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"Missing: a social history of the war in North Africa" Topic

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336 hits since 22 Feb 2021
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2021 3:38 p.m. PST

"The war in North Africa is often seen as having taken place on the ‘perfect battlefield'. Space for maneuver, no civilians or settlements to get in the way. Histories of the war consequently focus on the events on this ‘perfect' battlefield, the to-and-fro of the tanks, and the battles in the air. This means that there is a serious gap in the historiography of the campaign that tore through Libya several times between June 1940 and January 1943. This gap is less of an issue for the Tunisian campaign.

There are also other issues relating to war crimes of course, including the systemic abuse of prisoners of war, repeated bombing of military hospitals, and some at least questionable actions in the heat of battle, but these should probably be considered part of the military, rather than social history…"
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Legion 422 Feb 2021 4:29 p.m. PST

Hmmm ?

donlowry22 Feb 2021 5:11 p.m. PST

Define "social history.'

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian22 Feb 2021 5:16 p.m. PST

I think he means to include the civilians.

Huscarle23 Feb 2021 2:51 a.m. PST

I recollect reading in one of the recent WWII North African campaign books about the travails of the Italian (largely female) civilian population. The Arabs murdered, raped, and looted – many civvies fled to the few cities and were forced to pursue the usual desperate measures to survive.

Legion 423 Feb 2021 9:30 a.m. PST

I guess that should be no surprise …

AndreasB28 Feb 2021 3:35 a.m. PST

What is meant is indeed to address the lacking focus on the experience of civilians (both Italian settlers and the Libyan population), and also the issue of war crimes, mistreatment of POWs and the implementation of the Holocaust in Libya.

We still get books talking about North Africa as a "War without Hate", and TBH that's just nonsense and we need to see this war for what it was, i.e. another instance of the genocidal enterprise that was European colonisation in general and WW2 in Europe and North Africa specifically.

All the best


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2021 3:34 p.m. PST



Legion 401 Mar 2021 2:33 a.m. PST

Yes, there is a dark side with the battle for that region in WWII.



AndreasB06 Mar 2021 1:55 p.m. PST

Yes, absolutely. There is a German academic who is doing work on this. Patrick Bernhard. A lot of his stuff is available on

All the best


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