(my work on this translation began in April 2018; this is work in progress, in more ways than one, so please be patient… if you want to know how the war ended, go to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_War; this is the draft which I plan to continually revise/edit/improve)
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Among modern histories of liberation struggles and wars of anti-colonial movements, as well as among histories of peoples’ movements of Asia and Africa, and histories of various developments and processes that occurred after the World War Two, a special place belongs to the Algerian Revolution. The Algerian Revolution is one of the most prominent and most characteristic revolutions based on the conditions from which it sprung, on its preparations, motives of the revolutionary actions and on the experience which it brings to the international and global understanding of liberation movements.
This topic was a special interest of research for the author because he had an opportunity, as a journalist and a historian¹, to follow the Algerian Revolution from its inception; to be in contact with people who lead it; to be with the fighters and the people and their armed struggle; he also had an opportunity to be present during political and diplomatic activities from their beginnings, which accompanied this armed struggle and revolutionary activity of the whole people.
It has also been necessary to give my own contribution to the study of the revolution of 1954-1964, as well as to the study of the rich history of Algeria because of superficial, unscientific and biased/one-sided interpretations and even intentional falsifications of Algerian history by politicians and journalists ideologically and politically tied to colonialism. These interpretations impeded the development of the revolutionary consciousness of the Algerian community, and the formation of the revolutionary movement of Algeria.
¹Being an historian by calling, as soon as I became physically distanced from Algeria (after it gained independence) in 1962, and while I was still inspired by the epic heroism of the Algerian people, I felt responsible to contribute to the study of the history of the revolution, objectively, using scientific methodology and approach.
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Furthermore, in the works of its ideologues and many historians, French imperialism promoted the thesis of Algeria as a country and community without the past and traditions, whose history begins only with the arrival of the French conquerors. According to that interpretation, no one in Algeria is a true native, so “all nations of the world,” and especially those of the Mediterranean – whose representatives came together with the French conqueror–have as much right to the Algerian soil, to its past and present, as the native population which is just as immigrant as the Europeans.2
A large number of French historians are of the opinion that, up to the French conquest of 1830, one could talk only about Turkish rule in Algeria, which was antagonistically oriented towards both the native population, and France and Europe as well. Historians G. Gautherot, G. Esquer, Grammont and others, claim, for example, that the French campaign of conquering Algeria was aimed not against the native population but against the thin layer of the Turkish rulers and their hirelings—Janissaries.3 But at the same time, they do not insist on the existence of some kind of a direct control that the High Porte exerted over the Algerian dey. The basic thesis that neither the country of Algeria, nor its community and people existed before the arrival of the French remained. Having adopted this point of view, and at the moment when it was necessary to find the solutions for the problems caused by the Algerian uprising, (i.e., to negotiate with the Algerian people over the independence and sovereignty of their country), the President of the French Republic, General De Gaulle stated on Sept. 16, 1959 that, “There has never been an Algerian state, in any shape or form.”4 Thus the conclusion that, in Algeria, the principle of self-determination cannot be established in relation to the native population as a whole, but only in relation to individuals representing various ethnic, linguistic, racial and religious groups. The aim of this position was to impede an understanding of the true nature of the community in Algeria.
2The official textbooks on Algeria, up to 1962, which elaborated these thesis are: S. et Chaulanges, Cours élémentaire, Delagrave, 1949; Ballot et Marc, Cours moyen; A. Colin, Paris 1953; Kuhn et Ozouf, La géographie au certificat d’études, Delagrave, 1949.
3Gustave Gautherot, La Conquete d’Alger 1830, Paris 1929; Gabriel Esquer, La Prise d’Alger 1830, Alger 1923; 1856, 1867; H. D. Grammont, Histoire dAlger sous la domination turque (1515—1830), Paris, 1887.
4 Le Monde, 17, September 1959.
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Such attitudes were based upon widely disseminated works of the ideologues of French colonialism, in particular Jacques Soustelle according to whom there had never been an Algerian people, so therefore no one in the whole Algeria was even aware of their existence (5), and the armed rebellion of 1954 was the act of a Pan-Arab conspiracy (6). According to E. F. Gauthier, the French, the masters of Maghreb, came to Algeria after the Turks, whose rule followed the Arab rule, just as the Arabs came after Byzantium, and the Byzantines came after the Vandals, who came after the Romans, who came after the Carthaginians. In other words, it has been a cascade of foreign domination which has not been interrupted, not for a moment, by local autonomy or some independent state. In addition, foreign conquerors have never been kicked out of Algeria by some native rebellion; they have always been expelled directly by another conqueror, the heir of the earlier conqueror.
(5) Ferhat Abbas contributes to this thesis in his early articles where he claims that there is no Algerian people. Ferhat Abbas, Le Jeune Algérien, Alger 1931, L’Entente, Alger 1939.
(6) J. Soustelle, Aimée et souffrante Algérie, Plon, Paris 1956, 142-221.