THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 8th May 1945
5/8/2012 11:14:16 PM -
French forces massacred people in Sétif, a town in north eastern Algeria, following a demonstration against continuing French colonial occupation. The massacre came on the day that world war two was officially declared at an end.
The demonstrators in Sétif were led by a young man, Saal Bouzid, carrying the Algerian nationalist flag. They were fired on by French gendarmes (military police) as they marched and chanted "vive l'independance." This was the beginning of a massacre by the French which lasted several days.
Not surprisingly there are conflicting accounts and interpretations regarding the sequence of events and number of casualties. It is accepted that 103 French nationals were killed during the disturbances, but estimates for the number of Algerian dead ranges from 1,020, the initial figure reported by the French commission of inquiry, to 45,000, the number reported by radio Cairo and Algerian nationalist groups.
Algerian troops returning home from fighting for so called liberty in world war two were greeted by carnage, mayhem and the death of loved ones they had left to fight a European war.
The Sétif massacre not only accelerated the struggle for Algerian independence, but set the violent tone France would adopt in seeking to retain Algeria as a colony.
The following clip reviews the brutality by France against Algeria in the immediate post world war two period up to Algerian independence in 1962:
"Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children." Amilcar Cabral