“All is fair in love and war,” is definitely a mantra France — and most of Europe — had in mind during the tumultuous years of the First World War. And with Germany to the North and Italy to the South, France pulled some questionable strings in order to survive.
One of the common practices of the time was for large European countries to pull men from their colonies when troops were low to fill out the empty barracks. And France pulled soldiers from North African countries like Mali and Nigeria, most of whom received poor treatment and never made it back home. Thousands of these soldiers were honored at a ceremony this week hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron and Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Reims, France. The city’s famous cathedral would not still be there if Malian and other foreign troops hadn’t single-handedly protected it from destruction by the Germans, saving the small French city.
Though a century after World War I’s end, it must be satisfying for the ancestors of these brave soldiers to see their people finally recognized for the hard work and dedication they showed, without which France likely wouldn’t be here today.