This introduction explores the complex context of wartime North Africa and the many people who dwelt there: Muslims, Christians, and Jews; women, men, and children; the unknown and the notable; locals, refugees, the displaced and the interned; soldiers, officers, bureaucrats, volunteer fighters and the forcibly recruited. It maps out the implementation of racist and anti-Semitic laws in Vichy-occupied Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, Nazi-occupied Tunisia, and Italian fascist-occupied Libya, and the creation of a network of prison and labor camps across these regions. Finally, it prepares readers to encounter a diversity of voices that illustrate the complexity of life, war, occupation, and racist policy across the occupied lands of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya during the era of the Second World War.
This book section is composed of myriad sources that track the rise of Nazism, the Vichy French regime, and Fascist Italy from the perspective of those in North Africa, including European refugees, former volunteer fighters for the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War and the French Foreign Legion, and a diverse array of local North Africans. Together, they provide evidence that the region of North Africa was closely bound up with events in Europe leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War, and that those in North Africa—locals as well as the forcibly displaced—lent these events their own perspectives, predictions, and sentiments.
This section charts the implementation of race laws, forced internment, and spoliation by the French Vichy, Nazi, and Fascist Italian regimes in North Africa. This collection of primary documents, all of which offer unique first-hand perspectives, explore the experience of interment in forced labor, internment, and prison camps that stretched across the Sahara and all of North Africa; the loss of property and businesses by North African Jews subject to anti-Semitic laws; the tremendous toll that war and state-sponsored famine imposed upon the peoples and landscape of North Africa; and the threat of sexual violence that attended occupation.
This section portrays the unfolding of the late and post-World War II era in North Africa. These sources explore the November 1942 Anglo-American invasion of French Morocco and Algeria, Operation Torch, which brought some 107,000 British and American troops to North Africa. Some accounts emphasize the joyousness with which American and other Allied troops were welcomed in North Africa, particularly by Jews. But the Americans did not bring transformation overnight. The Allied powers agreed that Vichy rule in North Africa did not officially end (and would remain in place until 1943). Despite lobbying by international Jewish organizations, political prisoners, including many Jews, languished in Vichy camps for some time, and anti-Jewish Vichy legislation was not immediately abrogated. Operation Torch augured a new jockeying for power in North Africa. Finally, this section documents the shaping of postwar memory in North Africa, in prayer, public remembrance, memoir and more.