France to Make Algerian War Archive Public

Roselyne Bachelot, France’s Culture Minister, announced that the government will soon open the most highly-classified parts of her country’s national archives about the Algerian war of independence, shedding light on some of the darkest chapters of France’s 20th century history.

The French fought against an independence movement in its colony from 1954 to 1962. Algerians were killed in the thousands, and French forces and proxies tortured opponents, according to historians.

“We need to have the courage to look the historical truth in the face,” Bachelot said on Friday.

France was convulsed by the fighting in Algeria, resulting in a failed coup attempt against then-President Charles de Gaulle to stop him from ending French rule. France is still deeply divided and highly sensitive about the conflict almost 60 years after it ended.

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Ben Stora, a prominent French historian of Algeria, says declassifying the archives is a crucial step toward improving our understanding of the war.

According to him, the archives might explain certain deaths that remain unexplained to this day.

Until 1962, Algeria was governed by France for 132 years.

Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Algiers two days prior to the announcement. The talks were aimed at restoring dialogue between the two sides after ties deteriorated sharply.

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