La Baraka - The Algerian War (Jacky Alaux)

"Why, when I opened the mailbox this morning, had I found a leaflet from the FLN in which it was written: “For you, Europeans, only one choice: the suitcase or the coffin. "? I did not have an answer to all these questions, but I made a choice: […] to fight for Algeria to remain French forever. "

This book invites you to follow Jacky Alaux, a.k.a " The Baraka "(" The lucky one "in Arabic), young black foot engaged in parachute hunters to protect his family and live in peace on the land of his ancestors, his land, his homeland, French Algeria.

The author apologizes for his poor literary talents, one would almost see in them false modesty as the style is fluid, catchy, bewitching! Short (205 pages), well cut, this book is accessible to all (the slightest technical term or military jargon is explained for neophytes). At a time when the wound opened by the Algerian war has not yet closed, and while the film "Hors-la-loi" is coming out in our cinemas, it may be good to immerse yourself in this other vision of the conflict where none of the sensitive subjects is omitted: massacre of Europeans, repression, torture, "treason", De Gaulle, Harkis, exile of the black feet, OAS ...

From the discomfort of the historian ...

"La Baraka" is a book for which the historian has a strange sense of attraction and repulsion. Why that ?

This book enters into the great tradition of war memoirs, and as such the historian remains skeptical. Indeed, our human memory cannot retain everything, and when we read the dialogues reported, we immediately say to ourselves that this individual story has been romanticized. And it cannot be otherwise, any memory is the transcription of real events through the gaze of an individual who is not neutral during the events (since he is an actor) and not disinterested in the broadcast image (since it is before all of the image that will leave him in History). Thus, voluntarily or unconsciously, the individual tends to retrace the facts in his own way, he does not write history to us, he fixes his personal memory on paper.

The doubt as to the total veracity of the transcribed facts is accentuated by the very presentation of this work. We are presented with a "moving testimony, of a raw truth", and at the same time we are announced "novel" on the cover ... As if to enlighten the reader, it is specified that the events described are based on real facts but that the names characters and parachute unit number have been changed.

This book is therefore difficult to use by the historian, who will really have to take it with a grain of salt if he comes to use it, in one way or another, as a source document.

... To the relief of the citizen

Should "La Baraka" be relegated to the rank of novels, without historical interest? No ! This book allows everyone to have access to an individual piece of memory, as if your father, your grandfather, were telling you HIS war. And the interest is limitless.

First of all these "old men", who fought for France, we will leave one day, and we will only have their testimonies, engraved on different media to give us an idea of ​​their vision of this war.

Then, if the accuracy will be questioned by some, the book offers the reader an atmosphere, that of the Black Foot engaged in the paras to save his Algeria, his department. And this atmosphere, essential for understanding the period, how could the young historian get an idea of ​​it? In library books written by people who did not fight this war? Certainly not. Bear in mind that the majority of students do not have, and certainly never will, have military experience. How can they understand the close ties that linked these men engaged in a fight to the death against the FLN?

Memories like this are therefore an essential complement for any historian who wants to understand the Algerian war for a while.

In addition, the young man whose route we follow has a rather atypical destiny, he is a member of a hunting commando, a unit sent forward for violent actions against the rebels, the "outlaws" as they say. so. It is therefore the closest to the fighting, the atrocities ... How to react to the enemy when you have shortly before found comrades killed, tortured, the body exposed on the road, the belly open and filled with stones, the eyes gouged out and genitals cut off? How could he react? How would you have reacted?

Under the pretext of a politically correct pseudo some may deny the memories of a fighter commando, who is more a member of the OAS later. But that would be a very childish reaction. The enlightened man will enthusiastically welcome this work, which offers him a vision of the Algerian war other than that currently conveyed by the media. This enlightened man will be happy to be able to compare the testimonies, to try to understand the aspirations, the motivations of each one.

Because the enlightened man is not one of those who throws our former soldiers as food for a pseudo-history based on self-flagellation, he refuses to be the servant of the Algerian government by accepting without flinching the official history of the FLN.

So let's be happy that despite an unfavorable climate some men, like Bigeard did, do not hesitate to throw a pavement in the pond! Let us read their testimony carefully, and try to understand the war that these men, volunteers or called, were waged to defend a territory that they were told to be French.

La Baraka: The Algerian War by Jacky Alaux. France-Empire, May 2010.

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