In October 1961, during the Algerian War of Independence, a curfew was promulgated by the Paris police prefect Maurice Papon. This measure affected those who were designated as “French Muslims from Algeria”, making their everyday lives untenable. Guided and supported by the National Liberation Front, on October 17th, thousands left the suburbs, their neighborhoods, to come and demonstrate in the capital. The police reacted with a rare brutality as they were brought to a state of heightened readiness, due to the exhortations from the police prefect to remain firm. How many dead? We will never know exactly, more than a hundred for sure.
Then, silence. The political authorities, after having planned and executed the crime, did not consider themselves obliged to account for it. These events, according to them, were part of the fight against “Algerian subversion”. The press spoke of it, of course, but the death of all these peaceful demonstrators would not provoke the same outrage that would be generated five months later; the tragedy of Charonne.
This site calls for a reflection on collective memory. Comprising numerous documentary and iconographic sources, it accompanies and highlights the journey accomplished by the memorial initiatives that perpetuate the memory of the events of October 1961, despite the national interest. This project aims to contribute to debates within society on the representation of the past, and on collective identity in processes of reconciliation.
What representations do we share of our common past?