Occupy France Essay

Submitted By ebisc3221
Words: 1765
Pages: 8

During World War II, France was taken over by Germany. The French people’s way of life, government, food, and freedom weren’t in their control anymore. Along the streets, pedestrians and busy cafes were replaced by strict Nazi officers and empty store fronts. Food shortages throughout the country left families starving. Women were left helpless and alone while their husbands were forced to work in factories in Germany. Jews were segregated, and sent to concentration camps where they were tortured and killed. All of these actions caused people to fight against the Nazi Germany occupation. The French Resistance soon arose and revolted against this takeover. Other allied countries fought for French’s freedom and the annihilation of Nazi Germany. In the end, Germany was forced out of France, and the French were freed. In the beginning of World War II, France, as well as the United Kingdom, was one of the first participants that attempted to take down Germany. After Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, these countries declared war. Beginning on May 10, 1940, Germany began to invade France and attempted to defeat it’s forces. Germany pushed through the Maginot Line, which was a line of concrete fortifications, and forced deeper into France as it began to collapse, arriving in Paris on June 14. Their commanders met with French officials, who wanted alliance with Germany, but Marshal Philippe Pétain, who was the chief official of France, sought out an armistice instead. On June 22, an armistice was signed between France and Germany, which stated that France was now divided into two zones: Northern France was to be occupied by Germany, while the south was to be under the control of the Vichy government. On June 18, 1940, Charles de Gaulle, a French General, gave a memorable speech to the French people on the BBC Radio telling them that "France has lost a battle, but France has not lost the war” (“WW2 People’s War”). The Vichy regime, lead by Philippe Pétain, was the French government from July 1940 to August 1944. Vichy France maintained full power only in the unoccupied southern Zone libre (free zone), while also having limited authority in the northern zone, the Zone occupée (occupied zone). Their policy and rules changed in tune with the fortunes of war. Vichy France was meant to be a temporary government while waiting for the conclusion of the war in the west ("Vichy France [French History]”). This government secretly collaborated with Nazi Germany on raids to capture Jews, which were organized by the French police. Although not as well known as the concentration camps in Germany, France had approximately forty nine camps that were in use during the occupation. Across France, Jews were required to wear a yellow badge, and while riding the Paris Métro, they were only allowed to ride in the last carriage. Thirteen thousand Jews living in Paris were victims of a mass arrest by pro Nazi French authorities, known as the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. They were transported to Auschwitz where they were either tortured or killed. The goal of the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup was to lessen the Jewish population. Beginning at 4:00 a.m. on July 16, 1942, Jews were arrested according to records of the Préfecture de police. An unknown number of people escaped while being rounded up because of warnings from the French Resistance. Others were hidden by neighbors in basements, closets, and attics. Conditions for the arrested were harsh. They could take only a blanket, a sweater, a pair of shoes, and two shirts with them. Most families were split up and never reunited. At the end of World War II, only eight hundred Jews returned to France. For decades, the French government refused to apologize for the role of French policemen or for any other involvement in the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup. It was argued that the French Republic had been destroyed when Philippe Pétain instituted a new French State during the war, and that the…