Plaque affixed to the war memorial for all wars in Montpellier. (Hérault 34). Source: © ONACVG de l'Hérault
Memory of the Harkis
and other supplementary units in France
Plaques to commemorate the "Harkis"
The supplementary soldiers who fought alongside the French army during the war of Algeria, remembered in collective memory by the name "Harkis", felt for a long time that their history was not acknowledged as an integral part of national history.
To meet the demand for official recognition put forward by these veteran supplementary soldiers, deputies and senators unanimously voted in the bill of 11th June 1994.
This same spirit was the motivation, in 2001, for a government decision, taken after a meeting of the High Council for the Memory of Soldiers and in respect of the wishes of the President of the Republic, to pay special homage to these veterans in the form of a national day of commemoration, set at 25th September 2001.
To implement this decision, a monitoring committee comprising qualified personalities, representatives of the veteran Harkis and representatives of the ministry of defence, was set up. After meeting several times, chaired by the Secretary of State for defence responsible for veterans, it proposed to affix, on 25th September, commemorative plaques on a number of symbolic sites.
To make this choice, three criteria were considered :
- direct link with the memory of the veteran supplementary soldiers: site of a former regroupment camp or forest hamlet (e.g.: Mouans-Sartoux in the Alpes-Maritimes) or the existence of a monument dedicated specifically to the Harkis (e.g.: monument in Valence, in the Drôme);
- more general link with Algeria: presence of a war monument repatriated from Algeria and re-installed in a French commune (e.g.: monument of Philippeville in Toulouse), evoking the memory of the Harkis.
- significant importance (over 4,000 people) in a département of a population originating from families of veteran supplementary solders (e.g.: Lille).
In addition, as the commemoration has a national character, the site of the Invalides in Paris was chosen to symbolise the link between the army and the Nation.
The text of the plaque was chosen by agreement between the administration and the working group. It constitutes article 1 of the act of 11th June 1994, which bears witness to the French Republic's gratitude:
The French Republic
expresses its gratitude
to repatriated veteran
or victims of captivity in Algeria
for the sacrifices made
(Act of 11th June 1994, article 1)
In 2002, the High Council for the Memory of Soldiers decided to reproduce the homage paid to veteran supplementary soldiers and then suggested to make this day permanent by including it on the calendar along with other official commemorative days.
Thus, the official text instituting the 25th September as a "National day of homage to Harkis and other members of supplementary units", was signed on 31st March 2003 and published in the Journal Officiel on 2nd April 2003.
Sources : MINDEF/SGA/DMPA/ONACVG