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The Algerian war V by Batty, Peter

Part V 'The suitcase or the coffin'
The final episode in the Algerian War documentary series deals with the final two years before Algerian independence, a turbulent time in the country's history. While the French government negotiated with the FLN in Evian, the Organisation de l'Armee Secrète (OAS) committed attacks in both Algeria and France, with the aim of hindering the decolonization process. Within a period of six month's, the OAS committed four times as many deadly attacks as the FLN in six years. Despite these efforts, Algerian independence was eventually achieved, and the Pieds-Noirs had no choice but to flee to France, leaving everything behind.

About the series
This five-episode series provides a detailed analysis of the Algerian War. Archive images, black-and-white and some in color, complement the chronological account of the war and the decolonization process in Algeria. Prominent figures on Algerian and French side of this complex conflict discuss their experiences and actions. As the series progresses, the mood becomes increasingly dark and the conflict between both sides, as well as between different French factions, becomes more and more intense.

The series is composed of archival film material that was recorded during the war and featured in news reports at the time. Censorship under French rule meant that not everything could be filmed or written, and it should be kept in mind that the task of journalists was particularly difficult for that reason. The authorities arrested and interrogated journalists whose work was viewed as 'too critical', implementing the same interrogation techniques that were used on captured rebels. Journalist Henri Alleg recounts his ordeal in the second episode. Fortunately, the documentary makers were able to gather sufficient material to tell the different sides of the story.

The Algerian War began just nine years after the end of WWII. Though the consensus in Europe in 1945 was that the horrors of the war should never be allowed to take place again. Theorists such as French-Martinican Frantz Fanon and French-Tunisian Albert Memmi draw parallels between Nazism and the decolonization struggle. In their view, Algerians were treated the same way minorities had been during the German Occupation. France, a country that suffered immensely under the Nazis, was enforcing the same policies just one decade later.

More information
Philosopher, psychiatrist and author Frantz Fanon, originally from Martinique, was closely involved in the events of the Algerian War. After living in France for his studies, he was stationed as a psychiatrist in an Algerian hospital. After the outbreak of the Algerian War in 1954, he joined the FLN and broke with his French background entirely. In his book "The Wretched of the Earth' he discusses the effects on Algerian people, caused by the war and the French torture methods. Besides this, he analyses in depth the process of decolonization. Unfortunately, after its publication in 1961 Fanon died of leukaemia.

Batty, Peter
Copyright Holder
Peter Batty
47 min.
Year of release
English, French

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