tv The Battle for North Africa During WWII CSPAN January 13, 2018 8:35am-10:01am EST
>> you can watch the entire lecture on dr. martin luther king, jr.'s early years this coming monday at 8:00 eastern here on american history tv. >> on november 8, 1942, british and american forces launched operation torch, the invasion of byth africa then occupied nazi germany and vichy france. she tells about her book, ."estination casablanca both co-hosted this 90-minute event. it is my pleasure this afternoon to introduce our speaker, meredith hindley, who is the author of the new book,
"destination casablanca," recently published by public affairs. she is a historian and a senior writer for the magazine, "humanities," which is the quarterly review of the national endowment for the humanities and among her scholarly credits are articles in holocaust and genocide studies and intelligent -- intelligence and national security. she has also written for the new york times, salon, long reads and other periodicals. she received her phd from american university and today, she will be speaking on the new a book, "destination casablanca." meredith hindley. >> thank you all for coming this afternoon. i would like to thank the wilson center and the national history center for inviting me to give this talk today.
i want to start not with africa,ca and not with but with another invasion during the war. d-day. when we think about world war ii and when world war ii shows up in popular culture, it is often d-day. the sort of brave, heroic moment when the allies, the americans and the western allies -- we always talk about in terms of the americans, they stormed the beaches of normandy and they liberate france from the germans. but there is another invasion during world war ii. when americans stormed the beaches of french territory to liberate a populace. that is operation torch which takes place in november of 1942. but we don't talk about torch in the same way that we talk about d-day.
in fact, the 75th anniversary of torch just passed. there was not very much talk about it. in a few places you may have , seen an article or two but i can guarantee that when the 75th anniversary of d-day comes it , will be a juggernaut. so, why don't we talk about operation torch in the same terms that we talk about d-day? why is this operation not part of the heroic mythmaking that has come to embrace world war ii? i would like to talk about that, today. and i would like to talk about how the americans ended up in north africa. let's start with casablanca itself. it is a port city in africa on the atlantic coast. it was founded in the 11th century, probably by the berbers.
and by the 15th century, it had grown into a minor fishing village that was popular with pirates. it was also popular with traders, particularly the spanish and portuguese. and they were the ones who gave it the name "casablanca" because way when you would sail into casablanca, you would see the white houses lining the harbor. casablanca would remain a minor port. the portuguese would come, they got tired of the moroccan pirates attacking them. they would build a casbah which is actually what you see here. and then they would leave. ,casablanca would again come under the control of the sultan and dynasty. the sultan in the 18th century
decided that maybe he should start investing in casablanca to also drive trade to the interior of morocco. but that did not really help, because tangiers to the north would be the most important port and continue to be most important port into the 20th century. all of that would change when the french took over morocco. now the moroccans had managed to hold off european powers that for a very long time. in fact, they were one of the last holdouts in africa. but in the early 20th century, that would change and morocco would be divided up into three. at the top, you would see spanish morocco, a little sliver that would be given to spain. tangiers would become an international free zone, a trade zone open to everybody. and the southern three quarters
would become the french protectorate of morocco. the french would grasp onto the existing political architecture in morocco their , own version of colonialism. they would control morocco's economics, diplomacy, military. essentially, take control of morocco without replacing every structure that already existed as they had in algeria. this is a picture of an army officer and he is in charge of french morocco at the beginning of world war ii. in standing with him is the sultan and his son. the sultan would be allowed to maintain authority over his subjects' spiritual life. he would also be a liaison with other powerful families in morocco.
again, the french were in charge. and they would take morocco and they would use it to enhance both their colonial holdings and to do what they could to enhance economically as well. so casablanca would benefit from the arrival of the french. in the upper left-hand corner, there is a picture of casablanca in 1900. it was a bit of a wild west town. a lot of dirt streets, not particularly modernized, the french would come in and they would do to casablanca what they did to paris in the 19th century. they would create boulevards and they would create apartment blocks. and they would essentially go through and build a new, white colonial city. the other three pictures are pictures of various boulevards in casablanca. and you can see this growth of
this french city. they managed to avoid a typical oriental fantasia in terms of architecture. but they would fuse the white exterior with art deco flourishes until you end up with this beautiful, white, colonial city. i need to be clear here that this white colonial city was meant for the french and europeans, not for the moroccans. this is casablanca in 1940. in the upper left-hand corner is the old medina that is this incredibly compact place. old medina had existed for hundreds of years. and you can see in the lower three fourths of this photo, this is what the french built in 30 years. and up on the right, you can see the port. casablanca would go from 67,000
people in 1916 to 350,000 people by 1940. it was all driven by the port. when france did the treaty in and france got the lower three 1912 fourths of morocco, they were kind of annoyed because what they really wanted was tangiers. tangier was the most important port on the atlantic in africa. it was a massive trade hub, not -- also glamorous. they wanted it. this was the jewel of morocco. they didn't get it. so instead, they decided to turn casablanca into the largest port on the atlantic in africa and that is precisely what they did over 30 years. so this is the port in 1942, this is an aerial shot. you can see how big it is. they built it out so they can
accept massive traffic, more shipping traffic, they improve the fishing facilities. they also launch a campaign from which there are a lot of lovely posters. to try and encourage people to come to casablanca instead of tangiers. it did not really work because people would get off in casablanca and despite the fact it was a lovely white city, it did not have the charm of 10 jews. -- of tangiers. be the bigntinue to port for morocco. the port is why the refugees come to casablanca. the port is why americans come to casablanca. before we get to that we need to , have germany invade france. in spring of 1940, germany would invade western europe and march into france.
morocco would answer the call and it would send five to fight in france. they would be stationed along this line and they are also in flanders and along the river. france is defeated by mid-june. and we get the rise of the vichy. this was part of the german armistice and the northern part of france including paris which becomes occupied by the germans, the south becomes vichy. it becomes known as vichy because this is where the capital lives. armisticeart of the gets to keep control of the colonies in north africa. that means that the french protectorate of morocco answers to vichy france.
--'t have a grave effect that would have a grave effect on its trajectory during war. the german invasion would create a massive refugee crisis in europe and in france and it would cause 6 million and anyone else who feared the germans who flee south. they would hop across the mediterranean to marseille. generally, marseille was the place to go. toy would get a boat algeria, iran, or casablanca. sometimes they would get on a train and get to casablanca from there. casablanca would become a major waystation for refugees. in july of ships arrive off the 1940, 200 coast of casablanca
bearing refugees. it is a massive humanitarian crisis at the port. it would take weeks for those ships to offload the refugees. the protectorate would set up sheds at the port to provide food, clothing, medicine, medical care. they would also establish a makeshift internment camp outside of the town to process all of the refugees. country that sent men off to fight in france now found itself accepting refugees who were trying to flee france. at the center of the refugee crisis, what would become an eight to the refugees is the u.s. consulate. in 1940, the u.s. consulate had a staff of six. it was small, intentionally small because they were just over 100 americans in all of french morocco. businessmen, singer
sewing machine, douglas aircraft. there were also some missionaries, the diplomatic corps, plus their children, that there just were not a lot of americans which is why rick in the movie "casablanca" is an extraordinary character. it would have been rare to come across an american in casablanca. u.s. consulate would become a point of contact for the refugee. each day, more than 200 people would line up outside of the consulate, hoping to get a visa , to apply for a visa, to receive assistance. the consulate would help them book passage. they would tell them who not to book passage with because there were plenty of people looking to take their money. and there were captains who were willing to trade money, fact or
or whatever it would take to get passengers on their ship. and there were plenty of refugees who were willing to barter that. the consulate also told them where to sell their jewels so they could get a better price. but it was overwhelming for the diplomats. u.s. consul general would write to the state department in august 1940. the american consulate of the city has been the club for hundreds of people who could not get into the united states or canada but came to tell their stories to us and to each other. i suppose it was one of the few places where they did not get a cold shoulder and i do not regret that these forlorn people felt that at our office, they could at least here in friendly word. they had nearly wrecked us. one of the people would find a way to his office was arthur.
10 days before the germans invaded france, finished his book and mailed it to his publisher in london. when the germans arrived, he knew that he was in trouble. he was hungarian, communist known to be anti-nazi, he , already had problems with the french police. he knew that he was going to have problems with the germans. so he fled with his lover. after some close scrapes, including a brief moment of almost being sent to an internment camp, he was going to have to do something drastic. so, he joins the french foreign legion. because for the price of five years of service, you can get a brand-new name and disappear. here he is, the man known more for typing and smoking cigarettes who has now joined the french foreign legion
wearing the iconic hat. he gets a new name and disappears. he makes it to marseille where he joins up with bunch of british soldiers who are also trying to escape from france and they make their way off across the algiers. train andhey hopped a go to casablanca. from there, he wants to go north to lisbon and then on to britain. he has a problem though, he is no longer arthur cursor. he has a brand-new name and he doesn't have any paperwork. he shows up at the u.s. consulate and tells his story. he is backed up by a british spy master who is also working at casablanca who is in favor of him leaving as well. so, herbert gould issues him this emergency certificate for britain which allows him to leave for lisbon and eventually make it to the u.k.
on july 3, 1940 the british , would attack the french fleet in algeria. ,700 frenchave 129 soldiers dead. the british wanted the french to turn over the fleet because they were worried the germans would capture it. if the germans got a hold of it, that would mean they could take over the mediterranean. therefore, cutting off britain's way to the empire. meant thatca, that the brits, the canadians, the australians and the south africans would all have to leave
. and they would pack up their consulates, seal the doors, and make a run for the board before they were arrested. the u.s. consulate would take over affairs for britain and the commonwealth. not only do they have the refugees, they now have assumed responsibility for british affairs in casablanca. of which, there are a lot of british citizens who are stuck because they are not allowed to leave morocco. and they, too, begin to fall under french authority. in the fall of 1940, as the refugee population continues to grow and we have all of these foreigners running around morocco, the french protectorate opens up what would be the first of a series of internment camps, they take over an old french foreign legion camp in the south and they start putting refugees in it. now, how do you get into an internment camp? you get there because you're
considered to be a charge on the city of casablanca because you have run out of money and cannot pay for your residency permit anymore. that is why you wouldn't want to gamble your money at rick's cafe because you could be in casablanca a really long time. you can also end up there because you are british, hungarian, german, austrian, russian, or published. there were a lot of polish people in the internment camp but not surprisingly, they were also jewish. vichy would begin to infiltrate itself into french morocco. this is a ceremony in front of basically the justice palace in the central square. and that is a poster of martial the--the marshall hanging from the rampart. this is a ceremony to swear in
10,000 former veterans into the vichy organization. begin purging anyone from the bureaucracy who did not toe the line. if you are thought to be questionable and perhaps you didn't, you are out. anti-semitic legislation would also begin to arise, will that the mesh rules -- that were introduced in france would also find their way to morocco, although in a slyly watered-down people would lose their professions, they would lose their businesses. and in the fall of 1941, they would be told that the jews that lived in the european section would be told that they have to move into the old jewish quarters in the city throughout morocco. casablanca, there was no room. the jews did not move. but slowly, but surely, their
lives, the lives of the moroccan jews, were slowly being chipped away. the fact that britain and france have severed relations creates an opening for someone to step in to broker. that would be franklin roosevelt , who always likes to juggle and to play a game. roosevelt would decide that someone needed to keep open relations with the she. -- vichy. someone needed to keep to talk to them because he really believed that they really weren't going to go all in on a collaboration with germany. that is sort of naive, but that is what he thought he thought someone needed to talk to them. robert murphy would set up the american consulate or embassy in enter thebegin to
wonderland of vichy in which relations and business meetings were conducted in hotels and opera houses in vichy because the city was not designed like paris to host a government. but robert murphy was tapped by roosevelt to go on a mission. reports had been leaking out that french africa needed medicine, gasoline because , extractions had begun. there were no germans -- german troops in french morocco. but, the german armistice commission had arrived and it had begun to send people and inventories of french morocco's resources had begun. what can be sent from french aidcco to france that could
the war effort? of course, that means that there is little left behind for the residents of french morocco. and so shortages began. sending reliefks to french north africa right away to perhaps open a dialogue. that dialogue he thought should be had with maxine weagad. he was a world war i hero. he had overseen part of the french war effort when france fell to the germans. he had also been one of the architects of vichy. however, he did not support or was reluctant to collaborate with the germans. he would be maneuvered out. they do not want to fire him because of his role in helping himound vichy, so he packed
after north africa and makes him high commissioner of north africa. roosevelt can't believe that this honorable general would really collaborate with the germans. and he thought some sort of entree could be offered and that relief might be the way to do it. so he sends robert murphy in december and january and december of 1940 and january of 1941 on an inspection tour. so, murphy goes on the --tour."n to her and that is in quotation marks because because wherever he goes -- he runs around french morocco, he goes to casablanca, he goes to tangiers, algeria. they do strike a deal, it is
called the north african economic program. a very bland sounding program. written is not keen on this idea because it revolves around sending supplies for the blockade. britain feels that you have very few weapons available to them and if the americans start sending anderson through the blockade, you're going to dilute it. as part of the agreement, they decide to send inspectors to north africa. and there would be 12 of them. that is how they become known as the apostles. any 12 men to send to french north africa to basically keep an eye on the shipments that are going to arrive. the idea is that the men would go down to the port, inspect the ships and then they would watch , could come out and then they would make sure to follow the supplies and make sure they went into morocco instead of going to
be put back on another boat and sailing north to france and then later into germany. but when they looked around for men to send, a realized they had a problem. there was no one in the entire military establishment that spoke arabic. french morocco was primarily an arabic speaking country. but they did find men who spoke french. in particular, two men would become key to the operation out of casablanca. stafford reed is a world war i veteran. he worked on intelligence during the war. and in the interim, he basically minded his real estate portfolio in new york. but he was looking around for something to do, a way to get involved with the war. so he was tapped.
dave king, it is almost like a novel with his career. he left harvard in the middle of world war i, signed up with the french foreign legion, fought in france. and then would join with the americans when the americans entered the war. he was also involved in intelligence in the 1920's and 1930's. he did some adventuring in ethiopia and central asia, collected a number of wives. and again, minded his trust fund. but dave king was also looking for a way to get involved in the war. so staff reed and dave came are -- dave king are sent to casablanca to inspect the ship's that are going to arrive as part of the north african trade agreement. they are posted first as vice consuls in the consulate. even though they worked for the state department, it is very clear to everybody the french, , the americans, the british
, that they were also going to be spies. the americans did not have an intelligence network in north africa. the americans for centuries had relied on the british and the french to provide any intelligence that it needed about north africa. it was just not a fear of the sphere it just was not a of interest to the americans. so they didn't have contacts, they didn't have people on the ground. dave king and staff reed become the beginnings of that. over the next few months and years, they would establish networks within morocco and in casablanca. they would know who was a collaborator, who was a resistor, who they could depend upon for information. stone -- they stole the order
of battle from morocco which would let everyone know where all of the troops are. they mapped all of the ports and .he coastline an helped establish a communications network for the americans that would connect the consulate with tangier and then with iran and algeria. king, his specialty became working with the resistance in french morocco. the fact that he had been in the french foreign legion was a terrific entree. he could use that service and particularly the army officers would respect him for that. now, their arrival in french morocco would also coincide with the evolution of american intelligence during the war in general. following the american entry into the war with the bombing of pearl harbor, the apostles would
be absorbed by the coordinator of information the organization , founded by william donovan. and of course later, since 1942, when donovan is successful in having roosevelt authorize the office of strategic services, they would again be absorbed under that organization. so in this sense, you have these spies on the ground setting up these spy network, but they are also evolving with american intelligence during the war. one of their assets was josephine baker. baker, of course, had gone to paris in the 1920's to make her career because an african-american woman found it hard to make her way in the united states due to prejudice, but in paris, she was welcomed open arms and toasted and embraced. she became a favorite of the french. which meant that everyone wanted
to talk to josephine baker. erupted baker ii , wanted to do something and she made contact with french intelligence. and after the fall of france, she would make contact with the free french in the french resistance and she would go to work spying for them. she would leave vichy and head to north africa. the idea was she would end up in morocco. and from morocco, she would travel to lisbon and spain, where she would perform and meet important people because everybody wanted to talk to josephine baker. nazi officials, spanish officials, french officials would be indiscreet. she would take the information that inected and write invisible ink on her sheet music
and it would be transported back to the french resistance. unfortunately, baker's health would take a turn for the worse and she would end up in a clinic in casablanca. everybody would then want to visit miss baker to find out how she was. so her hospital room became a collection point for intelligence. and that intelligence would be fed on to first staff read, and then another member of the oss. so, the americans are in africa. the americans are in casablanca. they are spying. how exactly did the americans -- how exactly does a force of 33,000 americans show up off the coast and decide to invade? well, we can blame these two. in the summer of 1942, roosevelt and churchill met here in
washington at their second washington conference, and they were debating what to do. following the american entry into the war, roosevelt made a commitment to germany first. europe would be the priority for the american war effort. there was a problem. there was not enough men and material in 1942 to invade france. it simply was not possible. there were not enough men in uniform, which meant that roosevelt and churchill were looking for other options to the second front. churchill had this idea that the allies should go to north africa. because from north africa, they could springboard into, as he would call it, the soft underbelly of europe.
they could springboard to southern france. they could springboard to italy. they could springboard to sicily and to greece. they could also turn it into a logistical hub for the united states. supplies could go to london in the north to britain in the , north, london, and in the south, they could go to casablanca and use the port. from the port, they could ship supplies north on the railway line to algiers and iran. the idea was north africa would become a logistical have an springboard for the southern allied attack on germany. over the next few to come to they would debate exactly where they should invade. there is an incredible debate that goes on. dwight eisenhower is put in charge of the operation.
he is in london and he essentially is trying to figure out what to do with this operation while roosevelt and churchill are playing strategist, as they like to do. and where to invade would be settled over the course of a two-week exchange of telegrams between roosevelt and churchill at the end of august and beginning of september in 1942. eisenhower would later refer to it as the transatlantic essay contest. when the dust settled, the allies decided, the brits and the americans decided, they would come ashore in morocco, with casablanca as the primary objective so they could take the port. they would come ashore in algiers at iran and they would also come ashore in algeria at algiers.
what you see on this graphic is what is known as the western half of the force would come for morocco. the center task force comes for iran and the eastern task force comes for algiers. so the western task force comes for casablanca. at the end of october, a naval force would depart from five different places. an mend be carrying 33000 under the command of george patton. you may have heard of him. these five small fleets would then meet in the middle of the atlantic ocean and form another, 3 shipsfleet of 100
that would be 120 miles by 30 miles wide, and it would sail for morocco. to keep it secret -- they would not use radio. and instead, during the day, they would use signal flags to communicate changes in the course. at night, if they needed to do a course adjustment, they would sail between the ships. the fleet manages to slip across the atlantic undetected. i want you to stop and think about this for a moment. in the age of satellites, in the age of knowing everything and being able to see everything, we have a massive invasion fleet sailing across the atlantic that is undetected by the germans, despite the fact there is a massive battle going on in the atlantic. a submarine battle going on in the atlantic. the fleet would, of course, be committed by admiral kit hewitt who is the man laughing with his , eyes closed here.
and to the left, admiral george patton who would command the western task force. before the americans arrived, there are a couple attempts to get the resident general of morocco to surrender. it does not work. murphy tries in october. and in the hours before the americans are off the coast, the commander of the casablanca division and a member of the french resistance -- he is a french general, again -- tries to get him to surrender. he does not agree. it's 2:00 in the morning. he has been woken him. he has been woken up. he does not believe there is an american invasion fleet off the coast of morocco. it does not make any sense. the americans would not be that stupid. they really would not be that stupid because in november, the atlantic ocean is only calm one out of every five or six days.
that means if you try to put men ashore in wooden boats, they are likely to be smashed on the rocky coastline. the french were so confident that no one would ever try and amphibious invasion that they sent men who normally guarded the coast to the interior in the winter. it did not make any sense. but the americans were coming. and in fact, this is a copy of a flyer that is sent. basically, casablanca is blanketed with this flyer in the morning when the americans are about to come ashore. it's urging the citizens of casablanca not to fight and join the americans. the americans would come ashore at three different places. they would come ashore at madea in the north. fedala.
north of casablanca. and in the south. they did not come ashore at casablanca because it was too heavily guarded. over the next three days, the center group and the troops that, sure -- that come ashore from safi would close from the north and the south. the northern group at mehdia has a much harder time and gets bogged down in the invasion. and yes, the french fight. the french fight the americans. they defend morocco. he issues a general alert. the troops mobilize. and they fight the americans. casablanca, of course, is a port, which means that ships from the french fleet are stationed there and they come
out to fight the and you get the naval battle of casablanca which takes place over two days. the american sink the french fleet based at casablanca, while not suffering any damages. the french casualties would be -- 490 sailors are killed and 969 are wounded. the admiral who controls the french fleet would call casablanca a cemetery by the time the americans are done. patents task force the less ton's task force' with some help from u.s. navy would take morocco in 74 hours. casablanca was scheduled to be bombed on the morning of november 11 starting at 7:30 a.m.
they would surrender morocco and casablanca at 6:40 in the morning, barely avoiding bombing the city. they would sign an armistice on november 11, 1942, another momentous day, because it's the day in which world war i would end. and every french soldier and american soldier in the room for that armistice had fought in world war i. so -- it seems great. we have this momentous victory. it's doing really great. american troops have come ashore at iran. they have taken the city. they came ashore at algiers. they take the city in one day. what does bad? it's fantastic. it's a great allied victory. the americans have done wonderfully. everything goes haywire when it comes to signing the armistice for french north africa because of john francois darlan.
he is one of the most hated men in vichy. he happens to be in algiers when the americans come ashore. he is not there to spoil plans. he is there to visit his son who has polio and happens to find him there as they start to try to negotiate with the french officials in algiers. mark clark arrives hoping to sign an armistice and discovers no one wants to deal with the man of the hour, the man the allies have chosen to lead north africa, henri giraud. he is a world war i hero. he recently escaped from a pow camp in germany. he has been chosen by the allies and the french resistance to lead french north africa. but no one will follow him.
the french army will not follow him. the french army controls north africa. they will not follow him because they think he is a traitor. because he has betrayed his fellow soldiers. he has betrayed the core because they valued loyalty to the corps even before they valued loyalty to vichy. so mark clark finds himself dealing with darlan, and eisenhower flies to algiers to sign the final agreement. they sign the agreement with darlan that keeps the existing vichy leadership in charge of french north africa. darlan would become the head of french north africa and giraud would become head of the army. when the headlines started
leaking to the united states and britain, people could not believe it. how could the americans and british do a deal with darlan? he was the most hated man in europe. but it was done for military expediency. this is a case of how you win the battle but lose the peace, or at least the p.r. campaign afterwards. roosevelt is so flummoxed by what has come out of algiers, he would later tell eisenhower he was worried they were all turning fascist. what was it about north africa that turned people fascist, that would make them make a deal with someone like darlan? it was simply military expediency. the americans and the british did not bring enough troops to properly occupy north africa. they had been told if they showed up, the french populace and french army would rise up and they would welcome the
allies with open arms and join with the allies. and that did not happen. in fact, the french and moroccan populace were kind of indifferent because the war had finally come to north africa in a way it had not. and then you have the leadership of the french who do not want to join at all. eisenhower really wants to secure french morocco and algiers and move into tunisia, because part of the reason they were coming to north africa was to help the brits in tunisia to counter rommel. so eisenhower agrees to this deal. he would later write, one week later after signing the darlan deal, he would write george marshall -- i value this aid more than the active participation of their troops. we have these advantages through the influence of the entire group with which we have worked. i value this aid.
what is this aid? eisenhower came to casablanca to watch french and americans work together to unload 30,000 troops in 13 hours on the second convoy that had arrived in casablanca. for eisenhower, this is worth everything because the logistical lines he badly needs to keep american troops supplied are going to come true. there are 140 americans in french morocco. by the end of there are more 1942, than 60,000 american troops. it is a huge increase. and they were everywhere. americans were popping their tents in town squares. so, the movie. we are going to have to talk about the movie.
warner bros. could not believe it's luck because they opened up the newspaper and there are headlines about this place called casablanca. casablanca was not well known to the american public until the american invasion of north africa. but here are headlines talking americans in casablanca, talking about the navy, talking about patton. by coincidence, warner bros. had a movie in the can about casablanca. the movie finished shooting in the summer of 1942. they were going to do a wide release in early 1943. instead they moved up the , release and did the premier on november 26, 1942. in case you are wondering why you have seen so much about the movie lately, it is because the anniversary was just this past week. the movie would have another place in history because roosevelt would watch it on new year's eve 1942.
before he headed to casablanca for the casablanca conference, which would take place between january 24 and generally 1943. 25, roosevelt -- there was a need after the invasion to think about what they were going to do for 1943 and roosevelt said he would be happy to come somewhere -- he would be happy to come to africa. they originally talked about other places. roosevelt did not want to go somewhere cold. he hoped also he would have a chance to see the troops. they settled on casablanca because it had -- they could find a hotel, they could find surrounding villas. it was also not likely to be bombed by the germans, which was definitely a possibility with algiers. men set it up.
the conference takes place in the suburb of casablanca. they create a compound surrounded by barbed wire. the hotel is at the center. there are surrounding villas. they would create their own phone system. they would bring in all of their own food. they would have a store. the british would sail in a headquarters ship and park it off the coast. anytime the americans objected to anything, the brits would run down to the shore and grab a piece of paper and prove that is what they agreed on before. so over the course of 10 days, the americans and the brits would get together and debate what to do. roosevelt would also get the chance to see the troops as he intended. and he would spend an entire day driving up the coast to visit troops in he would also go up to mehdia and see where the
fighting had occurred. over the 10 days, the joint chiefs of staff would meet 18 times for formal meetings. there were also informal meetings, cocktails, walks on the beaches. they would discuss in formal ways of what to do. and they would decide in casablanca to continue combat german submarines to invade , sicily and italy. they recommitted to the europe first strategy. they would also think about getting turkey into the war on the side of the allies. what you probably know forblanca war for -- more the festivities, there was also a dinner with the sultan of morocco and their guest, the resident general. it was hosted by roosevelt. there was no alcohol.
for churchill and roosevelt, that was a problem because they both loved cocktails. there was a little pre-gaming beforehand, and it is rumored that churchill snuck off in the middle of dinner to have a drink. it would be attended by patton, robert murphy, harry hoffman. the sultan would bring his son who had a big crush on patton. he thought he was amazing. along with two of his advisers. during the dinner, roosevelt am the sultan got into a long conversation about how the americans might be able to help morocco. the sultan was interested in educational opportunities. he did not like that moroccans were so dependent on the french. so roosevelt, in his roosevelt way, starts brainstorming. we could help you with education. we could help you with science. we can help you with agriculture. churchill, who is definitely a fan of colonialism and colonies,
got very grumpy during the meal. in particular, his french was not great but he knew enough to know what that conversation was about. the general could only hear snippets and he, too, was angry. unfortunately the sultan took , from this dinner that the americans were interested in perhaps supporting independence. the americans were not in a position to do that and in fact they would later downplay any indications that they were. because disrupting the french rule in morocco at that moment and in successive years was not in the interest of the allies or the french. it was definitely status quo. nevertheless, the moroccan nationalist movement inspired by
what they had seen with the americans would officially relaunch during the war. it had been stomped out in the 1930's. it would coalesce again january 1944. the resistance movement would publish a manifesto announcing it was once again for independence and a little more than 10 years later morocco would gain his independence from the french. you might actually know casablanca a little bit better for this meeting. roosevelt and churchill also tried to get de gaulle and giraud together. there were two factions. one faction wanted henri giraud and another faction was headed up by charles de gaulle. degaulle had not been told about the invasion. he did not know about it. even though they were invading
another french colony. churchill said it was better to withhold. at the conference they would try to orchestrate what they would call a shotgun wedding, and they actually used those terms, are between giaud and degaulle -- giraud and degaulle to put the french resistance movement together and that did not go so well. this meeting would also be followed by the announcement the allies were going to pursue unconditional surrender. when people talk about because
of conference, usually the idea that roosevelt announces during the press conference the allies are going to do unconditional surrender. it was not planned. in fact, giraud was so shocked by it, his head went around like, you said what? it was suggested that they put out a press release. roosevelt, however, just blurted it out. churchill wanted to preserve the appearance of unity between the brits in the americans, decided not to argue with roosevelt in front of reporters that had been gathered. until that press conference occurred, the casablanca conference had been a secret. roosevelt, churchill, and the rest of them had managed to sneak off without attracting dust without information being leaked to both the british and the american public about where they were. after they had been gone for a while it was pretty clear something was up.
you can't have senior officials disappear from washington. you can have senior officials disappear from britain, from london and not have people start to speculate. there was no way, however, they believed anybody was in casablanca. so, when the press corps was brought to casablanca and the doors opened, they were just shocked. one of the amazing things about the casablanca conference, particularly in today's world where everything is tweeted and we feel like we need to know every movement of our president every single day that roosevelt could disappear for almost three weeks. it would take five days to get to casablanca biplane and another five days to get back. he was essentially gone for most of january. the americans would stick around a morocco for the rest of the war. casablanca itself would become a logistical hub to help with seven europe. they would send the soldiers
back to the united states at the end of the war. ok, i will finish up with the movie. the movie, of course, is a nice piece of hollywood back what magic. they did not shoot it in casablanca. sorry. it was shot on a lot. there are key elements to the film that are actually reflected in history and they actually get certain things right. the tension between resisting and collaborating, what side are you on? that is a big, big theme of north africa. the plight of the refugees, about how to get out, how you get there, what happens when you
get there, how does one get out of casablanca -- they got that right, to you well. also, the notion that people can change sides. so in this photo, rick is shaking the hand -- actually, rick is pointing begun -- pointing the gun. we think he is the head of the security in casablanca. he's definitely a vichy official. there is no way that they could have known that the official link has a blog a member of the resistance. he would bailed they have king out of jail couple times. he would help dave king bail his resistance contacts out of jail. it actually contains quite a few elements of history. thank you very much. [applause]
>> so, now we moved to our question, discussion time. just the basic ground rules. of course, use the microphone so everyone can hear you. would someone like to start us off? yes. >> thank you very much -- >> and you are? >> my name is dave kirk. i want to go back to the meeting with the sultan. i wonder if you can say more about what the impact of the american presence in morocco is on the moroccans and the way in which they may have been
transformed or reshaped by the war. do you have much sense -- ms. hindley: one thing that becomes clear from the americans invading is the french are not as all-powerful as they have projected themselves to be. it also provides a rallying point cause part of the allies, particularly the west -- four roosevelt and churchill, there is this notion that they are essentially liberating people from an oppressive regime, which the moroccans that point thought the french were an oppressive regime. it lights a spark a bit. they would form what is essentially the roosevelt club
in morocco. this happens later in the war. the french and the moroccans don't usually socialize together -- out in public at least. it becomes a place where they can meet, exchange ideas. this is one of the reasons -- they thought they had a better chance of the french allowing them to stay than maybe the moroccans allowing them to stay. but the ties between morocco and the united states continue to this day. rocco is one of our best allies in the war on terror. the ties are closed. and it partly springs from that meeting with the sultan and
roosevelt. and also -- i don't want to make it sound like the moroccan independence movement was basically a product of the americans because it's not. it is a homegrown movement. it is drawn from intellectuals in 1944, but also other groups that come together to rise up and basically a certain themselves. >> you have written a book and the story is about the invasion ultimately and the liberation, later, of europe.
i'm not suggesting that you do this, but could you envision an alternative volume that somebody else writes -- you can move on to a different subject -- that would tell the story from the perspective of the moroccans themselves? i'm going to imagine that they did not necessarily appreciate french colonialism in the way that french did, so their experience of the war is very different from the french or americans. put another author -- could another author write an account from the perspective of the moroccans and if so, what would that look like? ms. hindley: yes. they absolutely could.
in a sense because the french were in charge, because they ruled morocco, and meant the political decisions and military decisions were made essentially by the french. but that means the moroccans are more -- when it comes to the high level events unfolding -- i don't want to use the word i standers, but they are not directly involved in the story. they have lost family members in france. maybe one of their families one of the 19,000 p.o.w.'s kept by germany following the clash of france. you could write an alternative story about how the war affects them that way. there's another thread that comes out in terms of digging deeper in the story of moroccan jews and moroccan jewry. there is a gap when it comes to the war that has only been
filled in the last four or five years. because independent is so important to the moroccans, when scholars have dug in, particularly moroccan scholars, they have looked at 36-37 where there is a nationalist movement and they are clamped down. the leaders go into exile. then they kind of skip over the war and they start up again in 44. it is a great moment where everything coalesces again and you have the manifesto. and they spring forward again over that next decade. i would look forward to more scholars digging in. there are a ton of documents available.
the vichy records are kind of scattered. i admittedly do not speak arabic. that's a gap on my part. i will look forward to other scholars. if anyone needs a dissertation topic, let me know. i can suggest a few. prof. arnesen: gentlemen on the other side of the table and then we will move to the back. >> thanks. i am john lindberg from the u.s. naval academy. thanks for a fascinating presentation. what happened with the agreement with darlan that setup, preserved vichy control in north africa. how long did it last? ms. hindley: that's a really good question which i realize that i skipped over.
it is -- dar is assassinatedlan -- darlan is assassinated on christmas eve. 1942. so it lasts less than two months. it's not clear who assassinated him. a young man was recruited to carry out the task. he is not fired a gun until a few days before. we do not know who he was working with or for because the french immediately executed him. so, was it oss? i know. it's very convenient, isn't it? was it the oss? was at the free french? was it members of vichy that were upset that he was working with the americans and the british? it's unclear. a lot of folks speculate. it's hard to know who it is. at that point, giraud becomes the high commissioner of north africa and things do not change much.
the policies that have been put in place by vichy essentially stay in place. the french do this amazing, and i have to say very french, thing, were they say they cannot repeal the policies put in place until they study what the effects will be. so they are very sort of pokey about repealing them. that anger is a number of people because particularly it takes a while to get the anti-semitic legislation -- it would also have other effects. the allies wanted to empty the internment camps. they wanted them emptied and roosevelt made a commitment, but the french because of vichy leadership, the same bureaucrats
are in power. the french would delay, delay, delay and it would take almost nine months to empty the internment camps and send the refugees back on their way. prof. arnesen: there is a hand in the far back right there. i don't know how this would work -- >> i don't know how this would work. the vichy are still german allies. we invade. we leave them in power. we have a military operation going on in morocco under vichy rule. i don't understand how that would work. ms. hindley: the americans are an informal occupying force. we leave the bureaucratic structure in place. it is mind-boggling to be honest. but we did not show up with
enough personnel or soldiers to do regime change. >> we are conducting this operation and the vichy government is running everything. i am just thinking from a spy perspective -- i don't understand how you would do that. ms. hindley: yes, we leave the bureaucracy in place. but the americans -- there are american troops occupying and it's the same thing in algeria as well and the troops then, the forces are basically moving on into tunisia. yes, it is a tremendous opportunity for intelligence and spy gathering and for sabotage. but in morocco, for whatever -- it manages to work out.
it is incredible. they stay in power until the summer of 1943 and they move him out and someone else would come in. prof. arnesen: against the wall here. >> thank you. my name is jeff kidman, state department. great talk. you have touched a couple times on moroccan jewry. at the holocaust, it was taught not long ago, a year or two ago, in which the sultan, a guy i'm assuming was the same sultan, the national leader was somewhat at least -- i mean somewhat protective of moroccan jews. he did not cooperate. he said something like "now my subjects are all moroccans," or something like that. it was not primarily humanitarian thing, but it was part of the moroccan
independence, nationalist movement. can you talk a little bit more about dust do you have something more to say about moroccan jewry? ms. hindley: so, the sultan -- the sultan was very concerned about the moroccan jews and very concerned about how vichy legislation would affect them. he did make representations to guests and he did attempt to interfere in various places with their treatment. i want to make the point that there was never the point in morocco where they were rounded up. jews never had to wear stars on their clothes. we never got that far. if the war had proceeded further along -- if the americans had not arrived, things might have progressed that way. and it's not clear to me what at that point, what the sultan would have been able to do. because he sort of -- he has power -- he has more power.
>> can you speak to the motivation about why he took the stance he did when he did? ms. hindley: because he considers himself to be a protector of the jews. it is part of his role as sultan. it is also part of his role as being a descendent of mohammed. he is responsible for both -- for the jews as well as the followers of islam. >> [indiscernible] prof. arnesen: there is a hand on the side. >> actually be gentlemen back here asked to be question i was interested in about administration, but there were something i came across -- mike.
unaffiliated. there was something i came across which touched on at the very beginning that the germans reportedly had gotten information that roosevelt and churchill were meeting at casablanca. once it got through -- through, the understanding was they were meeting at the white house and washington, d.c. and did not pay a lot of attention to it. is that legend or is that fact? ms. hindley: you know, i read that story, and i decided not to run that one down. you know, i am just point to tell you, i don't actually know the answer to that. >> i thought it was interesting. ms. hindley: no, it's great. it would be a perfect example of a translation issue because it
would translate as casablanca white house, and the last time they met at the second washington conference was washington, d.c. at the white house and they were at the white house in december of 1941. it would make sense that they were there. prof. arnesen: here in the front. >> thank you. benjamin, no affiliation. your comments on the meeting or the conversation between roosevelt and the sultan bring to mind analogous meetings between the saudis and roosevelt on this battleship. we were looking at our possible future role in the region, including in palestine in which we were pretty significantly involved, in part because of the significance of the americans in this movement. which also brings to mind the missing person in the room that is stalin. of course, he was preoccupied
of presence did the soviets have in that theater? ms. hindley: so, stalin was invited to the conference, but he sent his regrets. he said he was too preoccupied on the eastern front. churchill had visited him in august of 1942 to deliver the news about the second front and that would be in north africa. he was not pleased. but they spent time drinking and they worked it out. i am actually serious. yes, he would have been interested. there were communists in casablanca. but there was not a super spy network. it was not particularly sophisticated. it would actually fire up after the americans arrived.
there would be a big resurgence of communism. there would be a lot of time writing memos, worrying about the influence of communism. in part because vichy had helped to push the communists underground. if your communist you could be sent to an internment camp, and also, the french colonial policy did not look fondly upon the communists, so they intended to stamp out that movement as well. >> if i can ask another question, the book excels in his narrative in your storytelling technique. it -- or narrative and your storytelling technique. it brings the city alive and many characters. it's really quite enjoyable indie gauging and it carries you along from beginning to end. so this is what i imagine would be a successful book with a trade publisher.
it's not an academic book. and if it were in academic book, the academic question would be, who are you arguing with? or how would you situate your findings in the broader historiographical field? are there people whose arguments you are engaging? or is this really the exploration of a period of time through this very engaging cast of characters? ms. hindley: all right, that's not a small question. i'm not arguing with anyone in particular. what i want to to do was write about casablanca during world war ii, and when i looked around -- so, i came to the topic because, like everyone, i had seen the movie. i would catch it here again on turner classic movies. i was in the archive doing
research -- actually my dissertation -- and i was looking for other things. the problem when you're doing research is you find other things. so i would run across references to casablanca and refugees and casablanca and internment camps and i -- that always stuck with me. i had to stay focused. when i was looking for a project, i decided to go back and look because i have those documents in mind. but then when i started looking at what was available, i was surprised to see there was not a lot on morocco during world war ii. it's an incredibly underwritten period. there's only a handful of books. it's starting to change. there has been a lot of work done on it in the last four or five years. there are a lot of familiar stories. there's not a lot of new stuff. so, in a sense, i was looking not so much at the argument, but to fill the gap.
writing exactly what happened in morocco during world war ii and also what happened in casablanca and what does it mean to -- and then as i started to write -- also what does it mean to be displaced as a transient and people come and they do not stay very long? and then -- so, i guess, you're right. i don't make a historiographical argument in the book, but i do not make any apologies for that.
i think anyone who picks it up will learn a lot about moroccan history, about casablanca, and also about the north african theater. it does not get the attention it deserves, but it is pivotal to the americans getting into europe and to understand what the rest of the war might be. >> thank you. prof. arnesen: other questions? well, with that, i will invite you to our reception right outside of this room. i will emphasize that the book is available outside for purchase, and the holidays are coming. and as i tried to make clear, it is an eminently readable book that perhaps relatives of yours very much might enjoy reading, and i will invite you back on december 11 for the final seminar of this season. they will speak on the book "the myth of independence: how congress governs the federal reserve." thank you to our participants and thank you to meredith hindley. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] >> you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of american history
to join the conversation, like us on facebook. each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country. the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri, has more than 300,000 artifacts. next, we learned about several items in the collection frhe