Naivete could be defined in several ways. It could mean innocence, gullibility, inexperience or simplicity. In terms of inexperience, yes, Henri Alleg and his friends were naive. However, no one can say they are innocent or gullible. Although, he had no sufficient resources and contacts, he understood the importance of anonymity. They realized the consequences of his actions. He and his team took precautions. He was, in fact aware of the insufficiency of his plan and resources. Nonetheless, Alleg acknowledged that ‘Adding to my ignorance, it did not permit me to grasp the extreme complexity of the situation” .
Henri Alleg lived in World War II Algeria that was brimming with tension. Every one could easily be considered a traitor. The French Legionnaire was fanatical in its duty to spot any nationalists or traitors . Amid the setting of war, the Algerian Muslims, represented by Ferhat Abbas presented the French Administration with a Manifesto, containing an Algerian Constitution that would guarantee immediate and effective political participation and legal equality for Muslims . Not surprising, it was rejected by the French government, resulting to heavy dissatisfaction, consummating into riots where thousands of Muslims died and injured.
To impose its political will, the French used force to squelch down any movement towards independence. Torture was primarily used to induce confessions from those suspected of Communist and anti-colonial perspectives. According to Henri Alleg, concentration camps were set up, according to the expedited policy of the Oran police that it is more convenient to imprison the alleged traitors rather than to spend effort watching them . When Nazi Germany defeated France, a Vichy government was set up. In Algeria, the Vichy government was cynical and brutal.
At such time, the Communist Party was an active protagonist against the Vichy regime. However, since the Nazi attack of the June 1941 against the Soviet Union, the Communists felt it had a more pressing obligation: that of fighting against a Nazi Germany and preventing the victory of fascism and its racist and slave thesis . Alleg, in the meantime believed that somebody had to keep the fire burning against the Vichy government. There was no conflict between the loyalties of Alleg’s group and the Communists. The latter simply had to adjust its priorities as to the damage wrought.
For them, the greater evil was the Nazi Germany, who if successful, would pose danger not only to Algeria but also to the rest of the world. This is understandable. For the Communists, it was a fight between ideals. For Alleg, it was for independence. Despite its pressing obligation, the Communists still desired independence for Algeria. Cooperating with France to defeat Nazi Germany is not inconsistent with its fight for independence with Alleg. In fact, they see the end of fascism as a step towards the freedom of colonized nations .
Nevertheless, no concrete efforts were actually made by the Communist to aid France, a clear indication of hostility. Thus, as Alleg and his companions assumed the responsibility of campaigning against the Vichy regime under the Communist name, they were in constant danger from the Vichy police. Arrests and repression still run high. Torture was still used as a mode of inducing the names of other Communist and Renaissance members. Other times, a trial ensued and those convicted was condemned to force labor . Prisons became so packed, that being imprisoned seems like the punishment itself.
Based on his actions, Alleg and his companions could not be considered as terrorists. Terrorism is the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear for bringing about political change . Alleg merely initiated and distributed flyers condemning the activities of the Vichy regime . Terrorism is usually resorted to by small groups of individuals, limited firepower and few resources. They mean to sow panic and to undermine the confidence of the people in the government. Alleg did not resort to violence; In one perspective, it seems the most peaceful way of staging a political protest.
Another point to be taken consideration is that France is considered by most Algerians as an invader. Questions as to its governmental legitimacy could be raised. Thus, any actions of protest against it, including the acts of Alleg and his companions could be considered as justified. The Algerian Communist Party’s objectives focused mainly on the denunciation of the Vichy regime, of Nazism and the need for the mobilization of all forces at the side of the USSR, the Allies and the French Resistance against Nazi Germany. It was repeatedly cleared that the fight against fascism would ultimately lead for the independence of colonial peoples.
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