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  1. Martin Rohmann A Fixture

    Country:
    Germany
    The army is putting a coup against de Gaulle ...!


    The French have occupied Algeria since 1830 ...

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    ... Algeria has been an integral part of the French state as a department since 1870. However, no Algerian gets French citizenship!

    Since the Second World War, however, the national consciousness of the Algerians has risen considerably, with ever louder voices calling for the country to be completely separated from France and for independence.

    The FLN liberation movement begins with the armed struggle against the French ...

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    ... who for their part react with military means and tremendous brutality to what, from their point of view, is a "rebelion" ...:

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    Various attempts by the French government to resolve the conflict politically fail because of the incompatibility of the positions:

    At best, France is ready to talk about limited self-government, the Algerians insist on independence.

    At the latest after the defeat of the French in Dien Bien Phu in northern Vietnam, which led to the complete withdrawal of the colonial rulers from Indochina (1954), the Algerians realized that a liberation movement could win a war against a highly armed military power!

    In January 1957, the French send their best man (as they think), Paratrooper General Jacques Massu ...

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    ... who already distinguished himself in World War II and in Indochina!

    Massu introduces himself by fighting and winning the "Battle of Algiers" in 1957: With unbelievable effort and the most brutal means (including mass torture) he defeated with his paras ...

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    ... the FLN in the densely built-up and inaccessible Kasbah (old town) of Algiers and pulls all FLN leaders out of traffic who either perish or go to prison.

    In all of Algeria, Massu succeeds in at least achieving a military stalemate by having the borders closely monitored (so the FLN no longer receives supplies) and covering the country with fortress-like bases ...:

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    But none of this resolves the conflict and it costs France a lot of blood - and money!

    In just two years, from 1955 to 1957, the Algerian war doubled the French national deficit: from 650 billion francs to 1.1 trillion francs!

    The consequences: massive devaluation and an economic crisis!

    It is already clear to the further-looking French that the matter will end, like in Indochina! In addition, many citizens are disgusted by the methods of their army in this conflict, which reminds too many of the time when the German occupiers ruled France with similar (the same!) Methods.

    In July 1957, the French government overthrew the cabinet of Prime Minister Guy Mollet ...

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    ... on the Algerian conflict, in the following months up to May 1958, three more governments come under three different prime ministers, who also come to an end after a short time - and overthrow!

    This is the end of the Third Republic!

    The army in Algeria, which does not want to give up the country and continues to rely on a military "victory" - supported by the approximately 450,000 French settlers, the so-called "pieds noirs" ("black feet") - has played a major role in the overthrow of the various governments !


    **continued next post**
    Nap likes this.
  2. Martin Rohmann A Fixture

    Country:
    Germany
    Part II


    But after a constitutional amendment that gives the President of the Republic more power, a new - stronger - President comes to power in 1958, a candidate that suits the military, because he is also a general ...

    Charles de Gaulle is back - and is elected to office with the strong support of the military!

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    And the general first does what "his" generals expected of him: he increases the troops in Algeria considerably (to 380,000 men) - and starts a highly successful offensive ...

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    ... under the newly appointed Commander in Chief General Maurice Challe ...

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    ... which causes the FLN horrific losses: The liberation movement loses 21,000 fighters within four months!

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    But what the generals do not suspect: de Gaulle only started the offensive in order to be able to negotiate with the Algerians afterwards from a position of strength.

    It is clear to the astute politician that Algeria cannot be held!

    While the offensive was still going on, de Gaulle announced a referendum across France (including Algeria) in a televised address ...

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    ... with three alternatives to choose from:

    - Complete self-government (i.e. ultimately: independence)
    - Full integration of Algeria into the French national association with citizenship for all residents
    - Limited independence in close political and economic ties with France

    The French parliament supports this proposal with an overwhelming majority - 441 votes to 21 - but the generals are furious!

    Everyone knows how the referendum will turn out!

    On May 13, 1958, the generals in Algiers put a coup against de Gaulle!

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    Under the leadership of General General Maurice Challe they set up a "Welfare Committee" (this designation is a deliberate allusion to the "committee" of the same name at the time of the French Revolution, which was the actual power center of the revolutionaries under Robespierre)...

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    ... and announce their takeover of power in Algeria and the Sahara. At the heart of the coup are Challe's paratroopers (Massu is also there!) - and many "pieds noirs" join them!

    But things don't get started the way the generals thought:

    Of the 380,000 soldiers in Algeria, a maximum of 25,000 follow them...:

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    The vast majority must therefore be locked up and guarded in their barracks!
    The coup did not find any supporters in France itself!

    In addition, the coup plotters are cut off from any supplies from France and cannot send airborne soldiers to Paris to arrest de Gaule (which was actually planned), because the air force units stationed in Algeria remain loyal to de Gaulle and all fly in a night and fog action planes stationed there.

    So the "Welfare Committee" can do nothing except write a few pathetic proclamations and erect a few barricades in Algiers ...:

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    On April 25, 1961 the adventure came to an end, the coup collapsed!

    The referendum on January 8, 1961 will support Algeria's independence by a large majority (75 percent in France and 70 percent in Algeria) and the country will be granted independence on July 1, 1962.

    One and a half million Algerians have been killed in the struggle for independence since 1946, including 154,000 fighters. France lost 24,000 dead and 64,000 wounded soldiers - 2,700 "pieds noirs" also died.

    The so-called "Harkis", Algerians who fought in the ranks of the French army against their countrymen, had the highest death rate ...

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    During their departure, the French evacuated only a few of them and even fewer of their family members, who were then allowed to vegetate in shabby barracks in France for many years "in gratitude" for their services ...:

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    The army left thousands of "Harkis" defenseless when Algeria gained independence. Almost all of them were killed - more than 70,000!

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    Today one is slowly beginning to remember them ...

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    Nap likes this.
  3. Nap A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    Hi Martin

    What a great thread showing the full horror of the situation , a bloodbath for all concerned and as dangerous as any situation could get with obvious results

    Cheers for the interesting read

    Nap
  4. Airkid PlanetFigure Supporter

    Country:
    England
    Excellent precis Martin. All still vivid in the memories of many French. I recommend Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace" as a really good and readable summation of the conflict.

    Phil
  5. gazer Active Member

    Country:
    Israel
    Very interesting as usual Martin.
    My late father-in-law, Gaston Yosef Hadjadj, was an a Jewish Algerian. He was a French citizen (all Algerian Jews were granted French citizenship following the 1870 Cremieux Decree).
    Cremieux_136.jpg
    He and his siblings left Algiers in the early 1960's. Most of them indeed moved to France (Marcseille), but he moved to Israel where he met my mother in law...

    As an anecdote, the name Cremieux gained notoriety in Israel: In The Cremieux Affair of 2009 there was a criminal investigation against Ehud Olmert, then the prime minister. He was suspected that during his time as mayor of Jerusalem he got a discount on an apartment on Cremieux street in Jerusalem, as a bribe for helping with building permits for the building which included this apartment. The charges were dropped, but he later went to jail for another corruption affair.

    Cheers,

    Benny

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