ALGIERS- The celebrations commemorating the massacres of 8 May 1945 were launched Saturday, in Algiers, at the initiative of the Association of Former Algerian Muslim Scouts.
The kickoff of these celebrations was given by the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Mojahedin and Rights Holders, Laid Rebika in the presence of the advisor to the President of the Republic in charge of the associative movement and the national community abroad, Nazih Berramdane and officials of the Algerian Muslim Scouts.
The Secretary General of the Ministry of the Mojahedin stressed the importance of the organization of such outreach activities by the Association of Former SMAs in order to transmit, to the younger generations, Algeria’s history, shed light on the sacrifices of our people to liberate this country of colonialism and contribute to the building of the Algerian individual imbued with values and patriotism “.
Mr. Rebika called for “a strong participation in these historical events to safeguard the national and collective memory and instill the spirit and the patriotic values to all the Algerians, in particular with the approach of the commemoration of the massacres of May 8, 1945, which the President of the Republic has instituted as a National Day of Memory. ”
For his part, Mr. Berramdane highlighted the importance of this event which aims to highlight intergenerational continuity and consolidate national memory among young ADMs and all categories of society to preserve the history of the national movement and the Revolution.
To this end, the commanding general of the former SMA, Mustapha Saïdoune, said that this initiative “is part of the local memory aimed at the commemoration of the first martyrs who fell on the field of honor in early May 1945”.
The May 8th massacre was a series of widespread killings in and around Sétif, west of Constantine, in 1945, according to Wikipedia.
Colonial French police fired on local demonstrators at a protest on May 8th 1945, causing the death of about 45,000 . Both the outbreak and the indiscriminate nature of its repression are thought to have marked a turning point in Franco-Algerian relations, leading to the Algerian War of 1954–62.
The event’s outbreak occurred on the morning of May 8th 1945, after Nazi Germany was surrendered in World War II.
A parade by about 5,000 of Algerian population of Sétif to celebrate the victory, as France had promised to grant Algeria independence in case of the victory, ended in clashes between the marchers and the local French gendarmerie.
This was followed by a smaller protest in the neighboring town of Guelma.
In this aspect, the historian Alistair Horne reports that there were a number of rapes and that many of the corpses were mutilated.
After five days of chaos, the French military and police suppressed the protesters, and then carried out a series of attacks; troops, carried out summary executions and less accessible mechtas (Muslim villages) were bombed by French aircraft.
These attacks killed between 1,020 (the official French figure given in the Tubert Report shortly after the massacre) and 45,000 people (as announced by Radio Cairo at the time).
The Sétif outbreak and the repression that followed marked a turning point in the relations between France and the Algerians.
Impact on modern Algerian/French relations
In February 2005, Hubert Colin de Verdière, France’s ambassador to Algeria, formally apologized for the massacre, calling it an “inexcusable tragedy.”