Jacques Soustelle

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 11 11:04:21 MDT 2001

[Thanks to PEN-L'er Colin Danby for bringing to my attention that Jacques
Soustelle, author of a sensitive book on the Aztecs, was much less
sensitive when it came to the people of Algeria. He became, despite his
earlier leftwing associations, a leader of the terrorist, quasi-fascist OAS.]

The Washington Post, August 8, 1990, Wednesday, Final

Jacques Soustelle Dies;  Served in French Cabinet

PARIS -- Jacques Soustelle, 78, a former cabinet minister who clashed with
Gen. Charles de Gaulle over the Algerian conflict, died on Aug. 7 in the
Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. The cause of death was not reported.

A distinguished anthropologist noted for his study of pre-Colombian
culture, Mr. Soustelle was named to the prestigious Academie Francaise in
1983 for his studies outlined in such books as "Life of the Aztecs" and
"The Maya Civilization."

Jacques Emile Soustelle was born in the southern French town of Montpellier
Feb. 3, 1912, the son of a Protestant railway worker. He studied letters at
the Ecole Normale Superieure. A brilliant student, he became a world-class
expert in anthropology and ethnology, principally that of Latin and Central
America, where he was in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II.

Strongly opposed to fascism, he was among the first to rally to de Gaulle's
appeal on June 18, 1940, from London to fight the Vichy government that
collaborated with Nazi Germany. Mr. Soustelle became chief of the Free
French force's secret service.

After the liberation of France in 1944, Mr. Soustelle served as minister of
information and later minister of colonies. In 1955, he was appointed
governor-general of Algeria by Premier Pierre Mendes-France.

The appointment of an intellectual with known left-wing sympathies caused
trepidation in Algeria's European settler community, which was engaged in a
bloody struggle with the anti-colonial National Liberation Front (FLN).

But to their surprise, Mr. Soustelle soon declared independence would be a
disaster both for Algeria and France. He became popular among the "colons"
and was withdrawn by the Socialist government in 1956.

De Gaulle returned to power in 1958 as the Algerian war threatened to tear
France apart. Mr. Soustelle again became minister of information and later
a deputy foreign minister.

The crowning moment of his career came on June 4, 1958, when he stood with
de Gaulle before a delirious crowd of settlers in the French North African
possession as the general told them: "Je vous ai compris." ("I have
understood you")

By the end of 1959, however, de Gaulle had decided to let Algeria go, and
Mr. Soustelle quit the government, saying he could not "make a deal with

He joined the OAS secret army in 1962. It conducted a campaign of
assassination and sabotage in a bid to keep Algeria French. Mr. Soustelle
was charged on Sept. 22, 1962, with "attempts against the state." The same
year, renegade army officers tried to assassinate de Gaulle for giving
Algeria independence.

He spent six years in exile. In 1968, after a political amnesty, he
returned to France and resumed his academic and political career. He met
with little political success. Increasingly, he devoted himself to his
scholarly interests, becoming president of the Center Universitaire European.

Louis Proyect
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