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Monitor: French opinion on Lionel Jospin's decision to pardon First World War mutineers

THEIR MEMORY deserves better than this mediocre display. The Chemin des Dames mutineers, already imprisoned in history, have now been taken hostage by polemic and snagged by [the cross-party] cohabitation. Jospin gave homage to the men who were gunned down "to be made examples of" to the soldiers who, exhausted by their useless attacks, stood up against orders which were sheer madness - to the soldiers who were willing to fight but unwilling to commit suicide. Jospin's initiative was welcomed by the French who had learned from school that these men were not mutineers, but rather martyrs. By judging Jospin's remarks as inopportune, Chirac has committed a crass mistake for a state leader to make: that of not understanding the French.

Le Journal du Dimanche

BETTER LATE than never: official France has begun to recognise that our official national history does not necessarily correspond with the truth. But we must continue this work on our memories and collective identity. Other taboos still lurk which have not yet been shattered. Massacres of civilians by the French army at Setif and Madagascar after the Second World War; systematic torture during the war in Algeria. There is clearly a lot of ground to cover before France can make peace with its past.

Le Monde

WAS IT "inopportune" to recall this truth on the eve of Armistice? Should Jospin have waited until 12 November or 1 April to allude to it? Is Armistice a chance for us to exalt our courageous soldiers of yesteryear or a time to reflect, with a minimum of dignity, on the shortsightedness and stupidity of humankind and to pay homage to all those who suffered because of it? Who can be sure? Are we in danger that our leaders since the Sixties have been gargling on the grandeur and wealth of the Franco-German alliance? We condemn the untimely intervention of Chirac in questions of this genre. The collective memory does not belong solely to the President but, by definition, to all of us.