Subversive Historian – 05/08/09

The Setif Massacre

Back in the day on May 8th, 1945 French colonial forces began massacring Algerians in the Setif and Guelma regions of the North African nation. The cruel irony of history is that the wanton killings by the colonizers began on the very same day that France joined much of Europe in celebrating the surrender and defeat of the Nazis in World War II. As such celebrations also took place in Algeria, peaceful protesters wanted to remind France and its allies of Algerian nationalist aspirations. General Duval was a principle architect of the repression that followed as unarmed crowds were fired upon in Setif, and others were summarily executed in Guelma. Lasting days, the disturbances claimed a disputed number of lives. France pilfered out a highly questionable death toll of 1,020 following the massacre while the Algerian state has placed it much higher at a staggering 45,000.

The blood spilt starting on May 8th marked a turning point in the Algerian anti-colonial struggle, as understandably, the population did not want to be occupied, shall we say, like “Vichy.”


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