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Contrasting memories

· How the Algerian War is remembered in France ·

How do the French remember the Algerian War that lasted from 1954 to 1962 and involved in all a total of 2.5 million French soldiers, of whom 1.2 million were enlisted, with a toll of 26,000 dead French soldiers and perhaps ten times as many Algerians? The way the French remember the Algerian War, and not the war itself, is the topic of the fine book Soldati senza causa. Memorie della guerra d'Algeria (Laterza 2012, pp. 308, € 28) by Andrea Brazzoduro, a young Italian historian who has researched many French and Algerian archives, in addition to interviewing dozens of war veterans, many of whom speak here for the first time of their experiences in those years.

The fundamental thesis of the book is that this memory may be modelled essentially on that of the Shoah; and that it was created by interweaving memories of the Algerian War and of the Shoah with the collaborationism of Vichy which has left wounds gaping, a connection that is close and explicit.




St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 21, 2019