“U no approach on the memory of the Algerian war and colonization ”: It is in these terms that the entourage of Emmanuel Macron defined, Wednesday, the will of the Head of State, during an off conceived as an after-sales service of the report of the historian Benjamin Stora. Like Jacques Chirac’s famous speech in 1995 on France’s role in the Shoah, Emmanuel Macron made the question of colonization and the Algerian war a memorial issue emblematic of his five-year term, for “Look history in the face, so as to build a memory of republican integration”. And this, whether it concerns Franco-Algerian or Franco-French issues, such as the teaching of colonization and the Algerian war in French school curricula, for the time being largely euphemized, or even passed over in silence. .
Moreover, assure his advisers, “Emmanuel Macron does not regret the comments made during his visit to Algiers in 2017, while he was a candidate.” Words that recognized colonization as “A crime against humanity”, and exempt him today, according to him, from any form of apology or repentance. “That is no longer the subject, ensures his entourage, what more could he say? Today, it is about doing. “
To do so is therefore the whole challenge for the coming months, after the 22 recommendations of the report submitted by Benjamin Stora. The most important is the creation of a “Memory and Truth” commission, made up of “Different personalities involved in the Franco-Algerian dialogue”. The spectrum of these recommendations is wide, from the collection of testimonies, the publication of a “guide to the disappeared”, the preservation of European and Jewish cemeteries in Algeria or even the facilitation of the movement of harkis between the two countries – which succession “Diplomatic action necessarily longer” , point the advisers of the Head of State. But other recommendations relate to an even more sensitive subject: the work of historians.
The virtual impossibility of accessing the classified defense-secret archives dating after 1934
Specifically, the issue of opening the archives, one of the Head of State’s commitments, is a hot topic (read our January 20 edition). Because, for more than a year, many historians and collectives of archivists, including the Association of French archivists, that of contemporary historians and the Josette & Maurice Audin Association have denounced the virtual impossibility of accessing classified archives. -defence dating from after 1934, which “Opens the door to an arbitrary management of access to the archives of the nation”. An appeal to the Council of State was filed in September 2020 against interministerial instruction 1300 which organizes the consultation of these documents. The entourage of Emmanuel Macron recognizes a problem of “Strict practice of protecting secrecy (which) is experienced as a step backwards”, and ensures working at “Reconcile the Heritage Code and the Penal Code”. Promised, sworn: the executive “Studies with interest the arguments of associations”, and access to the archives will be possible ” in the next weeks “. But vigilance remains in order for such a sensitive period. Because, in line with the recognition of the responsibility of the State in the disappearance of Maurice Audin, Emmanuel Macron knows that he is playing big politically on the question of the Franco-Algerian collective memory, as his advisers hammer out: “History will judge what we do. “ Not just the story.