Monitor: French opinion on Lionel Jospin's decision to pardon First World War mutineers
Wednesday 11 November 1998
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.
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.
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