Jewish leaders during the Franco-Algerian War (1954–1962) drastically changed their statements on Jewish-Algerian identity, history, and status. Below, we examine this shift by analyzing their statements about Adolphe Crémieux, the namesake of the decree that gave Algerian Jews French citizenship in 1870. Between 1954 and 1962, Jewish leaders went from adulation to dismissal as they discussed the man and his legacy. Analyzing statements about Crémieux brings into sharp relief the Jews’ legal situation in Algeria, which arbitrarily changed at certain moments. A look at these statements also reveals the instability of the French colonial system in Algeria. The first part of this article argues that the Crémieux Decree—already fundational to Jewish-Algerian identity—took on a new importance after the Second World War into the 1950s. The second part looks at reversals in attitudes toward Crémieux a few years later.
Jessica Hammerman is writing a book about Algerian Jews during decolonization. Her research interests include Jews and Muslims in twentieth-century Europe and Jews in the Islamic World. She is currently Assistant Professor of World History at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org