During WW II Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia did not revolt against either Vichy France or Free France. Not only did they not take advantage of the initial French defeat and its occupation by Axis powers, soldiers from these lands even fought with the French Army to liberate France. 300,000 North African Arabs fought in the ranks of the Free French, according to Wikipedia. They also did not declare independence in the aftermath of World War II - they would become independent much later.

This is different from a lot of other major colonies of European countries which declared independence during and immediately after WW II. For example India and Pakistan in 1947, Philippines in 1946, Indonesia and Vietnam in 1945, Syria and Lebanon in 1943.

  • 4
    It's not that different. India by and large also stood with the British Empire through WW2. After WW2 France had to suppressed nationalists in North Africa as well. And ultimately they all gained independence.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 7:30
  • India 'standing with' Britain was probably related to the fact that the British government and forces were mainly intact/not surrendered to Germany. And also India gained independence shortly after WW II, while Algerian War only started in 1954.
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


This is more a comment than an answer, but I need the space:

  • Significance of the "300.000 soldiers" data. Note that such a number does not mean that most of the population loved the colonization. People could have been enlisted by force, or just as a mean of living and escaping poverty. Even if they had enlisted voluntarely for their love of France, it would only mean that a part of the population was pro French, not that the whole (or even the majority) was.

  • Comparation with Indonesia: when the Netherlands were invaded, their colonies became completely isolated from the metropolis. What is more, they were invaded by a completely different foreign power that dismantled the colonial organization. In contrast, French colonies were mostly under the control of Vichy France or Free France during almost all the war. The only colony in a situation similar to Indonesia was Indochina (nowadays Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), which immediately after the war started an independence war.

  • Comparation with India: Algeria and Tunisia were settler colonies1 where French immigration was encouraged; Algeria was even considered part of France "proper". That made leaving them a lot more complicated politically that, say, leaving Middle East or Indochina.

  • And, perhaps (personal opinion here), a different colonial policy. The UK already had a policy of allowing colonies to "let go" when it was politically convenient. Certainly the situation of India was far different from Australia or Canada, but at least there were some precedents which French politic did not have.

1 Legally, Tunisia was a protectorate which meant that it kept a local government, though it was the French administration which really held the power.

  • 3
    @SJuan76 in case of morocco people fought for France because they were promised that their country will become independent AFAIK
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 12:33
  • 1
    @MediSaif If you have a reference for that, I think that would make a good additional answer for this question.
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 17:42
  • @SJuan76 thanks I think this is a good explanation to this question, so it's fine as an answer.
    – user69715
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 17:44
  • 2
    @SJuan76 well with a bit interpretation this could be concluded from wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… , but this is what is thought at school and all people in Morocco would agree about. And i myself met an ancient independence fighter (nationalist) -he was my doctor- who told me that after 1944 they turned to learn German, as they knew France wouldn't give them independence so easily!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 9:27
  • 2
    +1 for pointing out the difference between English and French colonial politics as important factor
    – Greg
    Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 9:46

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