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The Romanian military cemetery in Soultzmatt

Le cimetière militaire roumain de Soultzmatt. © ECPAD

 

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Situated in the Val du Pâtre, Soultzmatt military cemetery is the largest Romanian necropolis in France. This emblematic Romanian heritage site contains the remains of 678 soldiers who died in captivity between 1914 and 1918, most of them due to ill-treatment, malnutrition and exhaustion. In 1916-17, these prisoners of the German army were used to build roads and shelters in various locations. In 1920, the village of Soultzmatt, spared by the war, donated the land needed to bring together these soldiers, dispersed around more than thirty-five Alsatian towns and villages, to Romania. In 1927, King Ferdinand and Queen Mary of Romania attended the inauguration of the cemetery, marking the traditional friendship between France and Romania.

Three marble plaques bear inscriptions dedicated to the sacrifice of the Romanian prisoners: the first one referring to the agony suffered by all the prisoners, who died of “hunger, destitution and torture”, the second one to the tremendous work done by the Romanian monuments committee in Alsace, tasked in 1919 with bringing together the graves dispersed throughout the towns and villages of Alsace, and the third one bearing Queen Mary’s inscription honouring the memory of those who “far from your country for which you sacrificed yourselves, rest in glory”.

Today, the bodies of three thousand Romanians still rest in several national necropolises such as Strasbourg-Cronenbourg (Bas-Rhin), Effry (Aisne), Hirson (Aisne) and Dieuze (Moselle).

 

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Morvan Resistance Museum

In the heart of Burgundy, the “Resistance in Morvan - Paths of Remembrance” project has enhanced 29 Second World War remembrance sites across the Morvan area.

Le mémorial des martyrs de la Déportation

Unveiled 60 years ago, on 12 April 1962, the Memorial to the Martyrs of Deportation was the initiative of the Réseau du Souvenir.

© Mémorial des martyrs de la Déportation _ Matthieu Pellerin

© Mémorial des martyrs de la Déportation _ Matthieu Pellerin

The Bernagousse national cemetery in Barisis-aux-Bois

La nécropole nationale de Bernagousse. © ECPAD

 

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The Bernagousse national cemetery brings together the bodies of 12 soldiers from the 215th infantry regiment, including an unknown soldier, in an ossuary monument erected after the Great War.

Apart from soldier Louis Darbas, they all died on 12 March 1918 during the explosion of an ammunition depot at the Bernagousse quarry. Among the others, Jean-Baptiste Monnery and Jean Cros were stretcher bearers at the infirmary set up nearby, some remains of which still exist today, with the inscription "Infirmerie Bonnery - Chavart; 215 RI (infantry regiment) who died for France".

 

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The Zuydcoote national cemetery

La nécropole nationale de Zuydcoote. © ECPAD

 

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Created in 1921 close to former campaign medical units, the Zuydcoote national cemetery initially brought together soldiers who had succumbed to their injuries in various Dunkirk hospitals in 1914-1918, then from 1953 onwards they were joined by the bodies of soldiers who had died for France in 1940 during Operation Dynamo.

Today, this national cemetery holds the bodies of 2 053 French soldiers, 2 037 of whom lie in individual graves. A collective grave brings together the remains of 16 soldiers. Alongside them lies one Russian, but also 201 Germans, including 31 in an ossuary. This cemetery comprises three plots: the 1914-1918 French plot, the 1914-1918 French Muslim plot, and the 1939-1945 French plot that contains 917 soldiers and resistance fighters from the Nord region and 14 Spaniards posted to workers' companies. A British military cemetery bringing together 177 bodies adjoins the Zuydcoote cemetery.

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Three pillars overlooking the Seine

Memorial to the Algerian War and the fighting in Morocco and Tunisia

Officially unveiled in 2002 by the French President, the Memorial to the Algerian War and the fighting in Morocco and Tunisia pays tribute to the men and women, members of the auxiliary formations, conscripts or volunteers, who lost their lives, and also to the civilian victims who died or disappeared in those conflicts between 1954 and 1962. Three pillars with rolling digital displays in the colours of the French flag present the names of the servicemen and civilians who lost their lives.

Fillières French national war cemetery

La nécropole nationale de Fillières. © ECPAD

 

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The national war cemetery of Fillières contains the remains of solders who died for France during the Battle of the Frontiers. Established from 1919 to 1924, it bears witness to the extreme violence of the fighting of 22 August 1914 which took place in Lorraine, to stem the advance of German troops. In 1924, bodies were exhumed from temporary military cemeteries such as that of Ville-au-Montois or Mercy-le-Haut, and brought to Fillières. Today, this national war cemetery contains the bodies of 689 French soldiers, 230 of which are in individual graves. The remains of 459 servicemen were placed in two ossuaries. Within the enclosure of the national cemetery, a monument was erected to commemorate the dead of the commune and is dedicated to soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Frontiers.

 

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Florent-en-Argonne French national war cemetery

La nécropole nationale de Florent-en-Argonne. © ECPAD

 

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Located north-east of Sainte-Menehould, the French national war cemetery of Florent-en-Argonne contains the bodies of soldiers gathered from temporary cemeteries or isolated graves in the region of Claon and Hauts Bâtis. Created in 1914, this national war cemetery brings together the remains of 2,061 soldiers killed during fighting in Argonne.

A monument was erected in 1916 in honour of the commitment and sacrifice of these men.

In August 1915, after having lost contact with his unit, the soldier Victor Schmitt was picked up by the 147th Infantry Regiment (RI). Tried and convicted for abandonment of his post in the face of the enemy, he was executed by firing squad as an example, in Florent-en-Argonne at the age of 34.

Within the national war cemetery rest the remains of Louis-François Lepenant. A native of La Mancha, he served with the 25th Infantry Regiment, with whom he fought at the Battle of the Marne, then in Artois. In July 2015, during a violent bombardment, he lost his nerve and left the front line. Considered a deserter, he rejoined his regiment where he had to stand trial.  Following a special council of war, he was executed by firing squad at Moiremont. His body lies in grave 1758.

In the communal cemetery of Florent-en-Argonne are the bodies of three men shot as an example, the soldiers Séverin Maurice who died on 24 October 1914, Benoît Louis who died on 4 October 1915 and whose name is inscribed on the Salviac (46) memorial, and Marcel Painsant who died on 21 December 1915.

 

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51800 Florent-en-Argonne
À la sortie du village en direction de Le Claon, sur le bord de la D 84

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Algeria’s wounded soldiers

A wounded soldier on a stretcher.

"Souain-Perthes-Les-Hurlus" National Cemetery

La nécropole nationale de Souain-Perthes-Lès-Hurlus _ Cimetière de la Légion Etrangère. © ECPAD

 

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Souain National Cemetery - the French Foreign Legion Cemetery contains an ossuary holding the remains of 128 soldiers who died for France during the offensive that started on 25 September 1915.

Established in 1920, the ossuary-monument was built on the initiative of Mr Farnsworth, an American citizen, for the burial of his son. Having joined as a volunteer in the First Foreign Legion Regiment, he was killed, at the age of 24, on 28 September 1915. His body was buried in two mass graves (mass graves 234 – 235 in Forest U).

Thanks to the commitment and determination of many people, this monument, built of stone from the same quarry as that used to build the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, was erected in just six months and brought here by river and then transported along two completely ruined highways. On 3 November 1920, attended by Mr and Mrs Farnsworth, the ossuary-monument, designed by architect Alexandre Marcel, was consecrated by the Bishop of Chalons, Monsignor Tissier. Two black marble plaques commemorate the sacrifice made by the Legionnaires who enlisted to defend Republican values.

 

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The execution of 21 February 1944 at the fort of Mont Valérien

On 21 February 1944, almost 78 years ago to the day, 25 members of the Resistance were executed by firing squad at Mont Valérien, in a small clearing inside the fort.

1962: the end of the war in Algeria

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1962: the end of the war in Algeria

Contents

    Summary

    DATE: 18 March 1962

    PLACE: Évian-les-Bains

    OBJECT: Signing of an agreement for a ceasefire in Algeria, which also set out the terms for the transition of sovereignty from France to Algeria and included clauses laying out the broad outline of future cooperation between the two countries.

    REPRESENTATIVES: The Government of the French Republic and the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA).

    On 18 March 1962, in Évian-les-Bains, the French Government and its Algerian counterparts signed an agreement that paved the way for Algerian independence, heralding the end of 132 years of colonisation and a war that had begun in 1954. It did not lead to the immediate cessation of violence and clashes, however.

    Why should the Algerian War not be remembered on the anniversary of the Évian ceasefire, on 19 March 1962? This is a question that has divided French veterans’ organisations since 19 March 1963. According to the National Federation of Veterans in Algeria and the Republican Association of Veterans, wars are remembered on the date of the ceasefire agreement that brings them to an end, as in the case of the two World Wars, remembered on 11 November (1918) and 8 May (1945). According to other organisations, however, 19 March should not be commemorated, because it did not put an end to the Algerian War but ushered in its worst period.

    What was the content of the Évian Accords, signed on 18 March 1962 by representatives of the French Government and the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA), and how were they enforced on the ground by each side?

    Putting an end to the war

    The Évian Accords were the result of a long process of negotiations, initiated following the referendum of 8 January 1961, which mandated the French Government to prepare the self-determination of Algeria by creating an embryonic Algerian State. Negotiations with the GPRA lasted nearly 15 months. They were delayed by the “generals’ putsch” of 22 April 1961 in Algiers, then opened publicly in Évian on 20 May 1961, and were twice suspended, first by France in June, then by the GPRA in July. After several months of great uncertainty, the negotiation process was secretly resumed in November 1961, leading to preliminary agreements signed on 18 February 1961 in a chalet in Les Rousses, then renegotiated at Évian on 7 to 18 March 1962. During that time, French opponents to negotiations with the FLN (National Liberation Front) founded the OAS (Secret Army Organisation), the only organised force trying to prevent the agreements from being implemented by force.

    The Évian Accords were, in the words of one of their French signatories, Robert Buron, “a very strange document”. Indeed, they comprised not only a ceasefire agreement between two armies, but also a procedure for the transition from French to Algerian sovereignty over a period of three to six months, as well as clauses setting out the broad outline of future cooperation between the two countries for the coming years. The Accords thus consisted of a number of documents: a bilateral ceasefire agreement, together with “government declarations concerning Algeria”, which were drawn up by common accord but published separately by the two parties.

     

    Une Humanité

    Announcement of the ceasefire in Algeria, front page of L’Humanité, 19 March 1962. . © Bianchetti/Leemage/Leemage via AFP

     

    The general declaration summed up the key aspects of the agreements. It set out the structure of government during the transition period (coexistence of a French high commissioner, with ultimate responsibility for maintaining law and order, and a majority-Muslim, provisional Algerian executive) and the guarantees of the referendum on self-determination which would ratify the Accords and create the Algerian State within a period of three to six months. It proclaimed the full sovereignty of the future State, guaranteed the freedom and security of its population (particularly the Algerian French), and set out the principles of cooperation between the two States, the resolution of military issues and the settlement of disputes. The statement of guarantees promised total impunity to all inhabitants for acts committed prior to the ceasefire and views expressed prior to the vote on self-determination, as well as total freedom of movement between the two countries. It granted the Algerian French the right to exercise their Algerian civic rights (with representation proportional to their number) for three years before choosing their permanent nationality, and guaranteed respect for their civil rights, religion, language and property, as well as those of other French nationals with foreign status. A statement of principle established economic and financial cooperation on a contractual basis of reciprocal interests. Other declarations set out the principles of cooperation for the exploration of mineral resources in the Sahara, respecting acquired rights, by means of a Franco-Algerian technical body; cultural cooperation aimed at developing education, vocational training and scientific research, and cultural exchanges; and technical cooperation, involving French officials being sent to Algeria and Algerian trainees sent to France. A declaration on military matters determined the reduction of French forces to 80 000 men one year after self-determination, and their complete evacuation two years later, with the exception of the Mers-el-Kebir and Bou Sfer naval and air bases, which were granted concessions for 15 years, the Saharan rocket and atomic-bomb testing sites for five years, and stop-over rights at some airfields for five years. A final declaration provided for the settlement of disputes by conciliation, arbitration or appeal to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

    A chaotic implementation

    On 19 March, France implemented the clauses of the Accords relating to the transition from French Algeria to Algerian Algeria, under French sovereignty embodied by High Commissioner Christian Fouchet, but in collaboration with a provisional Franco-Algerian executive appointed by common accord and presided over by former elected representative and FLN member Abderrahmane Farès. To begin with, France had to break by force the opposition of the OAS, which refused to recognise the Évian Accords in the name of the Algerian French and had sought to make them unenforceable by rejecting the ceasefire since the publication of the Les Rousses agreement. In its two strongholds, Algiers and Oran, the OAS increased its terrorist activity against the FLN, against the population of Algerian Muslims living under its authority, and against French security forces, who refused to side with it.

     

    manifestants européens

    DesEuropean protesters opposed to Algerian independence march along Rue d’Isly, in Algiers, on 26 March 1962;
    dozens were killed in the demonstration. 
    © AFP

     

    The announcement of the ceasefire was set to unleash a decisive show of force, culminating in the brutal combing of the Bab-el-Oued neighbourhood by the French Army on 23 March, and the deaths of nearly 70 people when Algerian French Army marksmen opened fire on the crowd of French protesters on Rue d’Isly on 26 March. This was followed by a failed attempt to establish a counter-insurgency unit in the Ouarsenis region, in late March-early April 1962. The multiple arrests of OAS leaders in Algiers (first Roger Degueldre, then General Salan, nominal head of the whole organisation, on 20 April) did not halt the escalation of violence, which only ended with direct negotiations between Jean-Jacques Susin, Abderrahmane Farés, chairman of the Provisional Executive, and Chawki Mostefai, leader of the FLN delegation in that executive, culminating in a ceasefire on 17 June 1962. Meanwhile, the OAS of Oran, far better organised despite the arrest of its leader, General Jouhaud, on 25 March, continued its armed insurgency against the FLN and the French forces commanded by General Katz until late June 1962.

    During this time, the FLN and its National Liberation Army (ALN) enforced the ceasefire in a very limited way. The number of French servicemen killed, wounded or abducted in Algeria after 19 March remained significant, as did the civilian victims of bombings and kidnappings. The ALN units which, according to Article 3 of the ceasefire agreement, were supposed to be “stabilised within the regions in which they currently operate(d)”, quickly moved out to extend their authority over the Algerian population, and the French Army, after attempting to oppose this by force, soon gave up.

    Then, a few days after the ratification of the Évian Accords in metropolitan France by the referendum of 8 April 1962, the investiture of the Provisional Executive at Rocher Noir on 13 April and Michel Debré’s replacement by Georges Pompidou as head of the French Government on 14 April, a series of kidnappings of French civilians in Algiers, Oran and the surrounding areas began on 17 April, in what historian Jean Monneret has described as “silent terrorism”. Presented by the head of the Autonomous Zone of Algiers, Si Azzedine, as a necessary response to the anti-Algerian terrorism of the OAS, the vast majority of these kidnappings did not affect armed “killers” with the means to defend themselves: if they were targeted, it was indirectly, by causing terror among the French civilian population sheltering them, leading to a mass exodus.

     

    habitants Oran

    Residents of the city of Oran watch as British Petroleum storage tanks burn following an attack by the OAS Delta commandos, 25 June 1962.  © STF/UPI/AFP

     

    Nearly two months after 19 March, on 14 May the Autonomous Zone of Algiers, commanded by Si Azzedine, overtly broke the Évian ceasefire with a series of terrorist attacks across the city of Algiers, together with the execution of all hostages previously taken. General de Gaulle was at last moved to act. The decisions of 23 May of the Committee for Algerian Affairs, signed by de Gaulle, state as follows: “The High Commissioner shall intervene to ensure that the Provisional Executive succeeds in putting a stop to the kidnappings and murders of Europeans currently taking place in Algiers. It shall fall to Mr Farès, in fact, to see to it that Si Azzedine ceases his activity in this area or is detained.” In reality, Si Azzedine got what he wanted: the installation of Algerian “Temporary Occasional Auxiliaries” (ATOs), chosen by the Autonomous Zone, in the European neighbourhoods of Algiers, and the expulsion of French police and service personnel who were hostile to his cause; the French Government, meanwhile, did not obtain the GPRA’s repudiation of the kidnappings.

    Paving the way for independence

    Seeing that the ceasefire was no longer being respected, on 15 May General de Gaulle decided to bring forward the date of the referendum on Algerian self-determination – which had been postponed due to the chaotic situation in the country – and thus the end of the transition period, to 1 July 1962, in order to force each party to take up their responsibilities as soon as possible. He obtained a positive result in Algiers, with the ceasefire agreement negotiated between the OAS and FLN, but not in Oran.

    Meanwhile, the security of “French Muslims” engaged on the French side was guaranteed in theory by the “general declaration” and the “statement of guarantees”, which stated: “No one may be subjected to police or justice measures, disciplinary sanctions or any form of discrimination as a result of: - views expressed at the time of the events that took place in Algeria prior to the self-determination vote; - acts committed at the time of those same events prior to the date of declaration of the ceasefire.” Yet on 19 March itself, a massacre of harkis took place in Saint-Denis-du-Sig (Oranie). Everywhere, promises of pardon or “redemption” to those who paid their demobilisation benefits to the ALN were followed by abductions, abuses and torture intended by their perpetrators to be exemplary. But a directive from wilaya (military region) V dated 10 April 1962, intercepted by the French Army and divulged by the OAS, fuelled fears that there was worse to come, since it told the Algerian people to await independence for a chance to take their revenge. However, on 12 May Algerian affairs minister Louis Joxe and defence minister Pierre Messmer opposed the transfer to metropolitan France of all former auxiliaries not included in the general repatriation plan drawn up by the authorities, and threatened to send all those who arrived outside that plan back to Algeria. With this, they were violating the general declaration of the Évian Accords, according to which “no Algerian may be forced to leave Algerian territory or prevented from leaving it”, and the statement of guarantees, which affirmed the “freedom of movement between Algeria and France”. Moreover, Joxe had himself assured Parliament that no French person from Algeria would lose their citizenship without renouncing it voluntarily, but that they could only exercise it in France. To turn “French Muslims” away from French soil thus amounted to depriving them of their citizens’ rights, as well as putting their lives in danger.

     

    bulletins vote

    “Yes” and “No” ballot papers used in the referendum on Algerian independence on 1 July 1962. © AFP PHOTO

     

    Instability and violence

    The referendum in Algeria on 1 July 1962 should not have interrupted the process set out in the Évian Accords, since the GPRA had endorsed it, inviting the Algerian people to vote “Yes” to the question, “Do you want Algeria to become an independent State that cooperates with France according to the terms set out in the declarations of 19 March 1962?” But the National Council of the Algerian Revolution (CNRA), gathered from 25 May to 7 June, had begun by unanimously voting the “Tripoli programme”, which described them as a “neo-colonialist platform” to be dismantled as quickly as possible: it thus amounted not only to a refusal to ratify the Accords, but to a deception towards the French Government – since the Tripoli programme was kept secret – and the Algerian people, who were being called upon to ratify the Évian Accords, not knowing that they had been rejected.

    The sovereignty of the French State in Algeria was transferred on 3 July to the new State embodied by the Provisional Executive, prior to the election and meeting of an Algerian constituent assembly. But its chairman, Abderrahmane Farès, immediately handed over to the GPRA the powers of the Provisional Executive, all of whose members appointed by the GPRA had resigned on 30 June in protest at the total anarchy that reigned in the country. However, president Ben Khedda refused to accept Farès’s resignation, and insisted he carry on his job despite not having the authority to do so. The Force Locale (Local Force), created under the Évian Accords to provide law enforcement for the Provisional Executive, had been placed under the command of a former Algerian officer of the French Army, but on 3 May he said he was no longer in a position to perform his role, because “his numbers were diminishing like snow in the sun, his members deserting to join the ranks of the ALN, taking their weapons and bags with them”. What remained of the Local Force had disappeared by early July 1962.

    The FLN, political winner of the Algerian conflict, was divided at the time of independence into two rival coalitions that recognised either what remained of the GPRA or the Political Bureau formed by Ben Bella, an ally of the general staff of Colonel Boumedienne’s ALN. Three months of clashes interspersed with negotiations weakened the former and led to the beginnings of a civil war between wilaya 4 (the Algiers region) and the forces assembled by Colonel Boumedienne, until a ceasefire enabled the election of a national assembly, in which the people were invited to ratify the single list of FLN candidates chosen by Ben Bella, who were elected on 20 September and invested Ben Bella’s government on the 29th.

     

    manifestation Alger

    Joyous demonstrations in Algiers following the proclamation of Algerian independence on 5 July 1962. © Photographe inconnu/ECPAD/Défense

     

    These nearly three months of anarchy favoured the continued kidnapping and murder of French civilians (and some military), especially in Oran, where nearly 700 French people were killed or abducted on 5 July 1962, the day before the arrival of France’s first ambassador to Algeria, Jean-Marcel Jeanneney. Meanwhile, violence was unleashed against the former harkis and partisans of France, in the form of abductions often followed by torture and massacres. Official statistics reported the abduction of more than 3 000 French civilians and nearly 1 700 deaths and disappearances between 19 March and 31 December 1962, but no figures are available for the number of “French Muslim” victims.

    Ambassador Jeanneney endeavoured to obtain Ben Bella’s compliance with the Évian Accords, but on 8 September 1962 he found out that the previously undisclosed text of the Tripoli programme was incompatible with the Accords. After countless violations, in December 1962 the French Government imposed the end of budgetary union between the French and Algerian treasuries, which enabled the Algerian State to have France pay off its huge deficit, made worse by the mass exodus of Algerian French. But a few months later, Algeria resumed its whittling away of the Évian Accords, culminating in the nationalisation of Saharan oil and gas in 1971.

    “A fragile legal construction”

    Ultimately, the Évian Accords had been no more than a fragile legal construction, whereby the French Government had wanted not only to end the war with the FLN, but also to determine the future of Franco-Algerian relations, yet without acknowledging its partner as legal representative of an Algerian State yet to be created. Although the three French ministers who took part in the Évian negotiations had agreed to sign the text of the Accords and initial the 93 pages together with the head of the GPRA delegation, Belkacem Krim, the French Government did not publish it as it was, but under the title “government declarations concerning Algeria”, with a different layout and different signatures. And it protested against the de jure recognition of the GPRA by the Soviet Government on 19 March. Thus, by not recognising its negotiating partner, the French Government had itself weakened the text of the Accords. Meanwhile, the GPRA had taken a more logical stance, proposing as early as 24 October 1961 that the French Government should recognise the GPRA without delay, before negotiating the remaining matters between States, and, after 18 March 1962, publishing the main tests of the Accords as the result of negotiations between two governments.

    It is therefore understandable why, for more than three decades, successive French Governments have refused to commemorate 19 March 1962. Far from putting an end to the confrontations, the very limited enforcement of the ceasefire that accompanied the Accords nevertheless enacted the end of a cycle, paving the way for an independent Algeria.

     

    rapatriés

    Repatriates from Algeria on board the liner Ville-d’Alger, 20 June 1962. © Jean-Jacques Jordi

    Author

    Guy Perrier, historian

    The National Office for Veterans and Victims of War

    Information leaflet on the rights of veterans of the auxiliary forces, the harkis and their families.

    Remembering the Algerian War

    View of the memorial, renovated for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Évian Accords and the ceasefire in Algeria. Quai Jacques Chirac, 7th arrondissement (Paris). © Gérard Collin-Thiébaut

    Algeria in the ECPAD archives

    ECPAD powder magazine (Algeria archive films. © Ambrose Ducable/ECPAD/Défense

    Les Derniers – The Vel d’Hiv roundup

    The Les Derniers project consists of a series of short documentaries, streamed free of charge on the internet (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Each episode follows a meeting with a former concentration camp deportee.
    Through eyewitness accounts from survivors of the Second World War and the Holocaust, the Les Derniers (“The Last”) documentary series illustrates a chapter of French history. By passing on the memory of events, the series aims to raise awareness, particularly among the younger generation.
     
    Sophie Nahum, the director of the documentaries, launched the project in 2017, because of the urgent need to gather the testimonies of the last remaining survivors – children or teenagers at the time, who are today in their 90s.
    For that reason, she chose to visit them in their homes, as one visits a grandmother or grandfather, and ask them about the war and deportation, and also about how they rebuilt their lives afterwards and how they view the world today.
    She decided to take “an alternative approach to remembering our history”, namely by using social media. These eyewitness accounts are therefore told from the homes of the witnesses, and take the form of friendly, informal chats.
     
    The Ministry of the Armed Forces Directorate for Heritage, Remembrance and Archives provided financial support to the project.

     

    29 March 1967: launch of the submarine Le Redoutable

    “France’s defence must be French [...] If a country like France is to make war, it must be its own war. Its war effort must be its own.” Thus declared Charles de Gaulle in 1959. The first president of the Fifth Republic wanted France to become an independent power, by joining the closed circle of countries that had nuclear weapons. On 3 February 1960, the first bomb went off in the Algerian desert, ushering in a new era for France: that of nuclear deterrence. A genuine strategic asset still active today, one of the pillars of which was the submarine Le Redoutable, launched on 29 March 1967.

    Graffiti at the Drancy camp

    The Cité de la Muette was built in Drancy in the 1930s, by the architects Eugène Beaudouin (1889-1983) and Marcel Lods (1891-1978). One of its buildings, a horse-shoe-shaped structure, was unfinished when war broke out.

    Bry-sur-Marne: remembering the Battle of Champigny (29 November to 3 December 1870)

    On 1 September 1870, the French Army was defeated at Sedan. The Emperor surrendered, by the new Republic fought on. The Prussians, meanwhile, had their sights set on one goal alone: Paris. The French capital came under siege on 17 September. Against this backdrop, the Battle of Champigny a marqué les consciences des habitants du Val-de-Marne. Principale tentative de sortie des armées françaises pour desserrer l’étau prussien, les 30 novembre et 2 décembre 1870, elle se solde finalement par un échec. Située au cœur du champ de bataille, la commune de Bry-sur-Marne a été tout particulièrement meurtrie et éprouvée par les combats.