October 17, 1961 Paris Massacre

October 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Today is the anniversary of the 1961 Paris massacre of Algerian protesters, one of the murkiest episodes in 20th-century French history, and yet to be fully clarified.

This was in the final year of the Algerian war of independence. A curfew had been imposed on Algerian immigrants in the Paris region and peaceful demonstrations were called in protest for the evening of October 17. Police carried out ferocious attacks at various rallying points, beating and shooting demonstrators and throwing the wounded and dead into the Seine. The whole operation was covered up and given barely a mention in press coverage the following day.

It took years for the facts to become public knowledge. Didier Daeninckx made it the subject of his novel Meurtres pour mémoire (Murder in Memoriam, 1984) and also exposed Maurice Papon, Prefect of Paris at the time, as the zealous Nazi collaborator who had played a significant role in the deportation of Jews, including many children, during the Occupation. An account of the events by historian Jean Luc Enaudi, La Bataille de Paris, was published in 1991. More light was shed in 1997 when Papon was arrested and stood trial for war crimes.

The numbers of the dead have never been fully established. At least 140 were killed, but estimates are as high as 300. There was no official acknowledgement of the massacre until last year, when, on the 51st anniversary, president François Hollande spoke publicly and paid homage to the memory of its victims.

On 17 October last year France 24 interviewed Jean Luc Enaudi. You can read this in English on the France 24 website:

http://www.france24.com/en/20121017-paris-massacre-algeria-october-17-1961-51-years-anniversary-historian-einaudi

If you read French you can find an earlier, more historically detailed interview with him at:

http://17octobre1961.free.fr/pages/dossiers/Einaudi.htm

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