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Call for Papers

Special Issue on New Perspectives on World War Two In West Africa

Enock Ndawana and Mediel Hove


This article examines the role of traditional leaders during Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. Contrary to the generalisations that traditional leaders and their subordinates were either absolutely supportive of the liberation war or were against it supporting the Smith regime, this paper uses the case of Buhera District to demonstrate that traditional leaders and their subordinates contributed in various ways to Zimbabwe’s war of liberation. Guided by a combination of primary and secondary sources, the article argues that traditional leaders were in a dilemma because they were victims of the contending forces. However, they employed various survival tactics as they faced equally dangerous conflicting forces who put them in complex, ambiguous and contradictory relationships. The article concludes that the strategies and tactics employed by the Rhodesian Security Forces and the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army guerrillas had debilitating effects on traditional leaders and their subordinates during the liberation war.

“What Are They Observing?”

The Accomplishments and Missed Opportunities of Observer Missions in the Nigerian Civil War

Douglas Anthony


Three separate observer missions operated in Nigeria during the country’s 1967–1970 war against Biafran secession, charged with investigating allegations that Nigeria was engaged in genocide against Biafrans. Operating alongside UN and OAU missions, the four-country international observer group was best positioned to respond authoritatively to those allegations, but problems with the composition of the group and its failure to extend the geographical scope of its operations beyond Nigerian-held territory rendered its findings of limited value. This paper argues that the observer missions offer useful windows on several aspects of the war and almost certainly delivered some benefits to Biafrans, but also effectively abdicated their responsibility to Biafrans and the international community by allowing procedural politics to come before commitment to the spirit of the Genocide Convention.

Zoë Rose Buonaiuto

After the Battle of Normandy, one of the primary concerns in the region was what to do with the bodies of the former occupiers: the German war dead. As the Allied graves registration units left Normandy, local French leaders were responsible for the care of German war graves until the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, VDK) took over maintenance responsibilities in the mid-1950s and officially inaugurated them as VDK sites in the early 1960s. This essay traces that transition and argues that in the period between 1944 and 1964 it was necessary for Normandy and greater France to assume the role of host to German war dead in perpetuity. The act of hosting German war dead on French soil smoothed the conditions necessary for Franco-German reconciliation in the second half of the 20th century.