The German occupation
After the armistice was signed on 16 June 1940, Hitler’s aim was to plunder France. Just as he would set out to plunder every occupied country.
A demarcation line was established, separating France into two large zones, one of which was free. An extortionate daily allowance had to be paid and armies were broken up… Suffice it to say that the traumatised people of France had a painful period ahead of them after troops were demobilised and refugees returned home.
It was impossible to cross the demarcation line without a pass or Ausweis.
Administration of the occupied zone was under German military command – a total of about 140,000 German men and women for a French population of 40 million.
During the first few months of the Occupation, propaganda about courteous German soldiers existing alongside the civilian population was widely put about using photographs and films taken by soldiers in the Propaganda Kompanien, like here in the Allier in June 1940.
Very quickly, however, the French people had to struggle to get food to fill their empty stomachs and to live on despite unbearable restrictions and terrible shortages.
For over five years, civilians resisted, endured and suffered in their bodies, their hearts and their minds - famine, injury and loss were constant agonies.