and more sure that France can’t rule Algeria. The pied-noirs are shocked and scared by this news.
• April 1961. Some of the most powerful generals in the French army tried to get rid of de Gaulle in Algeria because they wanted to keep French Algeria.
• March 1962. After talks in Evian, the French government called for an end to the war.
• March–June 1962. In answer to what was seen as France giving up in Algeria, the OAS attacked civilians with terrorist acts. Even so, the OAS and the FLN were able to stop fighting in the end.
• 1 July 1962. Algeria held a vote on the Evian Agreements, which called for Algeria to become independent. There were six million votes. A huge 99.72% of people backed freedom.
Algerian War Torture
• In 2018, France said for the first time that it had used torture during the Algerian War. This came after France had denied it for decades. Some of the ways these people were tortured were by being hung, waterboarded, or raped. Torture is so common in colonial governments that it is seen as an essential part of colonialism.
During the Algerian War, a book was written by Henri Alleg, an Algerian Jew who had been tortured by French troops. This memoir called The Question was banned in France, but that only made it more famous. At the time, it was one of the most-read books in France. The book talked about how French soldiers drugged, beat, and burned Alleg during the war. It also talked about the torture that many Algerians had to go through.
• Not only did French troops often use physical torture, but they also often used psychological torture. Psychologist and anti-colonial thinker Frantz Fanon saw a lot of this during his time in Algeria, and it was one of the reasons he joined the FLN.
• Because violence and torture were so common in the Algerian war, it is considered one of the bloodiest battles of the postcolonial era.
Effects of the Algerian War
• The Algerian War gave people who lived under colonial rule a message of hope. Even today, it is still seen as one of the most important wars of the post-colonial era. After the war, many pied-noirs moved to France because they were afraid the FLN would hurt them. This made a large group of people in France feel disconnected from both Algeria and France, and they still miss their homes in Algeria. Also, because France ruled Algeria and then went to war with Algeria, the two countries still don’t trust each other. In the last few years, France has also been more open about the tactics they used in the Algerian War. They have also taken responsibility for the death of a missing FLN soldier, which they had denied for decades.
Algerians still remember the terrible things that happened during the Algerian War. This has had a big effect on how they treat France.
Algerian War – Key takeaways
• The Algerian War started when the National Liberation Front (FLN) started fighting in 1954. It finished when Algeria became a free and independent country in 1962.
• In 1830, France took over Algeria. Algerians were killed, raped, and tortured during this invasion, which was the most important part of the Algerian War.