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Search form Search. It tells the story of the French-Algerian War, which ended with the victory of the National Liberation Front FLN and an independent Algeria, a land that France had considered an integral part of metropolitan France itself. This book has often been revisited in the decades since its publication, most recently during the Iraq War, when — in — President George W.

Bush invited Horne to speak with him at the White House. One of the most powerful lessons from the book is on the issue of torture. Torture was used, arguably to great tactical effect, by the French during the war, particularly during the Battle of Algiers. Once the extent of the use of torture became public knowledge, however, it changed the debate about the war, in both France and the rest of the world. We are proud to re-print a portion of this book with the permission of New York Review Books.

From the Battle of Algiers onwards this was to become a growing canker for France, leaving behind a poison that would linger in the French system long after the war itself had ended. And these were very potent indeed. It is one of the most difficult things in this world to establish the truth about torture; whether it did or did not take place, and the nature and scale of it. The plaintiff is as unlikely to tell the unadorned truth as his oppressor; for it is so superlative a propaganda weapon given into his hands. All the writer can do is to state what was claimed and admitted on both sides.

I am not frightened of the word.


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As an instrument of state, torture was expressly abolished by the French Revolution which never practised it on 8 October , but even well before this French humanist writers had decided that it was both inhuman and inefficient. I am determined to punish with the utmost severity not only those members of the public service found guilty of using violence but also their superiors. In March , however, even more suggestive evidence came in a highly controversial proposal made in the Wuillaume Report by a senior civil servant quite unconnected with the police.

From his researches, Wuillaume recommended:. The water and electricity methods, provided they are carefully used, are said to produce a shock which is more psychological than physical and therefore do not constitute excessive cruelty…. According to certain medical opinion which I was given, the water-pipe method, if used as outlined above, involves no risk to the health of the victim. This is not the case with the electrical method which does involve some danger to anyone whose heart is in any way affected….

I am inclined to think that these procedures can be accepted and that, if used in the controlled manner described to me, they are no more brutal than deprivation of food, drink, and tobacco, which has always been accepted…. Citing a letter from a soldier written well before the Battle of Algiers, Pierre-Henri Simon recounts how the writer had been invited by gendarmes to attend the torture of two Arabs arrested the previous night:.

Geography Now! Algeria

The first of the tortures consisted of suspending the two men completely naked by their feet, their hands bound behind their backs, and plunging their heads for a long time into a bucket of water to make them talk. The second torture consisted of suspending them, their hands and feet tied behind their backs, this time with their head upwards.

Underneath them was placed a trestle, and they were made to swing, by fist blows, in such a fashion that their sexual parts rubbed against the very sharp pointed bar of the trestle. By way of explaining the essential atmosphere in which torture could become institutionalised within the French army in Algeria, one needs to take into account all those factors touched upon in the previous chapters: horror at the atrocities of the F. Created by order of Lacoste and placed under the control of that Indo-China expert on subversive warfare, Colonel Roger Trinquier, in its operation the D.

It divided the city up into sectors, sub-sectors, blocks and buildings, each bearing a number or letter even today the hieroglyphs can still be found painted on the fronts of houses in the Casbah. In the short term the D. The numbers of Muslim suspects passing through the hands of the paras as a result of the D.

Algeria 1954-1962

The suspects were generally, as a matter of principle, arrested at night so that any colleagues they named under interrogation could be grabbed before the lifting of the curfew, and before they would have a chance of being warned and disappearing. In particular, no mention of whatever kind is to be made to any representative of the Press.

At first his D. Then, says Trinquier:.