World War II: Vichy France--Unoccupied Zone (1940-42)

Figure 1.--The children here are French war orphans. The photograph ws taken in an orphanage located in the unoccupied zone during 1941. The children were given milk, vitamins, medicines and wheat flour distributed through schools and clinics. Photographer/Credit: Ecole Maternelle, Paris.

The NAZIs occupied the north and Atlantic coast of France. These were the areas most critical for persuing the war against Britain. It also cut France off from their former ally. The rest of France was left unoccupied to be administered by the Pétain's Government at Vichy. This was wssentially central and southern France. As Paris was in the occupied zone, the capital of unoccupied France becme Vichy where Pétain set up his government. The terms of the armistace, however, conferred effective control to NAZI authorities, although the foot print of the German military was much less conscipious. The terms of the armistae was severe, but not draconian as was the occupation in Poland. Many French people had expected much worse from the NAZIs. Except for Jews, Communists, and vocal anti-NAZIs, life in the unoccupied zone could at first continue relatively normally. This did not begin to chnge until the NAZIs began demanding conscript labor for war industries in the Reich (May 1942) and the Allies launched Operation Torch (November 1942). The NAZIs responded to Torch by occupying the unoccupied zone.


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Created: 2:11 AM 3/10/2006
Last updated: 2:11 AM 3/10/2006