This book discusses the experience of nearly 100,000 French colonial prisoners of war captured by Nazi Germany during World War II. Raffael Scheck shows that the German treatment of French colonial soldiers improved dramatically after initial abuses, leading the French authorities in 1945 to believe that there was a possible German plot to instigate a rebellion in the French empire. Scheck illustrates that the colonial prisoners' contradictory experiences with French authorities, French civilians, and German guards created strong demands for equal rights at the end of the war, leading to clashes with a colonial administration eager to reintegrate them into a discriminatory routine.
Raffael Scheck is Katz Distinguished Teaching Professor of Modern European History at Colby College. He is the author of five books and more than twenty articles on German history ranging from 1871 to 1945. In 2006, Scheck published the book Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940 (Cambridge University Press, 2006), which also appeared in French and German. The German edition was selected as the fourth best nonfiction book published in German in 2009 by a group of editors and journalists. He completed a habilitation at the University of Basel in 2003.
Introduction: a soldier's story; 1. The start of captivity; 2. The colonial prisoners in Franco-German diplomacy; 3. The German treatment of the colonial prisoners in France; 4. French guards for colonial prisoners; 5. German propaganda for Muslim prisoners; 6. The labor of colonial prisoners; 7. The physical and mental state of the prisoners; 8. Human relations: co-prisoners and civilians; 9. Colonial prisoners and the end of the war; Conclusions.