The May 8 1945 massacres of Sétif and Guelma: France’s crimes against humanity
By Mehdi Lallaoui
France, along with countries around the world, marked ‘Victory in Europe Day’ on Friday, in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of war in Europe. But May 8th 1945 also marks the beginning of the massacres of thousands of Algerian civilians by French soldiers and settlers’ militias, which, according to various estimations, left between 6,000 and 35,000 people dead. The events, which began during celebrations of the victory over Germany in a market town in north-east Algeria, were for 60 years unrecognised by France. Documentary maker Mehdi Lallaoui tracked down survivors and witnesses of the mass killings, along with rare archive material, for a 55-minute film for TV channel Arté, which Mediapart presents here. To accompany it, Lallaoui writes of the context and horrors of the weeks of mass murders, and calls for what “is undisputedly a crime against humanity” to at last be officially recognised as such.