French people

France lifts the veil on secret archives detailing the bloody war in Algeria

PARIS, December 10 (Reuters) – France announced on Friday that it would soon open to the public the most confidential parts of its national archives on the Algerian war of independence, highlighting some of the darkest chapters in history of France in the 20th century.

Between 1954 and 1962, France waged a war against an independence movement in its then colony. Hundreds of thousands of Algerians have been killed and French forces and their proxies have used torture against opponents, historians say.

“We must have the courage to face the historical truth,” French Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot said when she announced the opening of the archives.

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The fighting in Algeria shocked France and sparked a failed coup attempt against then-president Charles de Gaulle to prevent him from ending French rule. Almost 60 years after its end, the conflict remains a very sensitive and controversial subject in France.

The declassification of the archives is an important step towards a better understanding of the war, according to Benjamin Stora, a prominent French historian of Algeria.

“You can find out which people were under surveillance, followed, arrested,” Stora told Reuters. “It is the whole chain leading to repressive measures that can be exposed.”

He added that the archives could make sense of some of the deaths that remain unexplained to this day.

Algeria lived under French rule for 132 years until it won the War of Independence in 1962.

The announcement came two days after a trip to Algiers by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. He met with Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune with a view to restarting dialogue between the two parties, after relations deteriorated sharply. Read more

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Report by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Jon Boyle

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