Blanchiment "whitening" of the Free French Forces

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Event #3962 Blanchiment "whitening" of the Free French Forces
Start Date: Sep 1944
End Date: Oct 1944
Colonial troops are often discarded by their masters when this is expedient. This was the case in late 1944, when De Gaulle did not want France to be perceived as dependent for its victory on non-white colonial subjects.

When victory was close for the Free French forces de Gaulle ordered a “whitening” of the troops and replaced 20,000 Africans at the front with white Frenchmen.

The African servicemen were grouped in French centers to await the journey back home. However, they faced discriminatory treatment, and shortages of food, shelter, and other resources. In December of 1944 a protest at a camp in Thiaroye in Senegal involving the first group of ex-POWS to be sent back to West Africa resulted in 35 Africans killed, hundreds wounded, and many sentenced to jail terms. This protest, sometimes known as the “Thiaroye Massacre,” stemmed from French mistreatment and failure to provide back pay.

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