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2004/12/20

The 60th Anniversary Celebrations of Le Monde

As I recently wrote, Le Monde has been celebrating its 60th anniversary. In that context, it has printed 60 articles, one per day (and one for each year) for the past two months. Each of those 60th anniversary pages also included a photo from the respective year, as well as a vintage editorial taken verbatim from one particular day during the 12-month period.

Recently I wrote about the very first of these commemorative articles, which focused on the newspaper itself (i.e, on its birth). Here is a list of the rest, with comments on a dozen and a half of them…

The 60th Anniversary Celebration of Le Monde

Before we start, allow me to point out that the main headline of its very first issue (dated December 19, 1944), reads France and the USSR Have Signed a Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance… It is true that offhand, this means nothing more than simply reflecting the news of that particular day. Still, some might find it fitting… Read through the comments and decide for yourself.

(The three hyperlink-filled paragraphs that follow and that precede the comments are comprehensive lists of the articles, vintage editorials, and photo (caption)s chosen for the 60th anniversary; although they are here mainly for archival sake they are sometimes quite instructive in what was chosen — and what was not — if you are in a hurry, though, scroll down past them…)

The main (in-depth) articles have taken on the following subjects: the first issue of Le Monde, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the Nuremberg trials, the partition of India and Pakistan, the birth of Israel, the death of boxer Marcel Cerdan, the Korean War, the Schuman plan, the coronation of Elizabeth II, the death of "Marshall Stalin", the fiasco at Dien Bien Phu, oddities of the climate, the Malpassat dam disaster, Hungary's revolution put down by Soviet tanks, the Treaty of Rome, the birth of the Fifth Republic, the new franc, the Bay of Pigs, the assassination of JFK, the fall of Krushchev, the Vietnam quagmire, France's departure from NATO, the Six-Day War, May 1968, the rise of Georges Pompidou to the presidency, the death of Charles de Gaulle, Mitterrand grabbing the reins of the Socialist Party, Nixon's trip to China, the coup d'état of Chile, the decriminalization of abortion, Juan Carlos and the advent of democratic Spain, the resignation of Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, the birth of the anti-nuclear movement, the assassination of Aldo Moro, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the failure to free the US Embassy's hostages in Tehran, the election of François Mitterrand, Mexico's banking crisis, the Soviet downing of a Korean Boeing, the Bhopal tragedy, the Rainbow Warrior affair, the onset of la cohabitation, the French right's privatizations, the reelection of Mitterrand, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, France's yes in the Maastricht referendum, the suicide of former Prime Minister Bérégovoy, the Rwanda genocide, ethnic purification in Kosovo, the expulsion of the band of illegal immigrants occupying a Paris church, the cloning of Dolly, the condemnation of Maurice Papon for his WWII crimes against humanity, the antiglobalization movement's undermining of the WTO summit in Seattle, the damning videotape that accused Chirac and his ruling RPR party of fraud, the 911 attacks, Le Pen's victory in the French elections' first round, the dead in France's heat wave, and the Madrid attacks.

These in-depth articles are accompanied by reprints of vintage editorials from the respective year, with no context provided, which is important, as we will see further down. They concerned the ancestors of Le Monde, the Yalta conference, the birth of the Fourth Republic, the new communist international, the progress of communist forces in China, the Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb, Einstein's warning about the H-bomb, the assassination of Jordan's King Abdallah, gold and public loans, the execution of the Rosenbergs, the death of Matisse, natural disasters, the optimism of Krushchev, trouble in Little Rock, the return to power of General De Gaulle, Fidel Castro's "adventure without precedent", the price of independence of the African states, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis, the march of blacks for equality, the victory of Cassius Clay, De Gaulle's election win, China's cultural revolution, the military coup d'état in Greece, the Prague Spring, the race to send a man to the moon, Salvador Allende chosen president of Chile, the end of the dollar-gold conversion, the massacre at the Munich Olympics, the oil crisis, the election of Giscard d'Estaing, the 30-year war of Vietnam, the death of Mao, the fate of Germany's Baader terrorist group, the advent of John Paul II, the peace agreement between Sadat and Begin, the Polish crisis, the imposition of martial law in Poland, the Sabra and Chatilla tragedy, the Klaus Barbie trial, the birth of Canal +, the Heysel soccer stadium tragedy, ruminations on who might be the beneficiaries of terrorism against France, the anger of the Palestinian youth, the attack on the Ouvéa stronghold of New Caledonia's separatists and hostage-takers, Beijing's repression of the students on Tien An Mien square, the problem of violence in the cités, Bill Clinton's election, the case against Andreotti, the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the massive demonstrations against Alain Juppé's economic plans, science and politics, the 35-hour work-week, the assassination of Corsica's prefect, the lessons of the Kosovo conflict, the loss of the Kursk submarine, French TV's first reality show, Lula's election in Brazil, the Iraq war, and the enlargement of the European Union.

Each year's in-depth article and verbatim editorial are also accompanied by a photo; the latter show scenes from the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of Buchenwald, Jewish violence in Palestine, the creation of the Avignon theater festival, the French miners' strike, Mao's proclaiming the Popular Republic of China, Maurice Herzog's ascension of Mount Annapurna (why this Frenchman's feat is more important than Edmund Hillary's conquering Mount Everest, I cannot say), the wedding of Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, Nassar's coup in Egypt, the discovery of DNA, the plan for a European Defense Community, Citroën's ultra-modern DS car model, the Suez Canal crisis, the Nobel Prize to Albert Camus, the election of Pope John XXIII, the exile of the Dalai Lama, France's atomic bomb, the Paris demonstration against a curfew for Algerians, the burial of Edith Piaf, Jean Moulin's entombment in the Pantheon, the miniskirt, floods in Florence, the dead body of Che Guevara, the new society of Chaban-Delmas, Sihanouk's ouster from Cambodia, the independence of Bangladesh, the Biafra tragedy, the first women to graduate from the Polytechnique engineering college, the Lip factory takeover, Nixon and Watergate, the violence in Corsica, Soweto's anti-apartheid march, the case leading to the end of France's death penalty, Vietnam's boat people, Iran's Islamic revolution, the murder of John Lennon, the coup attempt in the Madrid Cortes, the birth of France's first test-tube baby (why this is more important than the world's first test-tube baby [four years earlier] I am not sure), the discovery of the AIDS virus, the mass demonstrations against the Mitterrand government's plans to abolish France's private school system, Coluche's Restos du Cœur, the Chernobyl disaster, the landing of a Cesna plane on Red Square, mob violence in Algiers, the sabotage of a French DC-10 over Africa, the desecration of Jewish tombs in Carpentras, the contaminated blood scandal, the 10th Frenchman to win a Nobel Prize in physics, the inferno at the David Koresh sect's ranch in Waco, the chunnel, the shooting of French terrorist Khaled Kelkal, the Talibans' seizure of Kabul, the meeting of Europe's new socialist prime ministers (Tony Blair and Lionel Jospin), the French soccer team's victory in the World Cup, the storm of the century, the crash of a Concorde taking off from Roissy airport, violence at the Genoa summit, the first Paris Plage, the Sars epidemic scare, and the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Needless to say, a strong anti-American flavor is present throughout the series. Going backwards in time:

Starting with Facts and Stealthily
Evolving Towards Partisan Viewpoints

In the article on Le Pen's win in the first round of France's 2002 presidential election, Hervé Gattegno shows the French aptitude to put things into perspective as he compares the "shock" of April 21 to that, in America, of… September 11 (something Plantu's cartoon did as early as the following day).

The article on 911 itself starts out in a surprisingly benign manner, with about half of the story devoted to UA flight 93, the fourth hijacked plane whose passengers decided to "roll" when they knew what fate lay in store for them. It's not unusual for a benign beginning to turn out to be a sort of "trick" to stealthily "evolve" towards more partial (read condescending) viewpoints, and Patrick Jarreau's piece is no exception: the United States discovers "its vulnerability", "the mightiest country on Earth has been shown to be at the mercy of a 'private' organization", and, of course, "the Americans have become conscious of their unpopularity" …




Because this article was so long, it was clipped. Read the article in full here (scroll down to the same red cover as the one above)

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