Saturday, April 02, 2005

Chirac's Formative Years

The French are trying to rewrite history (again), the London Times reports:

FRENCH historians are protesting against a new law that obliges schools to present the country’s colonial exploits in a favourable light, especially in Algeria, where hundreds of thousands were killed in the fight for independence.

Eminent historians said this week that the law “imposes an official lie about past crimes and massacres that sometimes went as far as genocide”.

French relations with Algeria, which suffered up to 500,000 dead, have now been revived up to a point. President Chirac, who fought in the Algerian war as a lieutenant, paid a first state visit to Algiers two years ago.

I picked this up from American Future (looks promising) on a tip from Daily Demarche.

The French have always been in denial about the horrors they inflicted on Algeria.

The official French history of the Algerian war did speak of torture, but only that carried out by the Algerian side. The French journalists who wrote about the electrodes and the Nazi-style water tortures used by their compatriots faced death threats.

Jacques Duquesne was one of them. He showed me horrific photos of raped Algerian women which he has only now felt able to publish. But as Daniel Sarera acknowledges, even 39 years after the war, this is not easy.

"President Chirac was a captain during the war in Algeria. He was doing his military service; he was not a professional officer,"

So, Chirac was an amateur officer? Must be where he developed his deep concern for human rights.

An American friend recently asked why I objected to the UK merging into the EU. My reply: "it's like being locked in the school with the Columbine killers".