A witness to the Constantine pogrom of 1934

It was a hot August day almost exactly 88 years ago that some 25 Jews were killed in  a pogrom in Constantine, Algeria. Josy Adida-Goldberg was too young to be told what was happening, but sensed that things were not right. Here is her account, from Morial, the Association representing Algerian jews in France. (With thanks: Leon)

The city of Constantine, built across a steep gorge

In my childhood, there was that terrible day of August 5, 1934.

I was five and a half years old. It was a hot summer day. We were all gathered at my grandfather’s house and Bouchareb, our trusted servant, did the shopping alone, so dangerous was it to go out into town.

Our customary car ride had been cancelled. At the time, I didn’t understand why. To the questions that we children asked – we  who were gathered at my grandfather’s house – there was only one answer: “you are too young to understand.”

When we were allowed to play, we felt we had to do it quietly. On August 5, 1934, things puzzled me. What was going on? The front door was never locked: it could  be opened only by turning the latch. It was now locked and the iron bar in place. The phone often rang in the hallway. At times, by straining our ears, we managed to catch snippets of adult conversation: basin, blood, throat cut.

Later, when I was old enough to understand, the tragedy was explained to me at length: Jewish families had been slaughtered by Arab rioters. The French government had done nothing to stop the massacre. I had been particularly struck by the murder of an entire friendly family, with the exception of an eleven-year-old child, hidden by his father in the attic of their house. Crouching  and dazed in the attic, he witnessed the killing without crying out.

Read article in full (French)

More about the Constantine pogrom


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