The Algerian War was a momentous struggle for independence from France by Algerian nationalists between 1954 and 1962.
Unique historic footage has been gathered from both sides, much of it never before seen. The cameras were free to roam in both countries and many of the interviewees speak frankly for the first time of their role in the struggle.
This eight-year conflict caused the fall of six French Prime Ministers and eventually the collapse of the Fourth Republic. It returned Charles de Gaulle to power but also almost saw his demise and twice brought civil strife to mainland France, and the fear of a military coup. It resulted in the deaths of at least one million Algerians and the exodus of as many European settlers.
Pitiless terror, monstrous cruelty, flagrant torture, indiscriminiate violence was countenanced by both sides. It was the last of the old style “colonial struggles” and the first of what would become the widespread wars of decolonization. It also marked the first practical application of what we today call counter-insurgency.
A Peter Batty Production for Channel Four in Association with RTBF
Part 1: Road to Rebellion
Traces the French domination of Algeria, its subsequent colonization, and the rise of Algerian nationalism in the 1920s. By the 1950s, nationalist movements were becoming increasingly radicalized, and the stage was set for the beginning of the Algerian War.
Part 2: A Question of Conscience
The spread of the National Liberation Front’s (FLN’s) terrorism campaign to French civilians in the main urban centers transformed the conflict from a low-level insurgency to a full-scale war.
Part 3: I Understand You
With the war in Algeria going badly, the stage was set for the triumphant return of Charles de Gaulle to power in 1958. He quickly moved towards French disengagement, and the final showdown between the French government and the French colonialists in Algeria was now at hand.
Part 4: To the Barricades
French colonialists in Algiers staged an insurrection in the Algerian capital on January 24th, 1960. Known as “La Semaine des Barricades” (the week of the barricades), the future of the Fifth Republic hung in the balance as the French Army in Algeria considered joining the revolt.
Part 5: The Suitcase or the Coffin
The next year, de Gaulle’s government began secret peace negotiations with the National Liberation Front (FLN). On July 3rd, 1962 de Gaulle declared Algeria an independent country. The Algerian War had ended, the flight of a million French Algerians to France, however, had just begun.