Allison Drew
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The nation in formation
Communists and nationalists during the Second World War
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Algeria’s close geographic proximity to war-torn Europe meant that war-time conditions debilitated the tiny PCA, which was illegal from September 1939 until July 1943. As the war unfolded, and especially under the Vichy regime, the public political space that had opened up during the Popular Front period contracted. The PCA’s policy on independence changed substantially over the war years. From September 1939 until June 1941, the Comintern saw the war as the product of inter-imperialist rivalry. The PCA called for independence as a means of weakening French imperialism. But from June 1941, and especially after Algiers became the capital of Free France, French Communists succeeded once more in promoting their agenda within the diminished PCA, prioritising the anti-fascist struggle over independence. The PCF’s key role in the anti-fascist struggle meant that it emerged strengthened from the war. By contrast, the PCA’s back-pedalling on independence and its vitriol against organisations that rejected its priorities led Algerian nationalists to view it with suspicion and mistrust.

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We are no longer in France

Communists in Colonial Algeria


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