African prisoners of war in Porz (1914 - 1918)


After the first battles in the west were fought in World War I prisoners of war were brought to Porz in 1914 already – more exactly to the moorland of Wahn.


On October 20th 1914 more than 4,000 prisoners are listed, one and a half years later the number increased up to 50,000; among them were French colonial soldiers, so-called Tirailleurs, from North Africa, but also from Senegal. First the prisoners were accommodated in barracks of the old military camp as well as in tents. 
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In 1915/16 the prisoner's of war camp was reestablished. 76 barracks existed, each of wooden frameworks with boarding and roofs made of paperboards. The lodgings in the camp were separated by nationalities and "races".



The "exotic" prisoners attracted the attention of the public; photos, which were sold as postcards and sent, were taken. One could absolutely dedicate oneself to this fascination, as long as one stood on the putative side of the winner. In 1917 the camp was moved to Limburg at the river Lahn.



For the German propaganda the instating of colored colonial troops by their opponents in Europe was a fateful taboo break because with this the "domestic" quarrel would be decided between the white "brothers" by dependent colonial people. The propaganda did not become tired to repeat, that France – only to humiliate the Germans - would open the floodgates to barbarity all over Europe.  

    Caricature of Arthur Johnson [From: Kladderadatsch in 1916]

.„Blacks learn, how to shoot on whites“

To hurt France in terms of foreign policy, German Propagandists view the instate of French colonial troops during the First World War as a "sin" against the whole „white race“, because the Non-whites on the battlefield would recognize the conflict their white men have and how vulnerable they were. The respect before the white colonists (not only for the Germans) thereby would disappear and "high spirits" would be its result.

“Black French soldiers learn how to shoot at white men with cannons.” [From: Illustrated observer, special number “guilt of France” (April, 1940).]    


Bechhaus-Gerst, Marianne, Afrikanische Kriegsgefangene und
   Besatzungssoldaten in Wahn

"Besondere Kennzeichen Neger" - Schwarze im NS-Staat. Ein
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