What did French opponents of Algerian independence envision for Algeria's future?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,020
SoCal
#11
The last statement about the 1st of July vote is correct. However I missed out "or" in the spoilt or abstained. The pied noirs had given in by then and independence was a formality.

Now, I realise that what you are quoting is the earlier vote. Having written this piece, I am re-reading a bit more since its so confusing and complicated.

De Gaulle was amazingly, duplicitous or clever or crafty (take your pick, depending up your opinion) in mixing up a vote for himself, for the Fifth Republic, out-right independence, close association or total assimilation of the Algerian Muslim population into Metropolitan France.

BTW none were more affected by the troubles than the Algerian Jews, a community that had existed from Roman times or maybe earlier, increased by Jews fleeing medieval Spain , given French citizenship in 1870 but subject to widespread discrimination and prejudice by the Pied Noir. Their citizenship was revoked by the Vichy Government. Courted initially by the FLN ("homeland of the Algerian Jew is Algeria", the events in Israel\Palestine, resulted in an almost total exodus following independence.
Why did the pieds-noirs discriminate against the Algerian Jews?

Also, it's interesting that the FLN initially wanted the Algerian Jews to remain. I haven't heard that before, but it does raise my opinion of the FLN a bit (for the record, I would have supported the FLN in the Algerian War, albeit somewhat reluctantly due to the behavior of some of them--such as targeting the remaining harkis). I do wonder just how much of a factor the Arab-Israeli conflict was in the exodus of the pieds-noirs, though. After all, one would think that having French citizenship for almost a century would also be a significant factor in causing Algerian Jews to want to move to France after Algeria acquired independence.
 
Mar 2015
1,436
Yorkshire
#12
Why did the pieds-noirs discriminate against the Algerian Jews?

Also, it's interesting that the FLN initially wanted the Algerian Jews to remain. I haven't heard that before, but it does raise my opinion of the FLN a bit (for the record, I would have supported the FLN in the Algerian War, albeit somewhat reluctantly due to the behavior of some of them--such as targeting the remaining harkis). I do wonder just how much of a factor the Arab-Israeli conflict was in the exodus of the pieds-noirs, though. After all, one would think that having French citizenship for almost a century would also be a significant factor in causing Algerian Jews to want to move to France after Algeria acquired independence.
I don't have first hand knowledge unlike some of the contributors to this thread - so maybe we can get more from them. My understanding comes from my reading and some of my memories of the time from the British press and newsreels

I think the FLN view was that both they and Jews had a common enemy in the Pieds Noir.

Why is anyone anti semitic? I suggest its because they are different and too successful. Anyway the Pieds Noir were very pro-Vichy and anti-semitic according to Alistair Horne and others that I have read. De Gaulle had an ambivalent attitude to them, especially as they had supported Petain enthusiastically. He intended to save France - if that meant giving independence to Algeria so be it, although I think he would have preferred to keep it in the Union in some way.

You are right about the preference for France after 100 years and out of 140,000 Jews in 1961, 110,000 emigrated to France with only 8,500 going to Israel, practically none remained in Algeria, post independence. They were all Sephardic Jews which might explain the low numbers opting for Israel.

I would temper your enthusiasm for FLN if I were you. Their brutality at times was equal to that of ISIS and it was directed as much against "quislings" in the Muslim community as legitimate French military targets.

Mutilation of their victims was commonplace and severing and displaying the head of the local Cadi (local Muslim leader, used by the French to govern the muslim countryside areas) was a favourite method of intimidation.
 
Likes: Futurist
Nov 2010
7,666
Cornwall
#13
I don't have first hand knowledge unlike some of the contributors to this thread - so maybe we can get more from them. My understanding comes from my reading and some of my memories of the time from the British press and newsreels

I think the FLN view was that both they and Jews had a common enemy in the Pieds Noir.

Why is anyone anti semitic? I suggest its because they are different and too successful. Anyway the Pieds Noir were very pro-Vichy and anti-semitic according to Alistair Horne and others that I have read. De Gaulle had an ambivalent attitude to them, especially as they had supported Petain enthusiastically. He intended to save France - if that meant giving independence to Algeria so be it, although I think he would have preferred to keep it in the Union in some way.

You are right about the preference for France after 100 years and out of 140,000 Jews in 1961, 110,000 emigrated to France with only 8,500 going to Israel, practically none remained in Algeria, post independence. They were all Sephardic Jews which might explain the low numbers opting for Israel.

I would temper your enthusiasm for FLN if I were you. Their brutality at times was equal to that of ISIS and it was directed as much against "quislings" in the Muslim community as legitimate French military targets.

Mutilation of their victims was commonplace and severing and displaying the head of the local Cadi (local Muslim leader, used by the French to govern the muslim countryside areas) was a favourite method of intimidation.
Good post
 
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,020
SoCal
#14
I don't have first hand knowledge unlike some of the contributors to this thread - so maybe we can get more from them. My understanding comes from my reading and some of my memories of the time from the British press and newsreels

I think the FLN view was that both they and Jews had a common enemy in the Pieds Noir.
Interesting.

Why is anyone anti semitic? I suggest its because they are different and too successful. Anyway the Pieds Noir were very pro-Vichy and anti-semitic according to Alistair Horne and others that I have read. De Gaulle had an ambivalent attitude to them, especially as they had supported Petain enthusiastically. He intended to save France - if that meant giving independence to Algeria so be it, although I think he would have preferred to keep it in the Union in some way.
It's interesting that De Gaulle's ambivalence towards the pieds-noirs might have been caused by their previous support of Vichy. I haven't heard that before, but it makes perfect sense if true.

Also, based on this 1959 De Gaulle quote, I am skeptical that he would have wanted to keep Algeria inside of the Union--at least not on terms that the Algerians would have ever been willing to accept:

Charles de Gaulle on Algerian Independence

De Gaulle shrewdly realized that modern values would (rightfully) necessitate granting full equality to Algeria's Muslims if Algeria were to remain French--and this would include allowing Algerian Muslims to move to France en masse--something which was clearly unacceptable to De Gaulle. Had Algeria remained a part of France, it's not out of the question that 10-20 million Algerian Muslims would have eventually moved to France. I mean, look at Puerto Rico--a majority of Puerto Ricans now live outside of Puerto Rico!

You are right about the preference for France after 100 years and out of 140,000 Jews in 1961, 110,000 emigrated to France with only 8,500 going to Israel, practically none remained in Algeria, post independence. They were all Sephardic Jews which might explain the low numbers opting for Israel.
Israel does have a significant Sephardic Jewish community, no?

I would temper your enthusiasm for FLN if I were you. Their brutality at times was equal to that of ISIS and it was directed as much against "quislings" in the Muslim community as legitimate French military targets.
Yes, I mentioned their atrocious treatment of the remaining harkis in my previous post above. :( IMHO, the FLN should have only focused on French military targets and not on anything else. A peaceful, non-violent independence movement would have been even better, but given that this would have resulted in a big fat "No" from France, I can understand why it would be attractive for the FLN to attack French military targets. Still, civilians--including Muslim "quislings"--should have been off-limits to FLN attacks.

Mutilation of their victims was commonplace and severing and displaying the head of the local Cadi (local Muslim leader, used by the French to govern the muslim countryside areas) was a favourite method of intimidation.
That's really disturbing. :( Plus, it wouldn't exactly endear one's cause to others, now would it?
 
Nov 2010
7,666
Cornwall
#15
I read a book once - Legionairre by Simon Murray, who later became a famous writer. He did his 5 years in the Legion with the first 3 being in the war running up to independence. It will open your eyes a bit, were it still available (?)
 
Likes: Futurist
Mar 2015
1,436
Yorkshire
#16
"Futurist
Yes, I mentioned their atrocious treatment of the remaining harkis in my previous post above. :( IMHO, the FLN should have only focused on French military targets and not on anything else. A peaceful, non-violent independence movement would have been even better, but given that this would have resulted in a big fat "No" from France, I can understand why it would be attractive for the FLN to attack French military targets. Still, civilians--including Muslim "quislings"--should have been off-limits to FLN attacks."


Early on the FLN did try this but it didn't work and of course people like Ferhat Abbas, major politician, francophile, francophone, ex pharmacist and admirer of France did try the peaceful way (as did the French central government to a certain extent) but this was always sabotaged by the Pieds Noir.

What does work and the FLN mastered this was to commit an atrocity to provoke the French usually on an isolated French farm - plenty of blood and a bit of mutilation etc - or a day of action across Algeria to show their strength and strike fear in the civilian population. The French then obligingly over-react in overwhelming force inevitably creating many innocent muslim casualties and lots of new FLN recruits.

To compound the error, the French carryout mass internment of "suspects", the vast majority of whom are totally innocent. Locked up in jail with the committed hardened terrorist\freedom fighters, this is the perfect school for training new recruits. Realising their mistake the authorities now release these newly indoctrinated cadres back into the civilian population (btw the British did this in Northern Ireland with similar results - someone clearly had never studied the Algerian war).

The real enemy for any such revolutionaries is those amongst its own community who seek a middle way. FLN was particularly successful in eliminating all such moderate politicians through widespread assassination.

To add to the mayhem, the French Secret Service was particularly adept at infiltrating the organisation, which became obsessed with purging "traitors".

The net result is that the FLN to keep itself pure is killing it own members, any politician seeking a dialogue with the French and any Muslim co-operating with the French.
 
Likes: Futurist
Mar 2015
1,436
Yorkshire
#17
One thing really bewilders me in regard to the French last year of ruling Algeria.
The Europeans fought against the FLN, they called for "French Algeria" but There was a referendum in 1961 where 69% percent in Algeria and 75 % in France voted Yes for Self-determination,
in other words, they vote for the end of French Algeria, (Taken into account the only French citizens could vote )

Am I missing something? What's the explanation?
I think the bit you are missing is that ALL Algerians including Muslim women were given the vote in 1958 in the first and the two subsequent referendums - remember the population of Algeria was about 8 million with 1 million Pieds Noir at the time

The results of the first referendum where they were asked to approve the new constitution of the Fifth Republic were as follows:

September 1958
Registered Voters 4,412,171
Votes for 3,357,763 (97%)
Votes against 118,631 ( 3.4% )
Invalid Votes 38,816
Turnout 80%



The FLN had demanded that their supporters boycott the vote but as you can see they Muslim population ignored this advice. Apparently there were amazing scenes as 30,000 Muslims spontaneously rose up fropm th e Casbah and joined Pieds Noir in celebrations at Algiers (fraternisation , never to be repeated).

In January 1961 De Gaulle called the second referendum ,worded as follows and again open to all Algerians:

"Do you approve the bill submitted to the French people by the President of the Republic and concerning the self-determination of the populations of Algeria and the organization of the public authorities in Algeria prior to self-determination?"

The word "self-determination" was anathema to the Pieds Noir but the FLN was also completely against De Gaulle's version since it required a period of peace from them, four years transition before implementation, continued French Military presence for up to 15 years, granting Bases to France - 50years for Mers-el- Kebir and French control of the riches of the Sahara (in fact the French argued that Algeria was only the area north of the Rif Mountains). In any case the FLN throughout remained hard lined and intended (an eventually got) their demands complete. This time something of the order of 40% of the Muslim population abstained. The actual figures were:

January 1961
Registered Voters 4.5 million
Votes for 1,749,969 (69.5%)
Votes against 767,546 ( 3.4% )
Invalid Votes 109,174
Turnout 60%


I think the conclusion is that most of the votes Against were Pieds Noir and vast majority of those voting For were Algerian Muslims (who had defied the FLN)

PS - sorry about the layout. I had typed a neat tables but it just becomes jumbled up - let know if anything is unclear.
 
Last edited:
Likes: Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,020
SoCal
#18
"Futurist
Yes, I mentioned their atrocious treatment of the remaining harkis in my previous post above. :( IMHO, the FLN should have only focused on French military targets and not on anything else. A peaceful, non-violent independence movement would have been even better, but given that this would have resulted in a big fat "No" from France, I can understand why it would be attractive for the FLN to attack French military targets. Still, civilians--including Muslim "quislings"--should have been off-limits to FLN attacks."


Early on the FLN did try this but it didn't work and of course people like Ferhat Abbas, major politician, francophile, francophone, ex pharmacist and admirer of France did try the peaceful way (as did the French central government to a certain extent) but this was always sabotaged by the Pieds Noir.
That's a huge shame, IMHO.

Also, it's interesting that some secular Muslims such as Ferhat Abbas initially wanted Algeria to remain a part of France--first with full assimilation and later with autonomy.

What does work and the FLN mastered this was to commit an atrocity to provoke the French usually on an isolated French farm - plenty of blood and a bit of mutilation etc - or a day of action across Algeria to show their strength and strike fear in the civilian population. The French then obligingly over-react in overwhelming force inevitably creating many innocent muslim casualties and lots of new FLN recruits.

To compound the error, the French carryout mass internment of "suspects", the vast majority of whom are totally innocent. Locked up in jail with the committed hardened terrorist\freedom fighters, this is the perfect school for training new recruits. Realising their mistake the authorities now release these newly indoctrinated cadres back into the civilian population (btw the British did this in Northern Ireland with similar results - someone clearly had never studied the Algerian war).
Very interesting! Indeed, I seem to recall some of this being taught in my Terrorism class at my university a year ago. (I have since graduated.)

I honestly can't in good conscience support this kind of brutality, though I have to admit that the FLN appears to have been left with no choice in regards to this. Indeed, this is what happens when there is an excessive unwillingness to compromise. Of course, I will say that the FLN's actions were more justified than the Palestinian actions during the Second Intifada; after all, in the case of the Palestinians, Israel was open to giving them independence. This isn't to say that the FLN's actions were completely justified, but there is a shade of gray here that doesn't really exist for the Palestinians during the Second Intifada.

The real enemy for any such revolutionaries is those amongst its own community who seek a middle way. FLN was particularly successful in eliminating all such moderate politicians through widespread assassination.
That really does suck and I can't in good conscience support this either--though I have to admit that the FLN's actions here really do appear to have worked.

To add to the mayhem, the French Secret Service was particularly adept at infiltrating the organisation, which became obsessed with purging "traitors".
It's ironic that French actions resulted in pro-French Muslims being killed by the FLN.

The net result is that the FLN to keep itself pure is killing it own members, any politician seeking a dialogue with the French and any Muslim co-operating with the French.
Yep.

Also, off-topic, but it's interesting how some segments of the French military were willing to support the pieds-noirs so much that they were willing to overthrow the French government in order to save French Algeria. This makes one wonder if such a military coup would have actually succeeded in a scenario where France wasn't weakened by World War II and where the Algerians would have still waged a war for their independence.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,020
SoCal
#19
I read a book once - Legionairre by Simon Murray, who later became a famous writer. He did his 5 years in the Legion with the first 3 being in the war running up to independence. It will open your eyes a bit, were it still available (?)
Interesting. I'll see if I can find it.

BTW, I am currently taking a look at this book about the Algerian War through Google Books:

A Savage War of Peace

Google Books is a great resource for this even if some pages of their books are unavailable. :)
 
Mar 2015
1,436
Yorkshire
#20
Interesting. I'll see if I can find it.

BTW, I am currently taking a look at this book about the Algerian War through Google Books:

A Savage War of Peace

Google Books is a great resource for this even if some pages of their books are unavailable. :)
I recommend the book. Horne is an excellent writer - just occasionally his grasp of historical facts lets him down but he does seem to have managed to get interviews with just about every major actor except of course Boumediene, the puritanical puritan who out- did all the other hardliners to come out on top.
 
Likes: Futurist