Al Jazeera World

Letters of Love, Letters of War: Algeria’s war for independence

Algerian resistance fighters wrote heartfelt letters home in the 1950s. Few arrived but many remained unseen, until now.

Algeria lived under French colonial rule for 132 years, from 1830 to 1962. Letters and correspondence provided evidence of Algeria’s long struggle to end French colonial rule in the 1950s. They enabled resistance fighters to send news to their families back home. Also, they offered a means for Algeria’s nationalist political party, the FLN or National Liberation Front, to communicate secretly with its people on the ground.

In 2011, historian Malika El Korso discovered a handwritten letter in a French archive. In it, written by 19-year-old Hassiba Ben Bouali while she was in the Algerian resistance, the young fighter expresses her love for her family, her unyielding determination to free her homeland and the pain of separation from her family. Three weeks later, Hassiba was killed in the Battle of Algiers.

A soldier, Colonel Lotfi, sent a farewell letter to his wife two weeks before he was killed in a fierce battle and Ahmed Zabana wrote to his parents only a few hours before he was executed by guillotine.

The film Letters of Love, Letters of War uncovers long-hidden secrets and moving personal testimonies of men and women who fought for Algerian independence in the 1950s.