Mabon, Armelle
January 2006
French Colonial History;2006, Vol. 7, p181
Academic Journal
After the fall of France in June 1940, over a million soldiers from the French army were taken prisoner. While the combatants from France were sent to Germany, soldiers from the colonies were dispersed to Frontstalags throughout occupied France. In April 1941, there were close to 70,000 colonial soldiers in 22 Frontstalags. Because of the French location of their detention, they had significant contacts with both the occupiers and the local population. Some of them were eventually sent to southern France for health reasons, and others would escape to join the Resistance. At the end of the war, there were 30,000 men left. In January 1943, at the request of the Germans, the Vichy government agreed to replace the German sentinels with French ones. The colonial prisoners felt betrayed, not for the last time. After the Liberation, the return of former colonial prisoners to their homelands was often marked by incidents, some serious and deadly, like the one in Thiaroye near Dakar in December 1944. Such events were characterized by a denial of justice and equality that contrasted starkly with colonial expectations for political reform.


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