Tagged on the Saint-Michel Bridge in 1961: “Ici on noie les Algériens” (“Here we drown Algerians”). Dozens of bodies were later pulled from the River Seine
The Paris massacre of 1961 was a massacre in Paris on 17 October 1961, during the Algerian War (1954–62). Under orders from the head of the Parisian police, Maurice Papon, the French police attacked a forbidden demonstration of some 30,000 pro-FLN Algerians. Two months before, FLN had decided to increase the bombing in France and to resume the campaign against the pro-France Algerians and the rival Algerian nationalist organization called MNA in France. After 37 years of denial, in 1998 the French government acknowledged 40 deaths, although there are estimates of over 200.
The 17 October 1961 massacre appears to have been intentional, as has been demonstrated by historian Jean-Luc Einaudi, who won a trial against Maurice Papon in 1999 — the latter was convicted in 1998 on charges of crimes against humanity for his role under the Vichy collaborationist regime during World War II. Official documentation and eyewitnesses within the Paris police department indeed suggest that the massacre was directed by Maurice Papon. Police records show that Papon called for officers in one station to be ‘subversive’ in quelling the demonstrations, and assured them protection from prosecution if they participated. Many demonstrators died when they were violently herded by police into the River Seine, with some thrown from bridges after being beaten unconscious. Other demonstrators were killed within the courtyard of the Paris police headquarters after being arrested and delivered there in police buses. Officers who participated in the courtyard killings took the precaution of removing identification numbers from their uniforms, while senior officers ignored pleas by other policemen who were shocked when witnessing the brutality. Silence about the events within the police headquarters was further enforced by threats of reprisals from participating officers.