Help for families of Algerian War’s ‘disappeared’

Josette Audin (seated) with Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë at the inauguration of Place Maurice Audin in 2004

Researcher Malika Rahal tells The Connexion how a President’s visit to a victim’s wife finally opened doors to a dark period in modern French history

In 1957, a 25-year-old French woman with three children living in Algiers watched as her husband was taken away by the French Army during the Algerian war.

She never saw him again.

Josette Audin was repeatedly told by French authorities that her husband, Maurice, had escaped from a prison camp. She was, however, convinced he had been killed in captivity. 

In September 2018, President Macron visited Mrs Audin, then 87, at her home in Paris. He told her that the State was responsible for her husband’s death. The precise details remain unclear, but Maurice had been tortured to death or had been executed after being tortured.

The President said he wanted the national archives to be opened up, so that families could get answers. Mrs Audin did not live to find out what happened to her husband. She died five months later, in February 2019.

Maurice and Josette Audin’s story is just one of thousands. The website  has been set up by two historians to find out who else disappeared in this period of France’s history.


Can you explain more about the life of Mrs Audin?

Historian Malika Rahal, who is trying to uncover the stories of Algeria’s ‘disappeared’

Malika Rahal: Her tale is the story of someone who was French and who grew up in Algiers and who married another French person, Maurice Audin.

Both were on the side of Algerian independence and chose to become Algerian, which distinguished them from the rest of the French population living in Algeria.

In the process of struggling for independence, her husband was taken by the French paratroopers and became one of the numerous people who were the so-called “disappeared”.

Her life was transformed. From then on, it revolved entirely around this event as she struggled for some kind of recognition and explanation of what had happened ...

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