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  • JIM HOUSE (a1) and NEIL MACMASTER (a2)

In the General Introduction and Conclusion to our book, Paris 1961: Algerians, state terror, and memory, we argue that the time has come to move beyond the current phase of political battle, the fixed-position trench warfare, over the events of ‘17 October’ for a more open history that can begin to address some wider and more fruitful questions. At the core of the polemic during the last decade has been the almost obsessive ‘battle of numbers’ that has raged between the maximalist Jean-Luc Einaudi (200–300+ deaths at the hands of the police) and the minimalist Jean-Paul Brunet (at most 30–50 deaths, but only 13 conclusively ‘proven’). In replying to Jean-Paul Brunet, we shall discuss two substantive issues: the nature of the evidence and its interpretation, and inevitably the question of the number of fatalities.

Corresponding author
Department of French, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2
School of Political, Social and International Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4
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1 Jim House and Neil MacMaster, Paris 1961: Algerians, State terror, and memory (Oxford, 2006), p. 13.

2 Jean-Paul Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris, October 1961’ (in this issue), p. 195.

3 Jean-Paul Brunet, Charonne: lumières sur une tragédie (Paris, 2003), pp. 35–6.

4 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 196.

5 House and MacMaster, Paris 1961, pp. 12, 107.

6 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 203 n. 18.

7 House and MacMaster, Paris 1961, p. 9.

8 See Pierre Vidal-Naquet, La raison d'état (Paris, 1962); Raphaëlle Branche, La torture et l'armée pendant la guerre d'Algérie, 1954–1962 (Paris, 2001); Sylvie Thénault, Une drôle de justice: les Magistrats dans la guerre d'Algérie (Paris, 2001).

9 House and MacMaster, Paris 1961, p. 124.

10 Ibid., pp. 163–4.

11 Alain Dewerpe, Charonne 8 février 1962: anthropologie historique d'un massacre d'état (Paris, 2006), especially ch. 8 ‘Le mensonge’ and ch. 10 ‘La répression légale’.

12 See the critique of Brunet's Police contre FLN: le drame d'Octobre 1961 (Paris, 1999) by the eminent scholar and Algerian specialist, the late Pierre Vidal-Naquet, in his Introduction to Paulette Péju, Ratonnades à Paris (Paris, 2000 edn), pp. 8, 17. Brunet's book, ‘which was probably not written to displease Maurice Papon’ caused him two concerns, ‘firstly because no Algerian witnesses have been interviewed … next, because Jean-Paul Brunet reduces to an extreme minimum the number of victims, depending essentially on the evidence of … Maurice Papon’.

13 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 199.

14 On the question of oral and written sources, and testimony, see Jim House, ‘Ecrire l'histoire d'octobre 1961', Raison présente, 157–8 (Jan. 2007), pp. 127–38, and ‘Leaving silence behind? Algerians and the memories of colonial violence’, chapter in Nanci Adler and Selma Leydesdorff, eds., Memory and narrating mass violence (Edison, NJ, forthcoming).

15 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 199.

16 Brunet, Charonne, p. 61: this bizarre claim is substantiated by a footnote reference to Jean-Luc Einaudi, Octobre 1961: un massacre à Paris (Paris, 2001), pp. 37–8, but this says nothing of the kind and relates to matters of police, not Algerian evidence.

17 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 200.

18 It is not surprising that among the 14,000 Algerians who were subjected to extreme police brutality, then arrested, further bludgeoned, and crammed into sports arena, were some individuals who showed signs of trauma, panic, stress, and mental breakdown: see Neil MacMaster, ‘Rumours of genocide: police repression of Algerian nationalists and the Paris “gas chambers” of 17 October 1961’ (forthcoming).

19 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 203 n. 18.

20 Brunet, Police contre FLN, pp. 319–20.

21 Ibid., pp. 232, 328; Brunet, Charonne, p. 26.

22 Brunet, Police contre FLN, p. 220; on Wuillaume see House and MacMaster, Paris 1961, pp. 151–2.

23 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 197.

24 Ibid., p. 197.

25 Ibid., p. 4. On identical official claims of loss of control by the police at Charonne, see Dewerpe's closely argued debunking, Charonne, pp. 138–40.

26 House and MacMaster, Paris 1961, pp. 119–25.

27 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 201.

28 Raphaëlle Branche, La guerre d'Algérie: une histoire apaisée? (Paris, 2005), pp. 228–31. Montaner's article was reprinted in a slightly modified version in Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains (June 2002), pp. 87–94.

29 L'Afrique réelle, 33 (Autumn 2001), pp. 39–40.

30 Quoted in Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison, ed., Le 17 octobre 1961: un crime d'état à Paris (Paris, 2001), p. 41.

31 Monique Hervo, Chroniques du bidonville: Nanterre en guerre d'Algérie, 1959–1962 (Paris, 2001), pp. 200–1.

32 Michel Levine, Les Ratonnades d'octobre: un meurtre collectif à Paris en 1961 (Paris, 1985), pp. 95–6.

33 Michel Gibier, interview 11 Jan. 1999, Einaudi, Octobre 1961, pp. 179–80.

34 Brunet, Police contre FLN, p. 200; Einaudi, Octobre 1961, pp. 183, 191.

35 Brunet, ‘Police violence in Paris’, p. 203, and Police contre FLN, pp. 325–6.

36 Péju, Ratonnades, p. 52.

37 Benjamin Stora, Ils venaient d'Algérie: l'immigration algérienne en France, 1912–1992 (Paris, 1992), pp. 151–221.

38 Brunet, Police contre FLN, p. 162.

39 House and MacMaster, Paris 1961, pp. 107–9. For example, Henri Maynier, director of the cabinet of the minister of justice, expressed his alarm to the prime minister's office that in the case of sixty bodies found in the Paris region, ‘certain indications lead us to fear that this may be a question of “police actions”’.

40 House and MacMaster, Paris 1961, p. 167.

41 Ibid., ch. 6.

42 See, for example, Laure Pitti, ‘Ouvriers algériens à Renault-Billancourt de la guerre d'Algérie aux grèves d'OS des années 1970: contribution à l'histoire sociale et politique des ouvriers étrangers en France’ (Ph.D. dissertation, Paris-VIII, 2002); ongoing doctoral research by Linda Amiri, La fédération de France du FLN, 1954–1962, Institut d'études politiques, Paris. See also the project directed by Sylvie Thénault and Raphaëlle Branche on the Algerian War in metropolitan France (to be published by Autrement, 2008).

43 See Emmanuel Blanchard's, ‘La préfecture de police de Paris et les Français Musulmans d'Algérie (1944–1962)’ (Ph.D. dissertation, Université de Bourgogne, forthcoming); Dewerpe, Charonne; special edition of Bulletin de l'Institut d'histoire du temps présent, 83, premier semestre 2004, ‘Répression, contrôle et encadrement dans le monde colonial au XXè siècle.’

44 See Politix, 76 (2006), ‘La colonie rapatriée’, articles by Choukri Hmed, Tom Charbit, Sylvian Laurens, and Françoise de Barros. See also Alexis Spire, Etrangers à la carte: l'administration de l'immigration en France, 1945–1975 (Paris, 2005); Lyons, Amelia, ‘The civilizing mission in the metropole: Algerian immigrants in France and the politics of adaptation during decolonization’, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 32, 4 (Oct.–Dec. 2006), pp. 489516.

45 Paul A. Silverstein, Algeria in France: transpolitics, race and nation (Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2004).

46 Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in question: theory, knowledge, history (Berkeley, 2005); Patrick Weil and Stéphane Dufoix, eds., L'esclavage, la colonisation, et après … (Paris, 2005).

47 Laronde, Michel, ‘“Effets d'histoire”: répresenter l'histoire coloniale forclose’, International Journal of Francophone Studies, 10, 1–2 (2007), pp. 139–55.

48 Romain Bertrand, Mémoires d'empire: la controverse autour du ‘fait colonial’ (Bellecombe-en-Bauges, 2006); Pascal Blanchard and Nicolas Bancel, eds., Culture post-coloniale 1961–2006: traces et mémoires coloniales en France (Paris, 2005).

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