A land that was watered by the blood of revolutionaries for many years, and the ears of freedom and independence sprouted.
It is Algeria, the rebellious country that emerged from the warmth of its womb, the revolutionaries, the country of a million martyrs, whose heroic stories about its people are still stories passed on by generations. As for the story of the colonizer and his men, it is panic and fear that haunts him in his dreams and vigils.
In this Al Jazeera documentary film entitled “Algeria’s War… Testimonies of Conscience”, the director reviews the testimonies of five French recruits on the events they experienced in Algeria during the colonial era. They are Pierre Rambo, Georges Trillo, Remy Sarr, Georges Gary and Louis Datan.
More than 53 years after Rambo’s return to his country, his peace of mind is still lacking, because the images of his comrades-in-arms killed on the morning of his discharge from the military remain a shadow of his, causing him a state of fear and panic.
As for Trillo, he feels ashamed, saying: What pride do we have when we are participating in a vile war, the Algerians are fighting us to rid their land of us? We are not the ones who liberated France from the Nazis, that is a cause for pride.
Sarr talks about many of the conscripts who were involved in torture and rape, saying: Whoever committed these crimes was voluntary, not coerced, if I were in their place at that time and my commander in the service ordered me to commit any action, I would have agreed to that, and my work sheet would not be white.
There are many incidents of torture of Algerian detainees in which the French colonialists used an electric shock device, and here Gary believes that it is his “duty to tell the events and speak out the truth so that they are recorded in the history books.”
As for Datan, neither his sons nor his wife knew the details of his injury in the Algerian war, saying: My wife knew that I was shot by a heavy machine gun during an ambush set by the rebels and we fell into it. I did not tell the facts of the incident to my wife until 50 years later.
As for Rambo, he says: My wife realizes that what happened in the Algerian war troubles me greatly.
None of the conscripts concealed the state of fear and panic accompanying him as one of the effects of the Algerian war, even while living in his country of France. Rambo says: After two years I spent in Algeria, I returned to France in 1958, where my house was on the shore of the lake. I came back and the hunting season was in full swing, but the crack of the cartridge – which is one of the weapons used for hunting purposes – struck fear in my heart and I disappeared from view.
As for Sar, the sound of hunting rifles in the French countryside was driving him to the ground, and he could not bear to hear it. Trillo, when he heard the crack of the shot, would look left and right to make sure it did not come out of a machine gun.
And when Rambo attended a seminar on torture in the Algerian war, he left it in tears before it ended, saying: You know how embarrassed a man is for crying in front of people.
As for Datan, he was haunted by nightmares in his sleep that his wife would say to him after he woke up the next day: The scenes of the Algerian war must have visited you in your sleep.
The director reviews the testimonies of five French recruits on the events they experienced in Algeria during the colonial era