What was life like in France during World War 2?
After the defeat of France in 1940 most people tried to return
to living as they had done before the war. However, Germany
demanded all kinds of goods from France at bargain prices - just
about everything from foodstuffs to tanks. Some - the collaborators
- were willing to oblige. So the French had to work hard for their
new masters. Many worked badly and very unwillingly. As a result,
in 1943 the Germans started to deport a growing number of skilled
Frenchmen to Germany, to work under direct German supervision in
German factories. This did more than anything else to boost the
resistance, as many young men decided to fight in France rather
than work in Germany. The majority of French Jews were handed over
to the Nazis and deported to the death camps. Some were hidden by
French friends. In some ways the years 1940-44 were traumatic. Some
people whom nobody would ever have expected to collaborate did so,
and a handful who might have been expected to collaborate resisted.
There was also a very nasty side to the liberation of France: a
number of unscrupulous people 'framed' personal enemies as
collaborators and shot them. After the war, France fought two
colonial wars - one in Vietnam (1946-54) and the other in Algeria.
This to some extent delayed postwar reconstruction, but now France
is one of the most prosperous countries in Europe, though not
without its problems.