Sunday, 17 August 2014

We've all heard the story of the Soviets raping German women as they marched eastward towards the end of the Second World War. As Cold War bad guys, it was considered acceptable to reveal these atrocities. The mass rape of Italian women by Muslims and Africans, serving in French imperial battalions, has not yet been accepted into the canon of 'official' public history, however. Instead, we are presented with tall tales of how the French 'native' troops liberated France and virtually defeated Hitler single-handed, as shown in the film "Days of Glory".
To come back to the film, first of all we regret that the director Rashid Bouchareb does not show the horrible exactions commited against Italian civilians by Moroccan native troops and other colonial soldiers in the French Expeditionary Corps during the liberation of Italy in 1943 and 1944. The Moroccans, in particular, but also African soldiers of other nationalities, raped thousands of women, girls as well and men during this period. They looted villages and killed those who tried to protect their wives and their children. 
According to the communist Italian feminist organisation, l’Unione delle Donne Italiane, 12,000 were raped in this period by French colonial troops. This figure is quite credible, wrote the historian Tommaso Baris, professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University La Sapienza in Rome and author of a detailed study on the subject, reproduced in the prestigious magazine Vingtième siècle. General Juin, commander in chief of the French contingent, solemnly declared on the subjet of these rapes and murders: "We need to put an end to these actions, unworthy of a victorious army." But the depredations continued nonetheless.

A film, La Ciociara, telling the story of these odious group rapes was made in 1960
by Vittorio De Sica, based on the book by Alberto Moravia, with Sophia Loren in the main role. ... These depredations were also denounced by - among others - the military historian Edward L. Bimberg, a former American army officer during the Second World War, who personally came across the Moroccan native troops, whose courage in the face of the enemy he praised nonetheless.


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