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France in WW2

What was life like in France during World War 2?

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2006-12-18 16:56:37

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.

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