African occupation soldiers in Porz (1920 - 1926)

After the First World War first British occupying troops entered in the moorland of Wahn. In spring, 1919 the establishment of the "forest camp" began behind the brick field. A guarded hutment with big enough for about 1,000 soldiers with vehicles and horses was originated. From 1920 the camp was used by French troops, mostly by Moroccan colonial troops.
 
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Forest Camp 1919 1)

 
 

 
 

Leftovers of the Forest Camp 2009 1)

 


And this time they were the winners, the citizens of Cologne were on the loser's side. As everywhere in Rhineland one reacted with terror and loathing.

Rhineland occupation: „The black disgrace“

The participation of French colonial troops in the occupation of the Rhineland and of the Ruhr after the First World War was fought by parts of the national press and some high-powered representatives of economy, politics and society as they called it deliberate humiliation of Germany by the French "hereditary enemy".

 

    

 
 

French colonial soldiers marching in a troop parade on April 23rd 1919 in Mainz (Picture: Jewish museum, Berlin)

 

With calculated outrage they referred to the "disgrace" which would be done to the „German civilized people“, while one put uncivilised "savages", equipped with sovereign and military power , above the whites. To split the allied war opponents and to isolate France in terms of foreign policy, they referred to the dangers which would arise of the worldwide supermacy of the „white race“ from such actions: The colonized would become high-spirited and would be harder to control.

 

         

 
 

Colonial troops (Tirailleurs Sénégalais) moving in on  9/3/1919, Diez, Wilhelmstrasse.  (Picture: Jewish museum, Berlin)

 


The contemporary discourse was introduced in its Cologne stamping by the retired major Plewig, who was directorate of the shooting range management in Wahn:

"A special chapter  formed the coloured, especially black French troops [...]. On the part of the supposedly hightest civilization, as the French state calls itself,and cultural fighters against the German barbarians who would threaten the world's culture, it was a deliberate degradation of the German people, to send such Culture bearer like Senegals and blacks, apart from Moroccans who weren't any better though, to the gained territory. This kind of persons are on so low moral position which is hard to describe." 

 

         

 

He said that the Africans were dangerous, showed their guns often and

"[...] expelled, on this occasion sounds similar to dog barking which had no resemblance to any language and which nobody was able to understand. [...] Communication with these people was impossible, because they weren't able to talk any known language except her throat sound." 

 

 
  From: Siimplicissimus, 2/5/1923:
•  78 cases of murder and homicide
•  65 abuses and assaults
• 170 morality offences
 

In detail Plewig talks about the "disgraceful" feeling and the behavior of the African soldiers that's being discussed. Rapes happened several times, he reports; however, these have not been talked about because of shame. Finally, the French established a brothel with African women on the area. The fact that the relation was determined between African soldiers and German women in the reality by no means by power, becomes clear at other place:

"As well or even more embarrassingly (than the establishment of the brothel) was the fact that on Sundays girls, in company of their parents came to the shooting ranges to meet their black lovers, by train from Grevenbroich where the blacks have probably had their quarters before. One could even see blacks with girls in their arms walking along the Mauspfad. Generally it was quite a marvelous, people-reconciling sight, but not for everybody."

In a later listing from Plewig of incidents with occupying soldiers only one single rape is mentioned by an African soldier. One can suppose that he adapted himself with his assumptions to the general lamentation of his contemporaries. The reality, however, as it is written in the last segment was by far different. We known that a whole series of relations originated between German women and African soldiers and that children arose from these relations.  b
 

Sources:

 1) Pictures from "Lost Sites" with the permission Christoph
     Kämper.

Literature:

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

"Besondere Kennzeichen Neger" - Schwarze im NS-Staat. Ein
   Ausstellungsprojekt des NS-Dokumentationszentrums Köln

• Stadtarchiv Porz, E 510-515, Plewig/5, Bl. 45-47.