Mémoire algérienne is an exceptional testimony on the political movements and on the social climate in Algeria on the eve of independence and an essential contribution to our understanding of these dark, blazing moments of our history. It is also a homage to the companions of struggle. Henri Alleg is eighteen when he discovers colonial Algeria in 1939. On the occasion of what was planned as nothing more than a stopover in the course of a trip across the world, Alleg ends up forming bonds with young communists and Algerian pro-independence militants. He thus becomes involved with the antifascist struggle and fought against the German invasion until the allied landing of 1942. After the liberation, he joins the communist youths and becomes a member of the central committee of the Algerian communist party. In 1951, he is appointed to the post of director of the Alger répuplicain. This popular journal, claiming to be the voice of the Algerian revolution, is banned in 1955. The same year, a state decree bans the Algerian communist party and repression intensifies. Henri Alleg is arrested in June 1957. Accused of plotting against state security, he is imprisoned in Alger. In prison, he writes La Question, a work of historical significance, in which he describes the torture to which he was subjected. Published by the Éditions de Minuit in 1958, the book quickly falls under the French censorship.
Born in England, from a Jewish family with Russian and Polish roots, Henri Alleg spent his childhood and teenage years in Paris. He gained the Algerian nationality for his role in the defence of the country. Forced to leave Algeria after the Front de libération nationale’s coup, he remains a passionate and engaged observer of his country’s history.