Africa in World War II: The Forgotten Veterans
More than a million African soldiers fought for colonial powers in World War II. Few of them understood why. Survivors received little compensation and veterans are calling for recognition of their rights.
70 years ago, on May 8, 1945, the German armed forces capitulated, marking the end of the Second World War, at least in Europe. In other parts of the world, the war was not over – like Hiroshima where Allied forces dropped the first atomic bomb in August 1945.
This shows how relative perspective can be. It could be seen as a sign that Germany still lacks awareness of the dimensions of the Second World War outside Europe. Not only the hundreds of thousands of dead in Hiroshima bear witness to this. African colonies were also drawn into a war that was not theirs. From 1939 hundreds of thousands of West African soldiers were sent to the front in Europe. Countless men from the British colonies had to serve as bearers and in other non-combatant roles. In France, Germany and Italy, in India, Burma or on the Pacific islands, African soldiers died for their European colonial masters.