Monday, 17 October 2011

!7 October 1961 - 2011 50 years of falshood and cover up

Today is the 50th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of French Algerians in Paris - demonstrating for the independence of their country from French colonial rule and an end to the brutal repression of their country. Covered up for years by the authorities, the bodies processed out of sight and evidence,  those who were responsible, Prefet  Papon,  were the same who had happily collaborated with and organised the deportation of the Jews to death camps under the Nazi occupation (Bousquet, Touvier) - and then doctored the archives to cover their tracks. Even the 'left' were anxious to keep it quiet. In J-P Rioux's text book on modern France the massacre got half a line as I recall. Indeed the first real exposition of the events and how they were hidden was by the crime writer, Didier Daeninckx in his brilliant novel Meurtres pour mémoire, (1984, translated by Serpent's Tale), and this while Mitterand was cosying up to his old friends - the 'distinguished' administrators who had perpetrated the horror. His publicity on Serpent's Tail states:
His 1984 novel Murder in Memoriam forced the French government to try Nazi collaborators, led to a life of imprisonment for Paul Touvier and made President Mitterrand declare 16 July a day of national reflection on fascism and racism.

Buy it - read it!!!

As I recall, even after Meurtres, it was hard to get cooperation to find documents. There was a bit of my own research that involved putting together figures of Parisian darkness, criminality and the great and the good between the 1930s and 1950s. I was trying investigate the pre-war fascistic prefet Chiappe (he died in a plane crash up to some dirty business for Vichy in 1940) and associate him with the post war 'heritage' of Papon et al, and the librarians at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris were utterly obstructive, claiming that, if my interest was music hall, they had no reason to get me out dossiers on the Police! Daeninckx's novel, as well as being a real thriller, was an immense support.

The first really public coverage I recall was a section of the Pompidou Centre exhibition Face à l'Histoire of 1996 but by then the barrage of silence was broken.

Read Kristin Ross, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies - Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture, 1995

However it's worth recalling that the City of Light has long been, second to none, the City of Bloodbaths.

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