Emir Abdelkader’s Legacy Lives On
April 14, 2019
Written by Michaela Hill
The more I discover about the life of Emir Abdelkader, the more I am constantly amazed at his ability to overcome difficult circumstances. He truly was able to overlook the differences he saw in people and values. He had a rare gift that enabled him to put the greater good above his personal preferences. This unique ability is demonstrated in so many areas of his life. He was able to unify different clans and families to fight the French for Algerian freedom. He was able to make peace and gain his enemies respect as a prisoner of war. Most importantly, he was able to overcome the differences between himself and the persecuted Christians in Damascus.
I cannot help but think that this spirit of resilience resides in Algeria’s people. He bestowed on his countrymen a sense of duty, courageousness, and an effort to vie for peace.
Perhaps it is because of this perspective that I have been so fascinated and impressed with Algeria’s participation during World War II. The actions and accomplishments of the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division are the most notable. This Division was formed in 1943 and was a division of the French Army. They fought valiantly and made many advances for the Allied powers, but not without great sacrifice and loss of life. Between the years of 1943 and 1945, this Algerian Division lost 3000 soldiers. The 3rd Algerian Infantry Division was involved in several important battles and campaigns, such as those fought in Southern France and definitive battles that aided in entering Germany, such as the Alsace battles. They were major contributors to the battle of Monte Cassino during the Italian Campaign, for which General Patton is so well known. The most trying and bloody event of the war for the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division came during the battles at the Vosges Mountains in 1944 where they were surrounded by German forces (algerianhistory, 2011). Sadly, this Algerian Division is seldom remembered or respected for their monumental contributions during World War II.
Many other divisions did excellent and selfless work during this time. Regardless, I find myself in awe of the Algerian Division. Algeria was still a French colony and had suffered years of imperialistic tyranny. It is fair to say that Algeria had an understandable “bone to pick” with France. However, the Algerian soldiers were able to set aside their grievances and fought nobly for the greater good of mankind. No amount of French pressure or authority could have caused the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division to fight so valiantly. That brand of courage and valor comes only from bold hearts and undaunted spirits.
I cannot help but feel that Abdelkader would have been very proud of the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division. He would have been able to identify with their struggles as well as their resolutions. Algeria has had a proud history and, as long as there are “Abdelkaders” and soldiers like those of the Algerian Division, Algeria will continue to live as proud people!
Algerianhistory, director. YouTube. YouTube, YouTube, 8 Dec. 2011, www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaHL8FhcZ4o&feature=youtu.be.
Michaela Hill is a 2017 Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize winner and is currently at Sam Houston State University, studying History and Business. She hopes to attend law school and become an environmental lawyer.