Days of Glory

The Seattle City Library rarely lets me down; I just watched the DVD of a 2006 French/Algerian film (English captions) called "Days of Glory" (“Indigènes"). It is a little-known tale about a little-known military operation during WWII.

The French recruited Algerian and Senegalese soldiers to help them fight the Nazis. The recruits were promised liberté, égalité, fraternité, as their reward. Instead, those North African (Muslim) men were used as a human shield for French troops, who followed them and claimed their victories. There were no promotions for these soldiers, their mail was confiscated and destroyed, they fought in the European winters wearing just their sandals but still were told to expect Veteran's benefits at the war's end. That promise has been repeated over the subsequent decades but never funded.

That adds another aspect to the recent riots in France. Not only are the Muslims marginalized, they have been lied to for over sixty years.

There are a number of Algerian actors in this film and I recognize a few of them. One of them, a little guy who is usually in comedies (and has a missing right hand from a childhood accident) is one of the producers. When the actors got together before the filming began, they realized that they were reliving the experiences of their grandfathers! They felt, and I agree, that it is a story that must be told.

This is an important element in the history of WWII.