October 17, 2010

Remember The Paris Massacre Of October 17th

Today is the 49th anniversary of the Paris Massacre of 1961. At 5pm, a rally and vigil is being held in Place Saint Michel in memory of the dozens of Algerian demonstrators murdered by the Paris police there (and in the days that followed).

The peaceful demonstration was being held by Algerians protesting in favour of independence for their country.

No-one knows how many died: Estimates range from 70 to 200. Dozens were drowned after being herded into the Seine – many after being beaten unconscious. Many more were beaten to death in the courtyard of the Headquarters of the Prefecture of Police.

Another, smaller, massacre took place the following year at the Charonne Metro Station. Nine members of the CGT Trade Union were murdered, also on the orders of Prefect of Police, Maurice Papon.

The cover up was swift and total. Papon ensured an almost complete news blackout of events. It wasn't until 1998 that the Government reluctantly conceded the events had taken place, and, even then, they only admitted to 40 deaths. Ironically, pressure had only become irresistible following the successful prosecution of Papon for War Crimes: His ordering the deportation of more than 1600 Jews from Bordeaux between 1942 and 1944.

It won't surprise anyone to learn that one of Papon's few remaining supporters at this time was Jean-Marie Le Pen, Head of the Front National and longtime political bedfellow of Nick Griffin.

The next time you're in Paris, walk over the Pont Saint-Michel to Notre Dame. It's beautiful. You'll also be walking on the site of the biggest peacetime massacre in Western Europe. There's a small, commemorative plaque on the Bridge.

It only appeared in 2001.


Anonymous said...

Just read the Wiki article on this and to think this happened in Paris in the 1960's and that it was covered up in the media at the time. The Charonne Massacre the following year involved members of the powerful French Communist Party so the news was harder for the authorities to supress. It's good that both are being remembered

Anonymous said...

Very good. I never heard about this until 1991.

I am not sure which is worse really--the massacre or the very successful way in which it was covered up.

It is very frightening.