French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa

By Ruth Ginio | Go to book overview

3.
Vichy Settles In: Administrative
Changes and Continuity

With the end of the battles in Africa between the Anglo-Gaullists and the pro-Vichy French it was time for Governor-General Boisson to enhance his grip on the vast territory that was now under Vichy rule. His aims were well defined. First, he vowed to keep the federation free of German or Italian influence and presence and to protect it from the British and the Gaullists. Second, and this was no simple task either, he intended to keep the African population calm and to forestall the eruption of revolts in the new and delicate situation that had been created.

As to the first aim, Boisson indeed refused to allow Germans to enter FWA. His insistence was motivated by his apparent dislike for Germans, by his wish to assert his autonomy, and by his fear that if Germans became too visible in FWA the already damaged colonial prestige would further diminish in the eyes of the Africans. The Germans, for their part, resented this attitude, and after long negotiations it was agreed that a German delegate would visit Dakar disguised as a French official; he even changed his name from Eitel Friedrich Mulhausen to René Martin for the occasion. This was the only official German visit to FWA during the war.1

Boisson saw in the British and Gaullists no less significant a threat. The attacks on Mers el-Kebir and Dakar did nothing to allay his Anglophobia, and he was highly suspicious of British intentions regarding the French colonies, especially since, in the colonial arena, Britain had always been a fiercer opponent of France than Germany had been. Boisson exploited the Anglo-Gaullist attack on Dakar and his own fierce resistance to demand that the Germans allow an increase in the size of both the Armée d’Afrique and the colonial army in West Africa. The Germans agreed to raise the troop level to thirty-three thousand men; by mid-1942 it actually

-25-

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French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - French West Africa and Its Place in the Vichy Colonial Idea 1
  • 1 - Setting the Stage for Vichy 3
  • 2 - "A Source of Pride and Greatness" 11
  • Part II 23
  • 3 - Vichy Settles In- Administrative Changes and Continuity 25
  • 4 - Spreading the National Revolution in FWA 33
  • 5 - "Thinking Big" 59
  • Part III 87
  • 6 - Vichy and the "Products" of Assimilation 93
  • 7 - The Vichy Regime and the "Traditional" Elements of African Society 117
  • 8 - Vichy Colonialism and African Society 153
  • Part IV 159
  • 9 - Vichy Colonialism 161
  • 10 - Vichy''s Postwar Impact 173
  • Conclusions 183
  • Notes 191
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 231
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