Hommage to Pierre Ghenassia

'En Hommage a Pierre Ghenassia', commemorating a young Jewish communist who died in Algeria's struggle for independence, was first published in the Algerian daily 'El Watan' in 2008. The writer, Mohammed Rebah, quotes a veteran liberation fighter who paying tribute to Ghenassia, said he wanted to answer those who claimed there was an inevitable antagonism between those of different religious origins.

In tribute to Pierre Ghenassia, Algerian Jewish communist schoolboy, who died on February 22, 1957 for the independence of his country
Source: El Watan (Algerian daily) February 4, 2008
At a time when the Conservative Liberals make  the "clash of civilizations," the framework for understanding contemporary times, the figure of a youth  like Peter Ghenassia deserves not to be forgotten.

Death in action February 22, 1957

A former student of the Bugeaud school (now Lycée Emir Abdelkader), Pierre Ghenassia  was not yet 17 when in May 1956 he joined the National Liberation Army (NLA) in the Ténès area, his hometown.

He wouldd fall in battle on February 22 1957, in the Jebel Beni Salah, southwest of Chréa in the Blida Atlas, during the bombardment by the French army of an NLA infirmary in Douar Beni Annes on the right bank of wadi Merdja. Before joining the maquis, he was first part of the network "The Soldier's Voice" directed by Lucien Hanoun, French teacher, member of the Algerian Communist Party (PCA).

Pierre Ghenassia was also in contact with Raymond Hannon whom he had known in the Algerian Democratic Youth Union (UJDA). Raymond Hannon, who knew the leader of the  Miliana maquis, was to be transferred to the maquis to be executive secretary of the regional leader, but he was arrested by the police. Following the arrest, Peter Ghenassia went into hiding and joined the Ténès maquis organized by Rabah Benhamou, a member of the PCA..

Pierre Ghenassia, descendant of a Jewish family in Tetouan (his great-grandfather was a rabbi) was born on July 24 at Tenes. His father, Roger Ghenassia, was an official of the tax administration and mother, Nedjma Bensaid, owner of a jewelry shop in Ténès. They had  a neighbor, Dr. Jean Masseboeuf who was instrumental in the formation of the Ténès maquis. Arrested for his activities, Dr. Masseboeuf was sentenced to forced labor by the French military court.

In his book-testimony  "We were called Fellaghas", the Azzedine Commander speaks movingly of Peter Ghenassia. "Among them (the men in white), one of the most endearing figures was that of our zonal nurse Hajj. We called him so, but his real name was Ghenassia. He was Jewish and spoke very good Arabic. For all those who take as an established fact the alleged antagonism of our religious backgrounds, I would like them to know: Hajj died, refusing to abandon his wounded."

Pierre Ghenassia died for the independence of Algeria, mixing his blood with that of other young students of his age, also fell in battle, such as Nour Eddine Bencherchali Blida.  A street Ténès, his hometown, bore the name of Peter Ghenassia, following independence, but malicious spirits, installed in 1990 at the PCA Ténès, erased his name from the plate and replaced it - cynically - with  El Quds.  Veterans of the ALN were offended.

Rebah Mohamed El Watan, February 24, 2008
(translated from the Parti de Gauche Midi-Pyrennees website, February 22. 2014,

Posted: 1 January 2015