70th anniversary of Sétif massacre

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the massacre that the “Free” French forces committed against Algerians in the wilaya of Sétif in May 1945.  This was at the very same time that the victorious Allies in Europe were celebrating their victory over Nazism. During World War II, many Algerians had fought alongside the “Free” French, believing the propaganda they used about “liberty, equality, and brotherhood”. So once it was clear that the “Free” French and their other anti-Nazi allies would be winning in Europe, many of the former Algerian fighters from Sétif, holding their own victory parade in their hometown, held up banners demanding what they had been promised… The French response? A prolonged and very punitive massacre…

My dear friend Landrum Bolling was an American newsman in North Africa at the time. Hearing rumors of the massacre, he went to Sétif to find out what had happened, carving right through all the French attempts to cover it up. You can read a report (in French) of Landrum’s account what he saw, in El Watan today.

I’m very pleased that an interview with him that I blogged ten years ago helped bring his testimony back to public notice… But really angry that my blog archives here have become so corrupted that I can’t find that blog post any more. Darn it.

 

3 thoughts on “70th anniversary of Sétif massacre

  1. Neil Hall

    Couldn’t find any blog post about Bolling, but I did find this comment of yours at your May 5, 2005 post Approaching 1,600 on May 8, 2005:

    Hi, Salah, Susan, friends–
    Thanks to you, Salah, for reminding/informing us about the massacre of Setif.
    By an amzing coincidence last week I was at dinner with a dear, dear old friend, Landrum Bolling, the former President of a Quaker college in Indiana called Earlham College. During WW2 Landrum was a correspondent in Europe for a wire service (I forget which), and as we sat over dinner last week he told the riveting story of how he was the first– or perhaps even the only– western journalist to get into Setif in the days immediately after the massacre…
    He told how the diplomats in Algiers had said it was only “something small” but he decided to go and investigate anyway. And on the way he met a British military attache who told him it was not small at all. So it was really difficult drive up a narrow valley valley to get there… but all along the way were burned-out villages… And when he got back to Algiers he was the only person telling the diplomats there (and the world) what had really happened.
    If I have time I’ll make a separate post about this, with the Babelfish translation into English of that Yahoo article. I have some commentary on it, too…

    Reply
  2. Abdelhafid Dib

    .Thanks Helena for remembering the massacre of Algerian people by French colonialism on May 8, 1945. I am one of million of the Algerian victims . My father was taken to prison in 1956 as freedom fighter ( I was less than 2 years old ) and was killed by torture in prison of Kodia in Constantine on January 19, 1958 . I can’t remember my father and even I don’t know where he was buried and , nevertheless, I don’t have any rancor against french people but I feel committed to the just cause of what whoever is the human race .

    Hafid

    Reply

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