This article discusses the “underground networks”, the right of French students to refuse call-up, the “Treason Trials” and the support for resistance to the Algerian War among the Left.
“Our aim was to use this Tribunal . . . the best platform we have ever been offered, to announce to the whole of France the birth of a new Resistance in this country, to expose its motives and to administer the proof that we were not alone.”
Francis Jeanson, accused of being the leader of an underground network to aid the FLN, thus expressed his views to a Tunisian journalist.
After seven months in “preventive detention”, the seventeen men and women who had been arrested in February were tried on the charge of helping the Algerian National Liberation Front and of encouraging young recruits to reject the Algerian War by deserting from the French Army. Thus the Régime opened a Political Trial of major importance, and touched the one issue capable of transforming the political life of France: Algeria.
It took two years of Gaullism for France to pronounce the word “self-determination”. Cautiously, the General whispered “integration” but never aloud; “Algérie, Terre Française” came next; finally, “Algérie Algérienne”. But nothing changed. The war went on. One day France was told that Peace was near; a few months later, it was promised a “long and difficult war”. The clock of the Algerian War stood permanently at “the last quarter of an hour”. These hesitations, the failure of the Melun negotiations with the FLN, the cynicism of the President’s Press Conferences, the inability of the Government to carry out its declared policy, show up the paralysing contradiction between the need of France for Peace and the pressure from Algiers for war.