The book, a unique historical source, a document revealing the real motivations that presided over the French colonial enterprise in Algeria. A work that challenges French consciences on the duty of memory, the imperative of intellectual safety that should act in the muddy sediments’ depths, where large sections of French society are bogged down believing in the accuracy of the French presence in Algeria.
To go back to the surface of the truth, to wash them of the lie that was for a long time the official history’s leitmotiv and to make them fertile loons for new Franco-Algerian relations, far from the emotional hold of French Algeria’s nostalgics, these petty ‘Algerianists‘ who cultivate a blind apology for colonialism.
The author of the historical document “History of a perjury”, in this case Michel Habart, did not escape the relentlessness of the lie’s heralds who proceeded to destroy the book’s publishing house, leading to the printing of only seventeen copies. The journalist ‘à la croix‘ and free man of letters had by his work of memory raised the veil on the first episode, the first sharp milestone having caused the first injury to the Algerian ground, an injury – prelude to deep bruises on the body of the kingdom of Algiers.
A work of conscience that the author wanted as a kind of mea-culpa to the silent consent of the vast majority of the French to the war enterprise of the King, his vassal political class, his generals in search of glory, stripes and pecuniary ease.
Was it not the treasure of the Casbah which was at the origin of the wind turbine which had muted the voracious appetites of the court of Charles X and the princes in search of more lust and prestige? It was in fact colossal for the time: estimates range from 200 to 250 million francs, a titanic treasure, subject of incredible salivary effusions of Charles X and Prince Polignac. Lusts which had nourished for years the imagination of the court of France, another pretext for the conquest of Algeria, was advanced by the masons of the sordid edifice: The holy and glorious crusade of 1830, was said to rid Europe and Christianity of a nest of pirates and slavery. It is still said because the myths are still stubborn.
When the Royal Armada sailed on Algiers, the Algerian spokes had for years moored their chebeks. The pretexts of the colonial conquest do not stop at the two pretexts mentioned above, but go up to Algiers where officiated a certain Jacob Bacri, a powerful financier whose role was preponderant in the tracing of the main lines, which will later serve to justify the French expedition. The pretexts of our declaration of war of 1827, “were only a series of provocations mounted in Paris by the ultras, and in Algiers by the financier Jacob Bacri, which Bacri had, for two million, bought our consul Deval, a Talleyrand creature; which for a lot more, and for more than thirty years, was himself associated and sold to Bacri, who in turn repeated with pleasure that he had the lame man (Talleyrand) in his hand“.
At the end of this chain of deceits were the Duke of Orleans and the Algerian War. Such were the real godfathers of this war: Jacob Bacri, a ruffian of genius, Deval a proxenetic provocative agent, the prince of Talleyrand or the diplomatic Astaroth, the king Louis Philippe (‘a soul lower than my floor’, as referred to by Charles X), President Thiers, one of the greatest criminals in French history and Marshal Clauzel, known as “the man-colonies”, who had already distinguished himself in Santo Domingo.
The sequins, the duplicates and the diamonds which the Algerians had been hoarding for centuries were the tablets of this glorious baptism which the Pope and all the prelates of the kingdom blessed with transport. The proclamation of imposture and its trompe-l’œil. What did the proclamation say? “We Frenchmen, your friends, are leaving for Algiers. We will drive the Turks out of your tyrants… We do not conquer the city to become the masters. We swear by our blood… Be united to us, be worthy of our protection, and you will reign as formerly in your country, independent masters of your country… The French will act with you as they acted thirty years ago with your brothers well – loved the Egyptians”, further, “we are committed to respecting your treasures, your property and your holy religion … We are your sincere friends, and will always remain so… Come to us, you will make us happy and our friendship will be advantageous to you… We will live in peace for your happiness and ours”.
The great Algerian notabilities had believed this declaration with its refreshing tone, the sincerity of the new arrivals and the prospect of a presence that will not last in time. A lie with the hints of peace. But the real motivations of the French expeditionary force were spoken in crude terms, coated with hatred, criminal intent and a willingness without ounces of sagging to settle in the long term, and to make Algeria a settlement colony.
In the same days he was spreading the proclamation, Bourmont declared to the shipowners gathered at the Chamber of Commerce of Marseille that he was taking possession of Algiers “to make a colony“. Polignac “spoke of the expansion of France in Africa, Charles X of crusade and the bishop of Marseille, in front of the chiefs of the army, of those places that Saint-Louis from the top of the sky invites us to conquer to revive the Church of Africa in the sweat and blood of her martyrs“.
Perjury and the open road to the genocide of the Algerian people.
The declaration lasted only the time of a short-lived dream, because once the reins in hand, the new masters of the kingdom of Algiers had started a criminal campaign against the natives: massacres, expropriations, destruction and systematic rape of the traditions of the Algerian population, a characteristic attack on the Muslim faith…
For the Comte de Sainte-Marie, who describes a raid of 80,000 heads of cattle, at once sold off, “the country is so rich that destroying it exceeds our forces” and further, the sinister Bugeaud “Twenty thousand men, armed with good axes would not cut in six months the olive trees and figs of this beautiful country”. However, the systematic destruction of the villages continues, “more than fifty beautiful villages, all of stone, were looted and destroyed“, announced Bugeaud triumphantly.
From Dahra, a region whose fertility was legendary, P. de Castellane wrote to his father: “We only left when it was completely ruined“.
The looting of Constantine was famous: “the richest parts”, wrote the Maréchal of Saint-Arnaud, “go to the chiefs and the leadership.” Spreading here the misdeeds of the French presence in Algeria is not a sinecure, nevertheless, on reading this document – light on the real reasons that had presided over the conquest of Algeria, allows the reader to identify the supporters of the criminal enterprise of Clauzel, Bugeaud, Massu and other war criminals.