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Why was Algeria's decolonisation struggle so violent?

- the nature of french colonial rule: from the outset the relationship between France and Algeria was a "blood drenched affair" (QUINN) - violent history e.g. 1847 French invasion and scorched earth policy. Also Algeria was an integral part of the French settlement (proximity). It also had an exceptionally large number of settlers (1mil pied noir)
- the failure of the french to accommodate (moderate) Algerian nationalism.
- the willingness of both sides to resort to excessive violence and terror.


In what ways was Algeria a settler colony? How was this expressed?

many French nationals emigrated to Algeria in the late 19th century and through the first half of 20th century. By 1952 1,000,000 European settlers/ descendants (termed the pied-noir) occupied Algeria. This accounted for 12% of the population. They were privileged in a number of ways:
1. they occupied the most productive agricultural areas and removed Algerian peasants from the area either through the use of force or through financial pressure. this gave them economic strength and stronghold. By 1954 25% of the farming land was owned by 2% of the population.
2. politically, the French instituted a double electoral system in which the votes of french citizens were worth 8x those of Algerians. There was also a dual system in local government in which European area (communes de plein exercise) had full rights of local government where muslim ares (communes mixte) were under European administrators and Algerian personnel.
3. limits to assimilation - it was very difficult to naturalise into a French citizen - by 1936 only 2,500 Muslim Algerians had become French citizens. "muslims were automatically French subjects but not French citizens" (HORN)


who were the 'petits blancs'?

literally small whites, the petit blancs were failed farmers, driven off land by falling post-WW2 economy, lack of capital and increasing mechanisation. They formed a militant group of settlers who saw native Algerian population as a further threat to their position in society. They had political objectives to thwart even moderate Algerian nationalist goals for instance the 1935 Blum-Violette Bill and the 1944 Brazzaville declaration both of which aimed to make it easier for native Algerians to become french citizens were both thwarted by the 'petit blanc' political wing.


what forms of nationalism did Algerian nationalism take? Who were the main leaders of these movements and what were their objectives (broadly)?

1. Moderate - Fernat Abbas - advocated assimilation with France rather than full independence (note: Abbas and others became increasingly radicalised in the face of repeated failed reforms).
2. Radical (socialist) - Messali Hadji - want full independence for Algeria
3. Religious - Sheik Ben Badis - "an ascetic and deeply conservative theologian who believed that Algerian regeneration could only be achieved by a return to the first principles of Islam" (HORNE)


what was the Etoile Nord-Africaine?

- set up in Paris in the 1920's
- founders include Messali Hadji
- their aims were to help Algeria achieve full independence.
- it was eventually disbanded by the french government in 1927


Committee revolutionaire de unite d'action / FLN

summer 1954: the historic 9 convene in a secret meeting in switzerland. The 9 include Ben Bella, Bella Kassin Krim. They found the committee revolutionaire de unite d'action, which later becomes the FLN (Front Liberation Nationale)
On the 31st Oct 1954, they call for Algerians to take arms - membership of the group is somewhere between 900 and 3,000. They had one goal; the independence of Algeria.
On the 1st Nov 1954 they instigate an attack on military and administrative objectives. That attack is known as the Toussaint rouge or the bloody all saints day.


Who is Ahmed Ben Bella?

- he was a seargant for in WW2
- he returned to Algeria after the setif massacre and was outraged
- in 1954 he creates the FLN
- in 1958 he establish the GPRA - the algerian government in exile which he was president of.
- he later becomes the first president of Algeria


What effect did WW2 have on Algeria?

- increased agitation for indepedence
- post WW2 Algeria was greatly impoverished
- there was huge unemployment (c50%) and an increase of migration to cities
- mechanisation of agriculture contributed to this unemployment - partly responsible for the petit blancs.
- end of war celebration in May 1945 led to the setif massacre.


Indo-China War

- 1945 - 1954
- started by France in response to the August revolution (1945) in which Vietnam tried to claim independence.
- the war demonstrated the weakness of the French administration (which changed 20 times in the duration of the war).
- the war ended when Pierre Mendes becomes the head of the french government - he was a progressive and conceded vietnam's independence.
- impact on Algeria:
* the Algeria question was pushed to the side and settler local governments took control of Algeria - further reform was quashed.
* the french lost the indo-china war - they didn't want to lose again.


What happened in the 1948 Algerian elections? what effects did this have?

They were hugely fraudulent towards the settlers despite them already having a huge bias in the electoral system. This led to an increasingly radicalised nationalist movement. in particular Ahmed Ben Bella broke with Messali's 'movement pour le triumphe des libertes Democratiques' and formed 'organisation speciale' committed to fighting colonisation through ALL means necessary. This movement began preparing for armed conflict but were 'busted and ben Bella was arrested (he later escaped).


when did the Algerian war of liberation begin? How much support did the FLN have in these early days?

officially begins on Nov 1 1954 with the attack on military and civillian targets by the FLN. The day comes to be known as the Toussaint Rouge (Red All Saints Day). From Cairo the FLN broadcast a proclamation calling on Muslims in Algeria to join in a national struggle for Algerian independence. In the early stages of the struggle most Algerians were in favour of a relative status-quo with some reform (a la Ferhat Abbas), they later radicalised because of the violence of the French retaliation and the failure of governmental reform.


Why did France want to keep Algeria so badly?

- locational geography meant it was seen as part of French Republic - "One does not compromise when it comes to defending the internal peace of the nation, the unity and integrity of the Republic." (Premier MENDES).
- resources - agricultural and mineral resources (but this was not the main reason). Algeria also had land resource to account for growing population in France - migration across the french/Algeria border was common.


Dates of Algerian War

1 Nov 1954 - 19 March 1962


what were the methods of the FLN throughout the Algerian War?

- violent campaign against both military and civilian targets (terrorism). The attacks were strategic and aimed at provoking French retaliation in order to radicalise Algerian moderates and, according to Connelly to garner international support
- they had a big focus on gaining the support of the muslim population - "no amount of diplomatic virtuosity would have sufficed if the GPRA's activities abroad had not visibly resonated with the people it represented" (connelly)
- Garnered help from neighbouring independent states (Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt). "without [them] rebellion would have been crushed before the end of 1957" (MICHAEL K CLARKE)
- they consciously internationalised the conflict (with help from their allies in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt). For instance they made their case at the UN and the GPRA (Algerian government in exile) was eventually recognised in 1958.
- after 1948 they played on the cold war rivalry between the US and Russia to further gain financial support. Algerian leaders threatened to turn to communist help - Americans became pro-peace/ pro-independence and put influence on the French government. "Algerian nationalists took advantage of super power rivalries and indeed went on to rewrite the rules of the cold war" (CONNELLY)


What was the French army's response to FLN terror?

they responded with disproportionate violence. For example the 1955 Philippeville Massacre. They used tactics such as torture and detention. The french also resettled the Algerian population in guarded villages and punished civillians for FLN attacks.


Philippeville Massacre

FLN killed 70 europeans (terrorism)
French responded by massacring 1,000-12,000 Algerians.


when did the Algerian War end? WHY?

de Gaulle (Premier of France) despite lobbies from settler government in Algeria and military gains against the FLN ultimately relinquished control of Algeria on the July 5 1962. This was because of the FLN's international campaign which was compromising the French viability/ image on the international stage. By the end of 1962 9/10 white algerians left the country - in a final act of violence they pillaged and destroyed hospitals, libraries, schools etc.


How successful were the French during the Algerian War? Why?

- initially they were successful in rooting out FLN strongholds
- their disproportionate attacks however, were counter-productive as they radicalised moderate Algerian nationalists.
- the french army had strong alliances with the vigilante settler groups (e.f. Front de l'Algerie Francaise) which were also fighting the FLN. Poor control and communication from French government meant that the army and these groups largely operated together and largely independently of the French government.
- on the international stage the french failed as well they tried to push the message that they were developing the world in Algeria but they were ultimately silenced by the images and videos put out by the FLN.
- (although brief success with Egyptian diplomacy)


Who were the OAS?

they were a radical right-wing group (in both Algeria and France) who were committed to sabotaging any peace processes with the FLN.


the May 1958 coup

a coup d'etat by the committee of Public Safety led by General Massu in response to de Gaulle's proposed peace plan with the FLN - Massu was later removed


how many people were killed in the Algerian War



how many people were displace in the Algerian War