Paris (Aug. 24)
Among dramatic accounts by eye-witnesses and victims of what took place on August 5 and 6 in several Algerian towns, when forty-six Jews were slain by Moslem fanatics, is the story of how the head of the prominent Halimi family perished.
(Two Arabs confessed on August 30 to have murdered all members of the family, who resided on the Rue des Zoua### in Constantine).
Alphonse Halimi, when he heard the mob storming his home, attempted to telephone police but received no reply, according to the account. He then called his brother.
“They are coming upstairs,” he said into the phone. “They are trying to break the door. Here they are!”
The conversation was cut short at this point. Later he and all his immediate kin in the house were found either stabbed or shot to death.
Two nights before the massacres began, according to official records, an intoxicated Jewish soldier of the Third Zouave Regiment, stationed in Constantine, invaded a mosque and blasphemed the Mohammedan religion. Members of the congregation beat him and ejected him from the house of worship. Although this incident has been credited with having been the inciting cause of what occurred later, observers said they did not believe the incident had any connection with the subsequent pogroms.
French authorities, who appeared unaware of the imminence of the two-day massacre, were unable to cope with it until soldiers arrived, observers said. Subsequently 300 men were arrested and held for trial.
The following paragraphs con##in a compilation of reliable reports of what actually happened during the outbreaks.
At about 10 o’clock on the night of August 3 from 300 to 400 Arabs suddenly poured into the city of Constantine from the Arab town, all armed with sticks and knives.
Feeble police efforts to halt them were unavailing. Apparently well organized, they first attacked and seriously wounded Leonce Bensimon, brother of Lucien Bensimon, a prominent Constantine Jewish attorney.
Thereafter, for almost two hours, the city was completely at the mercy of the Moslem mob. At midnight police reserves who finally had been called out cleared the streets.
A Jewish youth who attempted to frighten off the Arabs by firing revolver shots into the air was among the first arrested, it is charged.
On the following day Constantine appeared to have resumed its normal existence. Jewish and Moslem leaders conferred and agreed to cooperate for the maintenance of order.
While this meeting was taking place, however, a spirit of unrest hovered over the Arab quarters. Open air and private sessions were held throughout the day and men rushed about, distributing sticks, knives and firearms. Moslems deserted the city and the Jewish quarter and remained within the native town.
At about 9:30 on the morning of August 5, all Moslem shops closed. Half an hour later an outcry arose from the Arab quarter and a crowd of several thousand Arabs burst out from the Moslem town and rushed toward the city. It was a well organized army of fanatic Moslems, armed with razors, daggers, knives and revolvers. Children were carrying stones and sticks. Their aim was to slay all Jews. Sacking came about later, and was contrary to the aims of the leaders of the mob.
The crowd rushed up Viviani avenue. An unidentified Jew was murdered in Place Lamorici#re. At National street military were barring the way, Pogromists were approaching soldiers, clamoring, “Slay the Jews.” The commander decided to clear out from the path of the mob rather than risk a charge.
At Germon street, pogromists set fire to the house of Elie Gozland and to that of Tenoudji. They captured two Jewish merchants, Maurice and Gilbert Dadoun, and cut their throats. A girl typist was also slain.
The entire family of a veteran Zionist worker, Attali, was murdered. Auselia Attali asked the pogromists to kill her but spare her father. Her throat was cut and her body was thrown out of the window.
The murderous mob continued its march. More Jews were slain. At nightfall troops and police come from neighboring cities, called out by the mayor, who learned of the trouble at a sea-side resort.
On the morning of August 6 things became quieter. But in spite of troops some further murders were committed. New houses were burned. A Moslem pogromist who attempted to break into a Jewish house was shot dead.