Gumiera in Italy, photo from the American magazine "Life"
The most exotic formations of the French army, of course, were the goumiers (goumiers marocains) - auxiliary units, which mainly consisted of Moroccan Berbers living in the Atlas mountains (the mountaineers of the Reef were in the territory controlled by Spain).
The Berber recruitment was initiated by Brigadier General Albert Amad, who then headed the French expeditionary force in Morocco.
Albert Gerard Leo d'Amade
The French authorities, who already had extensive experience in using “native” military formations, listened to the general’s opinion, and in 1908 the first detachments of the Hummers were recruited.
Gumier, plastic figure
There are two versions of the origin of the word. The first claims that the name was derived from the Maghreb word “gum” (Maghreb Arabic “gūm”, classical Arabic qawm), meaning “family” or “tribe”. According to the second, less likely, the word comes from the Maghreb Arabic verb "stand".
In the French army, this word began to be called a detachment of 200 people, which, in turn, formed a "camp" (3-4 "gum"), and three "camps were called a" group "- that is, we are talking about analogues of a company, a battalion and a shelf.
Initially, the Gumiers wore a traditional Berber costume, from which later remained turbans and gray or brown striped raincoats with a hood - jellabe.
Gumiers in jellaba: these cloaks make them easy to recognize in any photo
Another feature distinguishing gumiers from other parts was the curved Moroccan dagger, which became a symbol of their compounds.
Later, some combat units created on the territory of French Sudan (Upper Volta and Mali), but a special trace in stories they did not leave, and therefore, when they talk about the gummers, the fierce Berber mountaineers of Morocco immediately appear.
For three years, the gumyers were mercenaries, since 1911 he became part of the French army, their commanders were officers of the Algerian battalions of tyiraliers and spag.
Unlike other "native" formations, the gumyers never became full-fledged regular army soldiers. They remained true to their tribal traditions, which more than once terrified not only their opponents, but also the French themselves. It was common practice to cut off captive ears, noses, and chopping off heads as evidence of masculinity and courage. Disciplinary punishments for such misconduct turned out to be futile. That is why the compounds of the Gumiers, despite the great losses of the French troops, were not used during World War I in Europe, but Moroccan spahi were sometimes mistaken for them. For example, the picture below is often signed: "Moroccan Gumiers in Flanders." But this is exactly spahi.
Moroccan spahi in Flanders in World War I, which are often mistaken for the Gumiers
This 1915 photo is signed: "Gumière in France."
And again, this is a Moroccan spag. Compare it with a real gummer:
But the French authorities willingly used the gerberas of the Berbers to pacify the rebellious tribes, their actions during the Reef war were especially successful (and cruel). The soldiers of the army of the Emir-President Abd al-Krim al-Khattabi also did not spare them, and from 1908 to 1934. in Morocco, more than 12 thousand gumiers (12 583 according to French data) died out of 22 thousand - more than during World War II.
Moroccan gummers in Europe during World War II
In the period of World War II, the Hummers nevertheless came to Europe. Recall that de Gaulle then got two "camps" (battalions) of these Moroccans. In the future, new “camps” and “groups” (regiments) were recruited. Initially, they took part in the battles against the Italian troops in Libya (1940) and the German in Tunisia (participated in the capture of Bizerta and the city of Tunisia in 1942-1943).
Parade of Hummers in Liberated Tunisia
Then the compounds of the Hummers were transferred to Italy.
Altogether in Italy there were four Moroccan groups of hummers numbering about 12 thousand people. They were used for reconnaissance in combat, sabotage raids, as well as in battles in areas with difficult terrain, especially in the mountains.
The fourth camp of Hummers, seconded to the First American Infantry Division, took part in the landing operation to land on Sicily (Operation Husky, July-August 1943). Other units in September 1943 as part of Operation Vesuvius were on the island of Corsica.
Gumiers in Ajaccio, Corsica, September 1943
Gumiers in Bastia, Corsica, October 4, 1943
2013, Moroccan gumiers at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Corsica
Landing of one of the camps of Moroccan Gumieres of the Second group on a landing ship departing for the island of Elba
Finally, in November 1943, the units of the Hummers were transferred to Italy. They showed themselves very well when crossing the Avrunk mountains (May 1944), but “became famous” mainly for their incredible cruelty, and not only towards the Germans, but also to civilians of the “liberated” regions.
In Italy, they still remember the numerous cases of murders, robberies, as well as the massive rape of women, even girls (starting from 11 years old) and teenage boys by the gumiers of Moroccan regiments. Events 1943-1945 in Italy they often call guerra al femminile (“war with women”), but this emotional and catchy phrase does not fully describe the events that took place: after all, not only women suffered from the actions of Moroccans. A more correct (and official) definition of the outrages of the Hummers is marocchinate (Morocquinate).
It came to the point that the fighters of the Italian Resistance, having forgotten about the Germans, began to fight with the Gumieres, trying to protect the inhabitants of neighboring towns and villages from them.
Fighters of one of the Italian partisan detachments
Women of an Italian partisan detachment, 1945
The first cases of rape by Italian gummers date back to December 11, 1943. Already in March 1944, the number of incidents involving Moroccans became such that local residents turned to Charles de Gaulle, who had arrived on the Italian front, with a request to remove them from Italy - this appeal was ignored by de Gaulle. But these were still “flowers”. The Italians saw the “Berries” in May 1944, when, with the active participation of the Gumiers, the Monte Cassino region, about 120 km southeast of Rome, was “liberated”.
Monte Cassino region on a map of Italy (the region on which the green rectangle “E-45” turned out to be very successful)
Here the so-called defensive "Gustav line" took place and bloody battles unfolded.
Gumiers of the 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division as part of the French Expeditionary Force with a Browning M1919 machine gun, Esperia, Italy, May 1944
The French general Alfons Juan (who commanded the expeditionary force of the “Fighting France” in North Africa, he had been working with Moroccans since the winter of 1916) decided to further motivate the gumiers and managed to find the “necessary words”:
“Soldiers! You are not fighting for the freedom of your land. This time I tell you: if you win the battle, then you will have the best houses, women and wine in the world. But not a single German should remain alive! I say this and keep my promise. Fifty hours after the victory, you will be absolutely free in your actions. Nobody will punish you later, no matter what you do. ”
Thus, he actually became an accomplice in numerous crimes of his subordinates, but did not suffer any punishment for this. In 1952, Juan received the rank of Marshal of France and after his death in 1967 he was buried in the Paris House of Disabled.
The outrages of the Hummers began on May 15, 1944. In the small town of Spigno alone, they raped 600 women and killed 800 men who tried to defend them.
In the cities of Ceccano, Supino, Sgorgola and their neighbors, 5418 rapes of women and children were recorded (many of them were subjected to violence more than once), 29 murders, 517 robberies. Some men were neutered.
Even the modern Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Gellain wrote about the gummers:
“These were savages who recognized power, loved to dominate.”
The official British report of those years dryly says:
“Women, girls, adolescents and children were raped right on the street, men were neutered ... American soldiers entered the city just at that time and tried to intervene, but the officers stopped them, saying that they were not there, and that the Moroccans made this victory for us ".
American sergeant McCormick recalled the events of those days:
“We asked our lieutenant Bazik what to do, to which he replied:“ I think they are doing what the Italians did with their women in Africa. ”
We wanted to add that the Italian troops did not enter Morocco, but we were ordered not to intervene. ”
We wanted to add that the Italian troops did not enter Morocco, but we were ordered not to intervene. ”
Many were shocked by the fate of two girls, sisters 18 and 15 years old: the youngest died after gang rape, the eldest went crazy and was kept in a psychiatric hospital until the end of her life (for 53 years).
Many women were then forced to have an abortion, and even more were treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
These events are mentioned in the novel “Chochara” by Alberto Moravia, later two films were shot: “La ciociara” (“Chochara”, sometimes translated as “Woman from Chochar” or “Two Women”, directed by Vittorio de Sica) and “White Book” "(John Houston).
The first of them is better known, having received many international prizes and awards, the main role in it was glorified by Sophia Loren. In 1961, she was awarded three awards for Best Actress: New York Society of Film Critics, David Di Donatello (Italian National Film Award) and Silver Ribbon (Italian National Film Association). And in 1962, Lauren received an Oscar for Best Actress (she became the first actress to receive this award for a film not in English), and the British Film and Television Academy (BAFTA) named her the best foreign actress.
Sophia Loren in the movie "La ciociara"
And this is “the communist shot by the Germans Jean-Paul Belmondo” (did they all recognize the beloved “handsome” in the USSR?) As Michele Di Libero, the bridegroom of the daughter of the heroine Sophia Loren:
Ciociaria is a small region in the Lazio region whose mother and daughter were born, whose fate is described in the novel Moravia and the film Vittorio de Sica: returning home from Rome, they stopped for the night in a church in a small town and were raped by “liberators” .
The outrages of the Moroccan gumiers continued in other regions of Italy. 55-year-old E. Rossi, who lived in the town of Farneta (Tuscany region, about 35 km from the city of Siena), showed at a hearing in the lower house of the Italian parliament on April 7, 1952:
“I tried to protect my daughters 18 and 17 years old, but I was stabbed in the stomach with a knife. Bleeding, I watched them being raped. A five-year-old boy, not understanding what is happening, rushed to us. Several bullets were fired into his stomach and thrown into a ravine. The next day, the child died. ”
There is quite a lot of such evidence, and reading them is very difficult.
The ugly actions of the Gumiers aroused indignation of Pope Pius XII, who in June 1944 sent de Gaulle an official protest and a request to send only "Christian troops" to Rome - and received in return assurances of "heartfelt sympathy". The only attempt to stabilize the situation de Gaulle made was the order to increase the number of prostitutes in the places of deployment of African troops, but it was not fulfilled either: there were no Italians among those who wanted to voluntarily "slaughter" the Moroccans.
In fairness, it is worth saying that some commanders of the allies tried to restore order in the territories they control. Some rapists were shot - at the crime scene or by court order (the exact number of those shot is still unknown). Others were detained and sentenced to forced labor (so did not keep his word "blessing" his subordinates in the robbery and violence of the French General Alfons Juan).
Already after the end of the war (August 1, 1947), the government that sided with the allies of Italy turned to France with a demand to investigate the actions of the Gumiers. The French initially stated that the Italians “not burdened with morality” themselves “provoked” Muslim Moroccans, but under the influence of numerous evidence agreed to pay insignificant amounts (from 30 to 150 thousand lire) for every Italian citizen who proved the violence, but not to them in person: reparations were reduced by this amount.
In Italy, the National Association of Marocchinate Victims still exists. On October 15, 2011, the president of this association, Emiliano Ciotti, declared:
“From the many documents collected today, it is known that at least 20 recorded cases of violence have been committed. This number still does not reflect the truth - medical reports of those years report that two-thirds of raped women, out of shame or modesty, chose not to report anything to the authorities. ”
The association appealed to the international court three times (in 1951, 1993 and 2011), demanding an objective investigation of the events of those years and payment of adequate compensation to the victims, all of these attempts were unsuccessful.
As a result, the inhabitants of the city of Pontecorvo smashed a monument to the “liberating” Gummers, and when a memorial stele was erected on behalf of France in honor of the fallen Moroccans, a pig’s head was thrown to it.
The completion of the history of Moroccan gumiers
The Gumiers continued to fight. Since the end of 1944, they have already fought on the territory of France, and here, of course, they were not allowed to rob and rape them. For example, their participation in the liberation of Marseilles was noted.
Gumier with flag 1 GTM
The form of the Moroccan gumier in May 1944
At the end of March 1945, one of the units of the Hummers was the first in the French army to enter German territory from the Siegfried Line.
It is estimated that during the years of World War II, the “Troops of Free France” consisted of 12 thousand Moroccan hummers (22 thousand people took part in the hostilities). According to French data, 1638 of them were killed (including 166 officers and non-commissioned officers), and about 7 were wounded.
After the war, the gumiers were returned to Morocco, where they were used to perform garrison service. From 1948 to 1954 three “groups of Moroccan camps of the Far East” (nine camps) fought in Vietnam, losing 787 people killed (including 57 officers and non-commissioned officers).
In 1956, after the declaration of independence of Morocco, all formations of the Gumiers went over to the royal service - more than 14 thousand people. Many of them actually became gendarmes, fulfilling the duties of maintaining order and “appeasing” the Berber tribes.
In the next article we will begin the story of the history of the French Foreign Legion.
Soldier of the 13th half-brigade of the Foreign Legion, 1940, Libya