Reviewed by Yannick Cormier (Université de Montréal)
Published on H-War (April, 2009)
Commissioned by Janet G. Valentine (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College - Dept of Mil Hist)
由Janet G. Valentine委托（美国陆军司令部和总参谋部 - 军事历史部）
The Unknown Massacres: Black French Prisoners in 1940
Historically speaking, the Holocaust, and the Nazi mass exterminations and atrocities committed in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1945 have always received more attention than other crimes that took place during the Second World War.
For instance, a long-forgotten fact was the various massacres of African French war prisoners during the German invasion of France in May and June 1940, when German soldiers randomly executed black Tirailleurs Sénégalais.
Raffael Scheck, professor of modern history at Colby College, recently wrote on this in Hitler’s African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940.
This book presents an interesting account of these events, and provides a fair analysis of the causes and motivations of the perpetrators.
In four detailed chapters, Scheck presents an overview of the massacres of black French Colonial Troops, the number of victims( 1,500 to3,000), as well as the military events that led to them.
In order to illuminate the motivations that led the German invaders randomly to murder so many black war prisoners, chapters 2 and 3 give an overall analysis of a problematic that seemed unanswerable in this particular case: why did this happen?
Chapter 4 takes a look at the implications of such events, and it integrates those atrocities into the gradual barbarization process of the German Wehrmacht that took place between 1939 and 1945.
In 1940, the French army included more than 100,000 black French soldiers from France’s African colonies, mainly Senegal, Mauritania,and Niger.
More than 75,000 of them served in France before and during the German invasion; the rest of them served guard duty in the various colonies.
As the Wehrmacht panzer divisions swept across France in May-June 1940, some of those black French soldiers (about 40,000 of them), mainly organized in black regiments or mixed units, were engaged in fierce combat against German soldiers.
About 10,000 black soldiers were killed, some wounded, and others taken prisoner during the French debacle.
Scheck states that between 1,500 to 3,000 black French prisoners of war were massacred throughout the campaign, either during or after combat.。
Generally speaking, Tirailleurs Sénégalais were treated differently from other war prisoners by the victorious army.
The existence of a well-implanted anti-black racism and stereotypes among the German soldiers frequently resulted in the black French troops being separated from other prisoners of war.
Fear of coupes-coupes (a hand-to-hand weapon used by the Tirailleurs Sénégalais that German soldiers considered a treacherous weapon), latent desire for revenge because of German losses, or simple racism, resulted in random massacres of black French war prisoners by members of the Wehrmacht.
The author’s investigation of what caused the slaughters is also interesting.
Scheck gives a precise account of those situational factors and links them well to ideological ones, stating that racist Nazi indoctrination and stereotypes must be fully integrated into the chaotic context of fighting in order to explain the massacres.
He remarks that there were no clear governmental or military orders authorizing such criminal behavior toward specific groups of prisoners of war in 1940.
In fact, many of those atrocities were committed by heavily indoctrinated elite Wehrmacht,or Nazi military units like the SS Totenkopf, or the Gross Deutschland.
事实上，其中许多暴行都是由严密灌输的德国精英国防军，或像SS Totenkopf（党卫或军），或者德意志总会这样的纳粹军事单位犯下的。 Those troops were already (or would be, along with others, later on) held responsible for racist behavior and excesses, as well as mass murders during May-June 1940. 。
Scheck avoids overall generalization on what happened to those prisoners by discussing the random character and inconsistency of the massacres. 。
Readers quickly understand that not all black French war prisoners were executed, and that some German or French officers even managed to prevent such events from occurring
In fact, the treatment of imprisoned black French soldiers actually improved after the May-June 1940 campaign, especially in prisoner of war camps.