Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Forgotten "Greatest Generation"



For Africa, WW2 didn't begin in 1939. It began in 1935, as Italian forces under fascist Benito Mussolini invaded the only fully independent African nation--Ethiopia. Over much of the coming decade, the entire continent would be thrown into the tumult of the war between mostly European powers. With nearly every region colonized by the warring Europeans, Africans found themselves conscripts in battles that (with the exception of Ethiopia) weren't really their own. Over 1.3 million continental Africans would end up participating in the conflict. Yet, other than the exploits of German generals like Rommel in North Africa, the continent doesn't make it into many histories of the war.

Recently however, as part of the 70th anniversary of WW2, the BBC covered these forgotten members of the "Greatest Generation." Better late I suppose than never...



The Africans who fought in WWII

By Martin Plaut
BBC Africa analyst

The 70th anniversary of World War II is being commemorated around the world, but the contribution of one group of soldiers is almost universally ignored. How many now recall the role of more than one million African troops?

Yet they fought in the deserts of North Africa, the jungles of Burma and over the skies of Germany. A shrinking band of veterans, many now living in poverty, bitterly resent being written out of history.

For Africa, World War II began not in 1939, but in 1935.

Read full article here.


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