The most quickly felt impact of German occupation was general shortage. All products of value were seized by the Germans, and French citizens received ration cards for just about everything. Coal and fuel were difficult to get, so people were freezing in winter time, made their own clothes, and mostly used bicycles. Food shortage was most felt in cities : meat, coffee, fruit, sugar, almost everything was scarce. As rutabagas and Jerusalem artichokes became staple diets, there was immediately a thriving black market. Wholesale dealers of “butter, eggs and cheese” made fortunes buying restricted products from farmers.
It was a combination of factors.
One thing that’s very overplayed is the Maginot Line; the line of fortifications that France built along its border with Germany. In the popular imagination people often say that the French sat behind the Maginot Line and the Germans went around it through Belgium, but that’s just completely false. The French in fact built the Maginot Line to force the Germans to go through Belgium. The French sent their best forces and tanks to Belgium when the Germans attacked.
But what happened is that the Germans took a big gamble that paid off. Belgium can be roughly divided into two parts:
French female collaborator punished by having her head shaved to publicly mark her, 1944
Throughout France, from 1943 to the beginning of 1946, about 20,000 women of all ages and all professions who were accused of having collaborated with the occupying Germans had their heads shaved. Just as the identity of those who carried this task out varied so too did the form it took.
French president Emmanuel Macron (43) is 25 years younger than his wife (68). They first met when he was a 15 year-old schoolboy and she was his teacher.
Emmanuel’s parents held a meeting with the teacher and told her to stop seeing him, at least until he was 18.
“I can’t promise you anything,” she replied.