Guide Occupation: The Ordeal of France 1940-1944

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Food, fuel, leather and other vital goods were slowly bled from the country. Thousands of French workers were conscripted to work in German arms factories. And Vichy leaders, hoping to win Hitler's respect for France and a place for her in the new European order, eagerly contributed to the Final Solution by shipping thousands of native and foreign-born Jews to Auschwitz.

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Well researched without being scholarly, ''Occupation'' is highly perceptive in its analysis of France's political convulsions and of major figures like the Vichy head of state, Marshal Petain; Vichy's Prime Minister, Pierre Laval; and the galvanizing Free French leader in exile, Charles de Gaulle. Ousby demolishes the Gaullist myth of a coherent, heroic Resistance movement. Only during the Allied sweep across France from June to August , he maintains, did the Resistance play any military role at all.

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Chris Patsilelis. At night, inhabitants had to abide a curfew and it was forbidden to go out during the night without an Ausweis. They had to close their shutters or windows and turn off any light, to prevent Allied aircraft using city lights for navigation. The experience of the Occupation was a deeply psychologically disorienting one for the French as what was once familiar and safe suddenly become strange and threatening. The scenes look not just unreal, but almost deliberately surreal, as if the unexpected conjunction of German and French, French and German, was the result of a Dada prank and not the sober record of history.

This shock is merely a distant echo of what the French underwent in seeing a familiar landscape transformed by the addition of the unfamiliar, living among everyday sights suddenly made bizarre, no longer feeling at home in places they had known all their lives. Ousby wrote that by the end of summer of "And so the alien presence, increasingly hated and feared in private, could seem so permanent that, in the public places where daily life went on, it was taken for granted". With nearly 75, inhabitants killed and , tons of bombs dropped, France was, after Germany, the second most severely bomb-devastated country on the Western Front of World War II.

The Allies' Transportation Plan aiming at the systematic destruction of French railway marshalling yards and railway bridges, in , also took a heavy toll on civilian lives. For example, the 26 May bombing hit railway targets in and around five cities in south-eastern France, causing over 2, civilian deaths. Propaganda was present in education to train the young people with the ideas of the new Vichy regime. However, there was no resumption in ideology as in other occupied countries, for example in Poland , where the teaching elite was liquidated.

Teachers were not imprisoned and the programs were not modified overall.

Occupation

In the private Catholic sector, many school directors hid Jewish children thus saving their life and provided education for them until the Liberation. A wide array of German units were rotated to France to rest and refit; the Germans used the motto "Jeder einmal in Paris" "everyone once in Paris" and provided 'recreational visits' to the city for their troops. The curfew in Paris was not upheld as strictly as in other cities. Reinhardt was even invited to play for the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. During the German occupation, a forced labour policy, called Service du Travail Obligatoire "Obligatory work service, STO" , consisted of the requisition and transfer of hundreds of thousands of French workers to Germany against their will, for the German war effort.

In addition to work camps for factories, agriculture, and railroads, forced labour was used for V-1 launch sites and other military facilities targeted by the Allies in Operation Crossbow. Beginning in , many refused to be drafted to factories and farms in Germany by the STO, going underground to avoid imprisonment and subsequent deportation to Germany.

There were German reprisals against civilians in occupied countries; in France, the Nazis built an execution chamber in the cellars of the former Ministry of Aviation building in Paris. Many Jews were victims of the Holocaust in France. Approximately 49 concentration camps were in use in France during the occupation, the largest of them at Drancy. Overall, according to a detailed count drawn under Serge Klarsfeld , slightly below 77, of the Jews residing in France died during the war, overwhelmingly after being deported to death camps.

While horrific, the mortality rate was lower than in other occupied countries e. The yellow Star of David made mandatory by the Vichy regime in France. Sign outside a restaurant in Paris, rue de Choiseul.

The French Resistance: How Resistant?

French Jewish women wearing the yellow badge. Adolf Hitler strolling in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris, 23 June Execution chamber inspected by a Parisian policeman and members of the FFI after the liberation.


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German road signs in occupied Paris. The Feldgendarmerie was responsible for military traffic. German soldiers and captured communists , July The Liberation of France was the result of the Allied operations Overlord and Dragoon in the summer of Most of France was liberated by September Some of the heavily fortified French Atlantic coast submarine bases remained stay-behind "fortresses" until the German capitulation in May The Free French exile government declared the re-establishment of a provisional French Republic , ensuring continuity with the defunct Third Republic.

Thanks to Lend-Lease , it was well equipped and well supplied despite the economic disruption brought by the occupation, and it grew from , men in the summer of to more than 1.

The French 2nd Armored Division , tip of the spear of the Free French forces that had participated in the Normandy Campaign and had liberated Paris on 25 August , went on to liberate Strasbourg on 23 November , thus fulfilling the Oath of Kufra made by General Leclerc almost four years earlier. The unit under his command, barely above company -size when it had captured the Italian fort, had grown into a full-strength armoured division. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other occupations, see Military occupation of France. Not to be confused with French occupation zone.

Further information: French Resistance. The Unfree French: Life under the Occupation 1st ed. London: Allen Lane. Geschichte in German. France: the dark years, Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 October Paris: Le Seuil. Connecticut College. Dear; Foot German Army Propaganda Units". War Department.

Retrieved 28 August Retrieved 15 December Louise Despert. L'Express in French. Retrieved 23 October Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 18 April Imlay; Duffy Toft, Monica 24 January Routledge, Administrative divisions in Nazi Germany and German occupations. General Government. Bohemia and Moravia. French protectorate of Tunisia Kingdom of Egypt.

The French Resistance: How Resistant?

Adriatic Littoral Alpine Foothills. Caucasus Don—Volga Moscow Turkestan. Areas annexed by Nazi Germany. Occupation of France and its colonies by the Axis powers.


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