Carl Zuckmayer, German novelist and soldier was 17 when war was declared and five years latter he comitted his memories to paperIt was partly because of this inablity of soldiers from Asian and African colonies to understand the war that they were fighting that the price they paid was so high. Around 250,000 French colonial soldiers were killed. No one doubted their courage. It was one of the reasons they were always in the first wave of an assault, although racist arguments also played a part. To take one example, of the 5,000 Moroccan soldiers deployed at the Battle of the Marne, led by 103 French officiers, 4,250 were killed, or 85 per cent. Of their French officers 'only' 50 per cent lost their lives.
Horror at occasional acts by individual soldiers from the colonies is understandable, but grateful use was made of them. Their so-called barbarity was one reason for setting them unusually difficult tasks. German soldiers knew that they could expect no mercy from colonial troops, and this made them even more fearful of an attack. At the time of the occupation of the Rhineland in the interwar years, Zuckmayer remarked that such fears had been unfounded and that the Senegalese, and like all soldiers in those days, acted out of sheer terror