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Services spéciaux Algérie 1955-1957 : Mon témoignage sur la torture (French) Paperback – May 3, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Perrin (May 3, 2001)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 2702865542
  • ISBN-13: 978-2702865545
  • ASIN: 2262017611
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,850,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John P. Jones III TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
...though in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible." - George Orwell

General Paul Aussaresses is the quintessential French military man who played a key role in numerous junctures in recent French history, from fighting in the French underground during the Nazi occupation, to the war in Indochina, and finally, and most critically, in the Algerian war of independence, which spanned 1954-62. The depth and intensity of these experiences, particularly since much was on the losing side in a war, are unknown to Americans. There is a small group of others whose experiences spanned the same events; in general they have remained silent, nursing their memories in the French countryside, but as the inevitable appointment with the "grim reaper" draws nearer, they have elected to preserve their memories on paper. Helie de Saint Marc, a French sergeant, broke his silence in 1990. After the French resistance, and Indochina, he was so determined not to lose in Algeria that he joined the mutiny led by four French generals. The mutiny failed, and de Saint Marc spent five years in prison. The story is available at:Helie de Saint Marc (French Edition)

Aussaresses, though he did not consider it such, had his own personal mutiny, and betrayed his scruples about the use of torture, eventually fully embracing this tactic, and going on to teach its use to Americans (Special Forces troops at Ft. Bragg, in 1966), as well as the Brazilian military dictatorship in the `70's.

Aussaresses broke his silence 10 years after de Saint Marc, and only a few months prior to the events of 9-11, a pretext for the Americans to again embrace torture.
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Format: Paperback
First, I must admit I've not read the English translation of this book. I read the 2001 Perrin Edition in French (entitled, "Services Speciaux: Algerie 1955-1957). Nonetheless, assuming the translation accurate, here are my perspectives:

Aussaresses wrote this book when he was around 83 years old and with full knowledge of the probable ramifications of it's publication in France, to wit, prosecution for war crimes. Sure enough, that hypocritical action was undertaken by the French government. The General (for that was his final rank) was fined $6500 for "trying to justify war", but not for the acts themselves, as these were previously covered by an amnesty. Perrin Publishing was fined another $13,000. Aussaresses was further barred from wearing his uniform and he was stripped of his Legion d'Honneur.

Knowing, as he did, the ramifications of these memoirs, why do it? Aussaresses is nothing if not candid. His "confessions" are bare of adornment and self-justification. He embellishes nothing and omits nothing, including self-incriminating statements. However, he also makes quite clear that he was acting under the direct orders of his immediate superior (General Massu) who, in turn, was acting under the direct orders of the French Government, which included Francois Mitterand (Interior Minister). The methods used in the Battle of Algiers were first tried and proven successful in Philippeville, Algeria and were conducted under specific Interior Ministry order: "Des instructions drastiques furent donnees pour ecraser la rebellion..." (Draconian measures were authorized for wiping out the rebellion).
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