December 15th, 2008 Headsman
On this date in 1914, the French army decimated a regiment of its Tunisian soldiers for retreating.
Seriously, decimation? In the 20th century?
Even the most jaded navigator of World War I’s extensive stock of horror may be gobsmacked to find that military executions in this conflict extended to the Roman-pioneered practice of imposing collective punishment on a unit by killing a random tenth of it. Little more is evidently available about this situation online, but the idea of the French military selecting randomly for salutary executions is used in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory where one officer, charged with providing an enlisted man for trial, simply has them all draw lots.
And according to Gilbert Meynier’s L’Algérie Révélée: La guerre de. 1914–1918 et le premier quart du XX sie`cle (French review), African soldiers’ experience in the Great War with incidents like this tended to underscore France’s colonial domination … and helped contribute to the national identity-forming that would break the French grip on North Africa as the century unfolded.
Also on this date
- 1882: James Gilmore, the first hanged in Deadwood
- 1655: Henry Manning, Protectorate spy
- 1965: Joseph Bamina, former Burundi Premier
- 1983: John Eldon Smith, mafioso Willy Loman
- 401 B.C.E.: Clearchus of Sparta
Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Chosen by Lot,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,France,Hanged,History,Known But To God,Mass Executions,Military Crimes,Murder,Notable Jurisprudence,Occupation and Colonialism,Piracy,Power,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,Shot,Soldiers,Summary Executions,Theft,Tunisia,Uncategorized,Wartime Executions