German attitude to fighting non-whites in the trenches

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Gungnir
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German attitude to fighting non-whites in the trenches

Post by Gungnir » 05 Jul 2003 04:57

What was the German soldiers attitude/feeling/reaction when they were fighting against: Indians, Gurkhas, blacks, and other non-whites.

Of course when the soldier is in the middle of a fire fight they are not paying attention or thinking about the color of the enemy, they are fighting for survival…but at times when they knew they were fighting or going to fight a non-white group of soldiers, such as Indians, Gurkhas, blacks, etc.

are there any diaries or letters from German soldiers, expressing said feelings/opinion/attitude toward fighting non-whites

Any informtion of the German soldiers opinion/attitude/feeling/reaction to fighting against non-white enemies.

This was early 20th century Europe and many Europeans were probably not accustomed to see non-white soldiers face to face, (except maybe the British)...Iam not trying to put down the European people by this question

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 05 Jul 2003 14:02

An American account:

German Fear of Colored Troops

How the Germans feared the colored American soldiers is indicated by Mr. Tyler in his report of a conversation with two American aviators, Lieut. V. H. Burgin of Atlanta and Lieut. A. L. Clark of Boston. Both had been forced to descend behind the German lines and had been held as prisoners of war for two months. Writing from Brest, where these airmen were waiting for transport home, Mr. Tyler said:

"The interesting part of these intrepid American airmen's narrative of their fight, capture and imprisonment, to colored people, is that while they were captured at different points, and imprisoned at widely separated prisons, both state that when brought before the German military intelligence department and questioned as to the American force in France, one of the first questions asked of them, and which the Germans seemed most concerned about, was bow many colored troops the Americans had over here. Lieut. Burgin, of Atlanta, said he told them there were 13,000,000 American colored troops in France. He stated that this not only surprised the Germans, but appeared to depress them, 'For,' he added, 'the Germans have a holy fear of colored troops and their knives wielded with skill and dexterity.' He stated that this information made a tremendous impression on the Germans, although he admitted he did not know, at the time, how many colored troops were in France, but thought it was best to exaggerate rather than underestimate the strength of our forces when questioned by the enemy.

"Lieut. Clark, the Boston aviator, also said that the leading question put to him by the German military intelligence officers was: ,How many Negro troops have the Americans got over here? He stated that not knowing, he was frank. in telling them that he did not know, but that he believed there were several millions. He, too, stated that this information regarding the force of colored troops in France, given to the German officers who questioned him, greatly depressed them.

"It was a fact patent to every American officer and soldier who had had contact with German soldiers, that they had a mortal fear of colored soldiers. This fear had been occasioned by two things. First, before the American colored soldiers had been put on the battle front the Germans had encountered the fierce fighting Senegalese and Algerians, fighting with the French, who took no prisoners, and who were prone to cut off the ears and other parts of a German's anatomy before dispatching him into eternity. Then again, later, they had encountered the 372nd, 371st, 370th and 369th colored regiments, the first colored Americans to arrive in France, and who were brigaded and fought with the French. The Germans had learned that the American colored soldier, while not brutal like the Senegalese and Algerians, were even harder,, more scientific and more dangerous fighters. They were men who fought with precision---fought like trained veterans---were good in trench warfare, in raids, or in attack-any way they were ordered to fight, while the Senegalese and Algerians were best in attack---being dashing, whirlwind fighters in attacks, or as shock troops."

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Post by nondescript handle » 05 Jul 2003 17:32

Odd, since the german empire was a colonial power, and had its share of fighting with "non-white enemies" prior WW1.

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Beowulf
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Post by Beowulf » 06 Jul 2003 09:57

Lieut. Burgin, of Atlanta, said he told them there were 13,000,000 American colored troops in France. He stated that this not only surprised the Germans, but appeared to depress them


Hmm.. I can well imagine that it would depress them even if it were 13,000,000 housewives coming at them with springfield rifles. :| The Germans must have soon realized that such numbers were ridiculous.. there probably were not that many black men, women, and children in all of the U.S. at that time. :lol:

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Native American soldiers vs. Imperial German soldiers

Post by Gungnir » 06 Jul 2003 22:14

Found this in a history document book
This is excerpts from Meirion and Susie Harries, Building a National Army

Native Americans made some of the US Army's most awe-inspiring soldiers. Though Americanization was accelerating, and as many [American] Indians were lawyers , doctors, engineers by 1914 as were employed in hunting, trapping, or guiding, many still brought skills that adapted remarkebly well to conditions on the Western Front. Possibly because of Chief of Staff Hugh Scott's deep interest in their culture, they were not discriminated against. [...] In 1917-1918, young [American] Indian males were still in touch with traditional hunting and fighting skills. In the cantonments, they provided an object lesson to the urban conscripts in techniques of concealment and stealth by slipping across 'no-mans-land' to snatch a 'German' from the trenches opposite. [...]

Zane Grey [...] and other more authentic byproducts of culture so recently vibrant had all imprinted the Germans with stereotypical images of 'Red Indians'. They were terrified of the specter of the 'red man' and drafted extra snipers into sectors where (American) Indians were spotted, 'specially to pick off these dangerous men." Recognizing an opportunity for pyschological warfare, the War Department gave serious thought to "attempting a limited number of night raids with men (white Americans) camoflagedas (American) Indians in full regalia"

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 07 Jul 2003 04:56

German orderly helping wounded Sengalese 1916.

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Feuer Frei!!!
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My 2 cents

Post by Feuer Frei!!! » 08 Jul 2003 15:06

I find this whole discussion pointless, i find it ridiculus to portray Germans being scared of coloured people. Firstly because that is a gross generalisation and secondly that i believe a soldier's worth, which is obviously what is being discussed here, is a result of depth of training, good equipment and skillful leadership, Not on a basis of coloured or not coloured. This is obviously an attempt to portray coloured people as superior to white people, and why is that?

Lets look at the facts, could it not be interpreted that the German's 'depression' could be as a result of, knowing that the number of black males in the US army were much lower than white males, the sheer number of troops , 13,000,000, could bring them this 'depression?'

I have heard of reports that state that German troops did not like fighting the Japanese for example. Could this be because of the fact that they carried large katanas! This could also be used for coloured troops who did not take prisoners, surely 'fear' if that is the right word, will result if u know that ur enemy will cowardly kill you if you are taken prisoner? The 'superiority' of black troops is being claimed with small or non-existent facts, sources from Erwin Rommel himself, state that while Indian troops could be stubborn fighters (something he also states in regards to British, Australian, New Zealand and South African troops) the huge number of Indian prisoners captured kind of negates the whole superiority feeling doesnt it? Of course this is in the second war war, however obviously if the Germans were afraid of coloured troops they would be afraid of them 30-40 years later? No mention of superiority is made by Ernst Yunger in the Storm of Steel, his memoirs during the First world war, regarding Indian formations he faced. Respect is not inferiority.

The point of my argument is that superiority of races, because they are of a different race is ludicrous.

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Post by Gungnir » 08 Jul 2003 15:30

Feuer Frei!!! wrote:
This is obviously an attempt to portray coloured people as superior to white people, and why is that?

actually that was not my intentions at all

I could have written what was Indian, Gurkhas, blacks, and non-white soldiers attitude/feeling/reaction toward fighting Germans...and someone might have said: "This is obviously an attempt to portray white people as superior to colored people, and why is that?"

We have all read/seen accounts of German soldiers attitude/feelings toward: US and British paratroopers or the Russian attacks that come wave after wave without mercy

I was just merely interested (since i have never read or seen and accounts) of Germans fighting non-whites...there was no racial inference that non-white soldiers were better than white soldiers.
Attempting to find out what a soldier was thinking or feeling does not imply racial superiority.

I have read about the Argentinian conscripts fearing the Gurkhas in the Falklands Island War...no racial issues there
I have read about British soldiers accounts towards the fighting style of Gurkhas during the 1800's before the Gurkhas were incorporated into the British army...no racial issues there
I have read about German soldiers fearing Russian wave attacks...no racial issues here
I have read about German soldiers accounts about US and British paratroopers...no racial issues here

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 09 Jul 2003 12:49

German propaganda piece 1917.What the emphasis was on in such portrayals in 1917 was the predominance of French 'colonial' manpower being used,especially at the Chemin des Dames offensive of that year.A similar campaign against the British using their 'colonial' troops as cannon-fodder was also adopted.
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stg 44
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Post by stg 44 » 09 Jul 2003 23:52

I have read somewhere, which may actually be this forum, that the Germans were afraid of being captured by Africans because some tribes actually raped the young German boys. This was a dominance issue, not a homosexuality issue. I also heard that the Turks did this, and once did this to a captured lawerance of arabia. This is hearsay, not neccessarily fact. Also in 'The Holocaust' whose author's name eludes me at the moment, the Germans fighting at Verdun were terrified of being mutilated by the Africans. This was a book about Verdun, not the holocaust during WW2. Finally the history channel had a special about African-Americans during the first world war which mentioned German terror of the fighting prowess of these troops. Might it have be a chance for the African-Americans to kill white men as a surgote for those that were oppressing them at home?

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Post by Gwynn Compton » 13 Jul 2003 07:51

I'd just like to note that while this is an interesting topic to discuss, it is being watched incase anyone tries to turn it into a racist thread.

Though back to the discussion, what colonial troops did the French bring to the field of battle. I know of them using Algerians and Africans, but did they also have any formations from French Indochina? And if so, how well did they perform?

Gwynn

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 13 Jul 2003 09:41

French colonial forces:

At the beginning of the war, the colonial troops were mainly Frenchmen who lived in Algeria, Marocco and Tunisia. But in 1916, the number of native troops started to grow considerably.

On the 15th September 1917, the deployment of Senegalese battalions was as follow :

26 in the Western front ;
15 in the Armee d'Orient (Salonika) ;
12 in Algeria and Tunisia, ready to send renforcements to the battalions on the front line
3 as workers in the war industry
3 in the depots.
Total : 59 battalions.

Amongst the other fighting troops, there was in the Western Front :
2 battalions from Indochina
1 battalion from Madagascar
1 battalion from Somaliland
1 battalion from the Pacific Islands (Tahïti)

The grand total of natives who served during the war is :
181,512 from AOF and AEF (French Western Africa and French Equatorial
Africa)
48,922 from Indochina
41,355 from Madagascar
3 501 from Somaliland and Pacific
= 275,290.

Of these, 215,140 landed in France or Algeria.


Only 2 Indo-Chinese Battalions served on the Western Front,due to the colder climate that they were not used too.Another 6 Indo-Chinese Battalions served on the Salonika Front.All these units were of Vietnamese origin,Annamese from the North,Tonkinese from the South.

Annamese in France.
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http://raven.cc.ukans.edu/~kansite/ww_o ... ag0724.jpg

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Post by Gungnir » 14 Jul 2003 04:37

Gwynn Compton wrote:
I'd just like to note that while this is an interesting topic to discuss, it is being watched incase anyone tries to turn it into a racist thread.

--As stated before in my 8 July post, being the starter of this thread, I had no intentions of making this a 'racist thread' nor do i have any intentions of turning this into a 'racisit thread'. There is no racial bigotry here, no claim that one is better than another. It is purely to describe the actions of non-white (Indians and other Asians, blacks, Native Americans, etc.) soldiers through information and/or photographs in World War I.


India

Sepoy Khudadad Khan, 129th Battalion, Duke of Connaught's Own Baluchi Regiment
During the First Battle of Ypres Khudadad Khan became the first Indian to win the Victoria Cross. In October 1914, the 129th Battalion were among 20,000 Indians sent to the front lines. Their purpose was to relieve the exhausted and depleted soldiers of the BEF to prevent the advancing Germans from capturing the vital ports of Boulogne in France and Nieuwpoort in Belgium.
The 129th faced the well equipped German army in appalling conditions, they were outnumbered 5 to 1. On 30 October when the Germans attacked, the 129th was pushed back, however Khan machinegun team along with another continued to fight, preventing a German breakthrough. Khans team was eventually overrun, his gunners were killed and Khan was wounded. Pretending to be dead he managed to return to his unit. Khan team and the other machinegun team held the Germans long enough for British and Indian troops to arrive preventing the Germans from advancing.

Subedar Mantra Singh, 2nd Sikh Royal Infantry
In Mach 1915, the Allies attacked Neuve-Chapelle and broke through the German line. On the first day, British and Indian troops captured the town. However the Germans counterattacked with 16,000. After 3 days of fighting British and Indian troops suffered 13,000 casualties, 5,021 were Indians. Mantra Singh was injured in action after helping save Captain Henderson.
Interesting enough, during World War II the son of Mantra Singh and the son of Captain Henderson served side by side during the war and became lifelong friends.

Over 140,000 served on the Western Front and Belgium. 13,000 earned medals including 12 Victoria Crosses. In the end, 47,746 Indians died or were missing and 65,126 were wounded.

...more to come...
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Post by Gungnir » 20 Jul 2003 04:43

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A British Commonwealth (Indian) machine gun team


Image

British Commonwealth troops (New Zealand Maoris) of the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion perfoming ritual Haka dance before battle

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French colonial troops (Moroccan troops) at camp D'Arcy

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Black Canadian soldiers in a German trench they recently captured

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Belgian colonial troops (Belgian Congolese) on the move


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US 369th Infantry display their Croix de Guerre for gallantry


THE WEBSITE: http://www.ku.edu/~kansite/ww_one/photos/greatwar.htm

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 20 Jul 2003 06:58

Vietnamese:
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