After repressing the mutiny of West African ex-prisoners in Thiaroye near Dakar on 1 December 1944, the French military authorities concluded that the German treatment of these prisoners had made them prone to revolting. Allegedly, the Germans had planned to destabilize French colonialism by treating the prisoners well (despite the German army massacres of black French soldiers in June 1940) and by allowing black prisoners to enter into intimate relationships with white French women. The article critically analyzes the explanations of the French authorities for the revolt of Thiaroye, tracing the motivations of the ex-prisoners to the way they interpreted Free French policies after liberation in the context of their captivity experience. It argues that the relatively correct German treatment of the African POWs after the summer of 1940 and the contacts of prisoners with French civilians were circumstantial and not part of a deliberate German policy to incite revolts in the French colonies. Ultimately, the unruliness of African ex-prisoners resulted much less from German measures than from the disillusioning experience of the soldiers with the Vichy and Free French authorities during and after captivity, which formed a powerful contrast to the mostly friendly and respectful treatment of the Africans by the French civilian population.

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