The miseries of liberation France 1944
Ali Diop was a pure product of the colonial school, by the yardstick of his adolescence, he attended (the hostage school of St Louis) l'Ecole des otages de St louis. A school founded in 1855, by the colonial governor Faidherbe. An enrollment, locals regarded as an affront, and a direct attack on their way of life, with a forced education.
The colonial authorities kidnapped children, interning them in schools where the parents had scarcely the right to visit them. The colonists, without asking anybody's advice, understood that they needed an elite. An educated workforce educated the European way, to supplement them in the management of their colonial empire. The children of notables such as Father Diop, superior teacher of the Koranic school of the Mourides of Dhakar -Bango, were the privileged target. Even If, after spending several years, attending the white man school, was in the habits of the most affluent citizens of cities like St Louis, it was nevertheless a challenge both for the learners who entered school, at the age of puberty, virgin of any western knowledge.
Ali Diop had been fortunate outside his maternal Dioula, to rub shoulders with foreign languages, like French, and Arabic, because of the position of his father. He was born in 1922 in Dakhar -Bango, a village located 9 kilometers from St Louis. At 10, younger than most his comrades, he began to attend the colonial school. It was necessary to get up early in the morning to cover on foot the 9 kilometers, (6 miles) that separated Bango from St Louis. A chore that had discouraged more than one, but motivated the most reckless like him.
After a certificate of aptitude for higher studies, logically he postulated a to William Ponty school of Sebikhotane, where he opted for medicine. Two years later it was the call of June 18th 1940, the metropolis was at war, it had to be defended.
Enrollment in the ranks of the army, for those who had opened to the world, through colonial education was logical. He felt himself indebted some how to France. However in reality, things were not that simple. The 350,000 Africans who helped to liberate the Western world from fascism, were not mainly volunteers. The colonial authority had used its deterrent force as usual, to furnish the ranks of its army. Many parents could not prevent their children from being recruits. Some polygamists with several sons decided simply to sacrifice one of their children, for a cause they did not know, and insisted after to be left alone, considering that they had already paid a tax by this son sent in distant lands, to fight an enemy that was said to be vicious. By simple deduction they knew that those who had succeeded, in overthrowing the terrible French colonists in their own country, could only be more terrible, and the hope of seeing their sons was slender.
Ali Diop, didn't have time to say goodbye to his parents, as he enlisted in the army. Things had gone very quickly. 3 weeks of intense training, had managed to grant him an agility in the use of weapons. However, the best of its soldier skills, he learned it on the battlefield. After years in the European hell, the white man had been demystified. He had seen misery and despair, felt the odor of death. A mixture of powder and blood that seemed to suffocate the depths of his soul. The war something horrible that even the heroic act did not obviate, in his opinion. Heroes of some, were often criminals for others.
After the landing of Provence on August 15, 1944, which followed that of Normandy on June 6, 1944, he felt that the war was coming to an end. The south of France was almost free and a good part of Italy had been taken to the Germans after epic battles of his brothers from the continent. The General Juin and his African troops had succeeded where the Anglo-American coalition had failed several times during 6 months, with a heavier artillery and aviation. They took Monté Cassino in bare hands fights. the Wehrmacht, inhibited in its racist Ideology had thought to make a bite of these exotic infantrymen. They learned it at their expense. General Juin, and his men attacked where they least expected. By the mountain. They dismantled the German garrison of General Kesselring, and opened the way to Rome, while the allied bombardments had merely destroyed the monastery, believing that the Germans were hiding there. The heroism of the African forces in the battles of Italy, was matched only by the campaign of denigration that followed them in accusations of exactions, such as the theft of cattle or the rape of Italian women. The Italians decided to turn rapists every single Moroccans, creating the neologism, marochinare (Moroccanize) that became the allegory of rape. A record that had already been heard during the resumption of Alsace Lorraine, by the African troops during the First World War.
Ali Diop was among the 53 Senegalese riflemen who had escaped from the “Frontstalag” in Lyon (Prisoner-of-war camps of all ranks, FRONTSTALAG were, in a way, real transit camps for prisoners before they were sent to the final camps in Germany) thanks to the help of a few French and Polish maquisards, they escaped and then created "the free section of the tirailleurs of the Vercors", close to the 11th cuirassier. They braved valiantly during the terrible battle of the Vercors in July 44, and contributed after, to the debarkation of Provence during the night of August, 14th 1944, cleaning the way by commando-style intrusions into the enemy's camp. On the 22nd of August, they were with their friends of the maquis to liberate Romans-sur-Isere. Their lieutenant, Samba N'Dour fell under the bullets that day.
Looking at the immensity of the damage and the pile of bodies that were gathered in the streets, Diop, a son of an Imam had a pious thought to all those dead and Lieutenant Samba. A force of nature, which courage was solely equal to his moral integrity. A contrast with the human butchery, which was lived daily. In four years, he had seen thousands of men fall to the frontline, yet death remained that enigma. He had never lived in Dakar, but during moments of respite and imprisonment, Samba, used to tell him how was life in his hometown, and in his neighborhood the Madina, where he hoped to return after the war. A return that would never happen.
Logically Diop, took command as second lieutenant. During the last days of the war, he felt that things were changing. There was an atmosphere of coldness between the Africans, and the white French and Anglo-American troops. If the people were enthusiastic and grateful to them, in many respects, it was not the same for the command of the Allied forces, who now understood that it was necessary to politicize, the final victory. At the point where they were going, he understood that France would very soon become friends with the Germany which had fought against it, even before the Africans became independent, and the influence of her American ally in her foreign policy would worsen relationships with sub-Saharan Africa, which were tense already.
In Alsace after Homeric battles, the African regiments, by orders of the American army, which at that time commanded the free forces, had been transferred to the south of France to be replaced by wholly white troops, while the bulk of the effort had been made by them. It was not necessary to give a highly conquering image of the African forces. The second armored division, an elite force commanded by General Leclerc, who entered Paris, will also be white washed by Yankees orders. More than 3500 African soldiers were returned to less prestigious infantries, or were simply demobilized in 1943. For the same racist reasons, all the Resistance fighters from the french Caribbean no less valiant, will be erased from the history of the liberation of France, and excluded from the National Council of Resistance in 1945.
However, once in the South, they still did a formidable job. Many have speculated on this African heroism; Considering that the motivation to do a clean job, was perhaps linked to the fact that they wanted to go back home as soon as possible and at the same time, they wanted to prove to the white man who had always looked down on them that they deserved better than the indigenous code. However, the main reason was in the origins. The Africans were born warriors, many descended from the great West African, Berber and Arab warriors ...
After the battle of Lyon, officially the war was over for its unity. The French territory in its almost totality was again French. While the liberation was celebrated on the avenue des champs Elysée in Paris, the African troops had been forgotten. The best place was given to America which, after taking advantage of the war by trading with the Allies as well as the Wehrmacht, whose trucks and aircraft engines were designed by Ford and General Motors, while Hitlerism was funded by the American banking circuits. The United States, had entered the war because the chances were now great for them to win and dominate the world. The Cold War did not begin after the Second World War, but during the Second World War, with strategic calculations. The world war was well named, the one that would prevail, would be the master of the world, and America understood it very quickly. Even the blood of its fallen soldiers was a calculated sacrifice. They had fallen for the greatness of America, and not for the defense of the ideals of freedom and fraternity. It was impossible, he thought, that a segregated America should be able to embrace the values of freedom of justice and fraternity.
During the rare moment of respite, he had studied the adversaries, recovering everything he could find on them. During the long siege of Alsace, he had learned German and from time to time, listened to programs of German radios. Despite the propaganda, he had succeeded often to learn important lessons. The Germans often gave a better description, of the mentality of the Anglo-American allied forces.
While traveling to Le Havre where he would take the boat that would take them back home, he could not help thinking that the war, which had just ended, would be an opportunity for some, and the Africans, despite all the blood, shed, to liberate a country which refused to consider them as equal men, would gain nothing. The essential thing for them would be to take the destiny of their countries at hand, to work for their freedom, France owes them that, at least. It was inadmissible that, having liberated the colonists from the barbarism of their Germanic brother, these same colonists would continue to dehumanize them in the hell of colonialism, legalized by the indigenous code.
In Le Havre, he noticed with some bitterness that the American liberators, were beginning to behave like the Germans during the occupation. The racism of France had brought America to the skies; Sacrificing, the sacrifice of African forces, on the altar of white supremacy. However, in this white supremacy scheme, America seemed to have taken the best of France, and especially of the French women, whom GI’s tumbled as they wanted, where they wanted. The complaints and supplications of the mayor of the city, to the American authorities did not change anything. It was readily said that if during the war, it was necessary to hide the men, during the liberation, it was necessary to hide the women who were considered as spoils of war of the victors.
The misery of the postwar period did not help either. Women reduced to begging, did not hesitate to open the legs for the 4 C. chocolate, cigarette, chewing gum, Coca cola. It was better to be a whore for the Yankees, than a whore having slept with the German soldiers; Because the witch-hunt made these women the expiatory victims of a France and its allies, who had found nothing better than to mow the skull of these donzelles and walk them naked in the streets before being sometimes Executed in a summary manner. There was fear in the city in France, the freed cities became cruel cities. A well-founded or misleading denunciation could send you to the firing squad.
Ali Diop, Had understood while browsing a copy of the review of the US Army Stars and Stripes, that the operation of Normandy had been presented to the American GIs, as an erotic adventure, where the survivors would receive the body of naughty French women, whom years of war, had deprived of lust. The rapes became commonplace, the situation became so serious that the famous Franco-American friendship, took some severe blows. Something had to be done, to save the face. And as usual the scapegoat was found. While the Moroccan troops had already been accused of rapes in Italy, facts which were proved less true than propaganda. In France, expeditious trial on the question of rape took place.
Of the 156 convicted rape cases tried by the US court martial, 132 were black soldiers. During the war they were with a few exceptions as the Tuskedee airmen, confined to menial tasks such as the supply and logistical maintenance of white soldiers. The "GI's Jody" as they were called, underwent segregation in a violent manner. The unwritten laws of the deep south that stated that blacks should never touch white woman applied without mercy. The only clemency that the commanders of the American army found was not to have these blacks executed, by the guillotine, which remained the only mode of execution in France since the revolution until 1977, with the abolition of the death penalty , which took place in 1981 under the presidency of François Mitterrand. Ironically the last man to be executed by the guillotine was an African from Tunisia. Hamida Djandoubi had been convicted of the murder of his French concubine. The American commanders, judging the guillotine too messy, called from the United States, an executioner specialist in hanging as in the lynching of the south. While in France, the Americans were stretching their legs, refusing to hand over authority to France beating currency and controlling the economy, and administration, some agreed to put the hat of the horrors of liberation, on a Foreign race. On the other side, Puritan America, washed their hands, passing over to the scaffold black soldiers, whom some had been unfortunate enough to think that, since they were Americans, they could also allow themselves discrepancies like white soldiers. Tacitly, France and her American ally decided to clarify their misunderstandings by whacking the Negro. Their mutual respect was equaled only by the equally mutual disdain of the so-called black race. The events of Thiaroye a few months later, when African soldiers were massacred for having dared to ask their arrears of Balances, to the colonial empire, were only going to confirm, what the African soldiers already knew, at the end of the Second World War. As during slavery, and during the conflict for world hegemony, they had simply been used as cannon fodder, the gloriole or the nest egg, for service rendered, was out of question.
Ali Diop, escaped the carnage of Thiaroye for the sole reason that he had demobilized, to return to medical school. It was better to help save lives than destroy them.