Henri Alleg died on July 17, 2013 in Paris , Born on20 July 1921 in London, he was a French-Algerian journalist, member of the Communist Party and former head of the newspaper Alger Republicain. He is the author of key text on the Algerian struggle ‘The Question’
Born in London to Russian-Polish Jewish parents Henri Alleg moved to Algeria from Paris in 1939 and was active in the Algerian Communist Party. In 1946, he married the communist militant Gilberte Serfaty . In 1951, he became director of the daily Alger Republican. He went into hiding in 1955, after the paper was banned. Material continued to be published in the PCF daily l’Humanite.
He was arrested June 12, 1957 by French paratroopers, at the home of Maurice Audin, his friend, who was arrested the day before and who died under torture.
Hneri Alleg was jailed and torrured, drugged with pentothal used as a “truth serum”. French military commader General Massu, later admitted the use of torture during the war in Algeria. R
He was then transferred to Camp Lodi (Draa Essamar Wilaya de Medea) where he stayed for a month, then Barbarossa, the civil prison in Algiers. In prison, he wrote The Question, concealing the written pages and passing them on to his lawyers.
Realising that he would not break under torture or give up his comrades the French military released him to prison hospital.
In The Question, he tells his period of detention and abuse suffered during the war of Algeria. First published in France by Editions de Minuit, the book was immediately banned. It was republished in Switzerland, fourteen days after the ban in France in March 1958. Despite its ban in France, the book contributesspectatcularly revealed the use of torture in Algeria by the Fren ch colonial authorities. Its illegal distribution amounted to 150,000 copies.
Three years after his arrest, he was charged with “acting against the external security of the State” and “reconstituting a dissolved organisation” and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Transferred to France, he was imprisoned in Rennes. During a stay in a hospital, he escaped and aided by communist militants, he found refusge in Czechoslovakia.
He returned to France after the Evian agreements, then to Algeria, where he participated in the revival of Alger Republicain newspaper.
Declared “Persona non grata” in Algeria following the coup by Houari Boumedienne, he moved back to France in 1965.
The documentary film by Jean-Pierre Lledo ‘Algerian Dream’ recounts his return 40 years later in Algeria tto a welcome with open arms and where he finds happiness with his former comrades.
In 2005, he co-wrote a letter to the President of the Republic, calling on the French government to recognize the abandonment of harkis (Algerians who left for France on independence in 1962.)
Well respected in communist circles and a regular at the book fair of the La fete de l’Humanite he was a member of the Pôle de renaissance communiste en France and a long time critic of the “social-democratic drift of the French Communist Party
He is also board member of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
Henri Alleg is the father of John Salem.
He died July 17, 2013.