Algeria's War of Independence

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Algeria's War of Independence by Mind Map: Algeria's War of Independence

1. Causes

1.1. Tensions in Algeria before WWII

1.1.1. Algeria had been colonised by the French in a series of conflicts in the early 19th Century

1.1.2. The Pieds-Noirs, early French settlers were to number 1 million by 1945.

1.1.3. The French policy of 'assimilation' assumed the French society was superior --> French rule was racist and condescending.

1.1.4. French government deliberately delayed industrialization to keep Algeria underdeveloped.

1.1.5. 2% of the population owned 25% of the land, an exorbitant unemployment rate among Muslims. French built schools only for the French, far fewer schools for a majority population of Muslims.

1.2. Impact of World War II

1.2.1. The idea of colonial resistance cropped up, Britain's colonies had fallen to Japan, France had fallen to Vietnam.

1.2.2. France liberated Tunisia and Morocco, not liberating Algeria because of the colonial legacy.

1.2.3. The French government had no intention of changing its policy with Algeria claiming: "There are no people's to liberate."

1.2.4. Fehrat Abbas called for the abolition of colonialism, this propagated nationalistic movements.

1.2.5. Failed wheat harvests 1945, high unemployment and mass shortages of supplies. A.J.P Taylor's observation that all wars are caused by an economic factor.

1.3. The Era of Broken Promises

1.3.1. On VE day, many died in the Setif Massacre, 100 Europeans had died compared with 1000 Muslims.

1.3.2. Nationalist sentiment violently increased, but the French ratissages of Muslim communities quelled this.

1.3.3. From 1945-1946, no conciliatory efforts were made as Algeria received promise of autonomy but with no guarantee of decolonisation.

1.3.4. 1947 - Muslims got the right to vote, but were highly misrepresented. Both the Colons and the Muslims got 60 deputies to elect. Muslims constituted nearly 90% of the population!

1.3.5. 1956 - 8/864 administrative seats were held by Muslims.

1.3.6. Elections were rigged and the moderate Ferhat Abbas teamed up with Ben Bella to form the FLN --> Designed to wage guerilla war.

2. Fighting

2.1. FLN waged a Guerrilla War

2.1.1. Why adopt guerrilla war? Lack of resources, arms and training, compared to opponent. Physical terrain limitations. Ideological support: make the people believe it is THEIR war. Local traditions of resistance to authority and resistance against foreign influence. The need to shock the opponent, generating publicity and realising the opponent cannot wage a long war.

2.1.2. How does guerrilla war contribute to victory? Mass mobilisation of the people behind an insurgency. US vs. THEM. Anti-imperialism and nationalism. Turning point battles which culminate in social and economic reform.

2.2. Both sides unfortunately attacked civilians.

2.2.1. The FLN attacked the Colons.

2.2.2. French had the doctrine of collective responsibility, assuming every Muslim was guilty for any attack.

2.3. FLN had no international support, but gained it in 1955 at the Bandung Conference from USA, Britain, the Arab League and other countries.

2.3.1. France appeared to be unstable and lacked support, being pushed away from European affairs.

2.3.2. FLN would now have more resources to fight their more advanced opponent.

2.4. The Battle of Algiers 1956-57

2.4.1. FLN attacked the capital, very unusual and dangerous tactic for a guerrilla force. Also had the help of Muslim women bombing transport and cafes.

2.4.2. The French used brutal torture methods, historian Benjamin Stora: "Truly blood and shit."

2.4.3. Despite military weaknesses, the FLN became politically strong, France was internationally condemned for its Algerian policy.

3. Consequences

3.1. Immediate results:

3.1.1. Algerian Independence was achieved, but at what cost?

3.1.2. The OAS killed 2000 Algerians, and there was a mass exodus of French settlers back to France. 1964 - 1 million left.

3.1.3. Up to 250,000 Algerians had died in this war, with 12,000 of these deaths coming from colonial terrorist groups (OAS).

3.1.4. War consumed 60% of France's budget, which lasted 8 years!

3.1.5. Henri Alleg: "From the moment one starts a colonial war - a war to submit a people to one's will - one can issue all the laws one wants, but they will always be violated."

3.2. The Post-Independence Period:

3.2.1. The FLN had begun an 'internecine struggle', it was disputed who would command Algeria.

3.2.2. Ben Bella came back after having been imprisoned for the majority of the War. Brilliant speaker, tried to pass as a martyr. Won the support of General Boumedienne, leader of the biggest group of FLN soldiers. Ben Bella became the leader of the Algerian Politburo after Boumedienne defeated all rivals. Bella immediately abolished all other political parties.

3.3. Ben Bella's Rule 1962-1965

3.3.1. Background Inherited a shattered economy, factories abandoned and markets on the verge of collapse. The Evian agreement had safeguarded French control of Algerian oil, depriving the government of much needed income. Algeria had an entirely peasant society, with an uneducated populous.

3.3.2. Political problems The government needed strong united action, ruthless oppression ensued to ensure this. No constitution, no opposition from the press as it was not free. Nor was there talk of a trade union. With no elections, there would be no legal way of removing Ben Bella.

3.3.3. Economic problems Islamic socialism became the prevalent system, worker cooperatives were set up, banks were established and a quarter of the budget went to education. Unemployment was rampant, there were low-skilled workers or 700,000 emigrants to France. Competition from other newly independent states, lack of oil revenue, lack of experience. Ben Bella also had disastrous foreign policy and no understanding of economics = short war with Morocco.

3.3.4. Criticised by Boumedienne, a pre-emptive and reformist army coup took place and Bella was arrested in 1965.

3.4. Boumedienne's rule 1965-1978

3.4.1. Boumedienne was a war-hero, honest and incorruptible, a cold but practical man.

3.4.2. Boumedienne created a government of 26, the Revolutionary Council, STILL NO CONSTITUTION OR ELECTION.

3.4.3. "The Benevolent Dictator" --> Toured Algeria, extremely receptive to criticism.

3.4.4. 1968 - Renegotiated agreements with French oil companies to expand industry. Bought up 80% of foreign companies and nationalised them.

3.4.5. Followed Tanzania, created 190 socialist villages, nationalised all French or Bourgeois land --> 22,000 land seizures.

3.4.6. 6000 cooperatives, with schemes of reforestation, irrigation and housing developments.

3.4.7. His plan also included infrastructural developments, factories, nearly 100% literacy, higher wages, social services and sizeable university graduates.

3.4.8. Criticism: Failed to politicise the people, no elections or freedom of the press. A formal constitution was drawn up in 1976 with limited freedoms.

4. Historiography

4.1. Mazrui and Tidy: Few African colonies have gained their independence by waging war. Few colonies have ever upset European governments.

4.2. Fanon: The hard road to independence generates good leaders.

4.3. Fage: Wars of independence unite the people only until they are won. Afterwards comes disunity.

4.4. "In dark times, the institutions of our country failed."