Thursday, January 08, 2015

Quick note on the Charlie Hebdo attack and French history and massacres

So many news reports about the Charlie Hebdo attack say it's the worst terrorist attack in France in 50 years. They (at least the ones in English) never tell you exactly what they're referring to. It would seem to be an act of the far-right Organisation de l'armée secrète which was fighting to preserve the French colony in Algerial. In June 1961 the OAS bombed a fast train at Vitry-Le-François, resulting in 28 dead and 100+ injured. I would have guessed, however, that the worst violence in France over the last 50 years was the October 1961 Paris police massacre of as many as 200 French Algerians who were peaceably demonstrating against curfews and in support of the FLN. Some deaths resulted when police tossed men they had beaten unconscious into the Seine. Funny, you don't see either of these horrific events (acts of first, the extreme right, and second, the cops) being discussed. Ah, historical consciousness.

 October 1961

An excellent source on the events of October 1961 is: Jim House and Neil MacMaster. 2006. Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror, and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Excellent films on the October 1961 events include: Octobre à Paris, Le silence du fleuve, and Dissimulation d'un massacre.


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