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French author claims native Canadian soldiers scalped German soldiers

Retired AF Guy

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French author Olivier Wieviorka's has claimed in his book, "Normandy," that during the Normandy invasion native Canadian soldiers scalped German soldiers. Wieviorka's book was published in French in 2007 and in June 2008 published in English. Apparently, there is one sentence in the book, completely unsubstantiated, that alleges that the scalping's took place. The fact that there is only one sentence, 10 words total, its not surprising that it took this long for the you-know-what to hit the fan.

Its interesting that that Wieviorka's book has gotten some very good reviews:

This remarkable work rests on a series of sharp and convincing analyses worthy of a latter-day Thucydides. There isn't any aspect of the colossal and risky enterprise that Wieviorka has neglected. He is as impressive in interpreting the political calculations and motivations of the leaders as in describing the battles and evaluating the gaps between military plans and achievements. His discussion of the psychological trauma of the Allied soldiers is both moving and essential. On a topic on which so much has been written, Wieviorka has come as close to a definitive treatment as one can expect.
--Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard University (20080606)

Accounts of the Normandy campaign are not in short supply, but this one from a French military historian delivers an energetic, mildly revisionist overview...This is an engrossing history of the Normandy campaign. (Publishers Weekly 20090601)

Any way here reproduced, under the relevant sections of the Copyright Right is the article from the Winnipeg Free Press.

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Native vets, historians outraged by book's claim of Second World War scalping
By: John Ward, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - A French historian's claim that Canadian soldiers of native origin scalped prisoners during the Second World War has drawn outrage from aboriginal veterans and scorn from academics.
The allegation has been described as "racist,'' "appalling'' and "garbage."
The grotesque accusation is found in Olivier Wieviorka's book, "Normandy," an otherwise conventional account of the lead-up to D-Day and the eventual liberation of Paris. It was first published in France in 2007. Harvard University Press published a hardcover edition in 2008 and has just re-issued it in paperback.
The offending passage comes in a segment discussing atrocities. After briefly outlining the 12 SS Panzer division's penchant for murdering PoWs (many of them Canadians) during the Normandy campaign, Wieviorka turns to what he says are Allied atrocities.
Among them: "Some Canadian soldiers of native Indian origin scalped their captives."
No source or footnote is given. Harvard University Press did not reply to an email asking for comment.
Alex Maurice of Beauval, Sask., president of the National Aboriginal Veterans Association, is furious.
"This is racism at its ugliest, and I can only assume that person watched too, too many John Wayne movies,'' he said when told of the claim.
He said his uncle landed on D-Day with the Regina Rifle Regiments.
"My uncle . . . and the rest of the Regina Rifles soldiers didn't insult their fellow soldiers by killing German prisoners of war, much less scalping them.
"Regina Rifles, those that landed in Normandy, were comprised of many, many native soldiers who were trappers, hunters, fishers, labourers, and young men who walked out to join the Canadian military and served with honour and the racist comments (scalping) are doing them a disservice."
Canadian historians scoff at Wieviorka's claim.
Scott Sheffield, a history professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbottsford, B.C., has spent 15 years researching the role of aboriginals in the Canadian army of the Second World War.
"I have spoken to many indigenous and non-indigenous veterans, read widely across the literature, delved into virtually every archival source on the subject, and have never encountered such a case,'' he said.
He said he was "stunned'' to see such an accusation made without supporting evidence.
"I can imagine that such claims might have been imagined by military or media commentators of that day and age, given the racial assumptions about the Indian that prevailed in Canadian, and also German, society. But to reproduce that imaginative historical stereotyping in a supposedly objective modern historical work, especially without substantiation, is appalling.''
Whitney Lackenbauer, an historian from the University of Waterloo who has also studied native participation in the military, was equally dismissive.
"I have never heard any such allegations — and I presume that I would have given my extensive work on aboriginal people in the world wars," he said.
"The unsubstantiated rumours peddled by authors like Wieviorka — who fail to even cite their sources — should be dismissed with the disdain that they deserve."
Terry Copp, professor emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University and author of two well-received books on the Canadian army in Normandy and northwest Europe, scorned Wieviorka's claim as "just garbage without evidence."
"When I was working on the book on the Regina Rifles, who had a significant number of aboriginal and Metis soldiers, especially in D company, commanded by my co-author, the late Gordon Brown, there was not a hint of this and nothing but admiration for the behaviour of these soldiers.
"Stories like these get handed around and embellished."
Dean Oliver, director of research at the Canadian War Museum, said the lack of attribution for the claim is telling.
"I’d be extremely wary, as anecdotal references often have legs that travel stubbornly disconnected from factual bodies,'' he said.
"There are, of course, some documented instances of prisoner mistreatment by Allied forces in northwest Europe . . . but none that I’ve seen which demonstrate Canadian involvement or complicity in what your source appears to be describing."
A spokesman for the Royal Canadian Legion laughed at the allegation, saying he'd never heard of such a thing.
Wieviorka has written a number of books and articles on France under German occupation and on the wartime resistance movement.
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