Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Survival During the French Occupation

Hi Farfal,

Smart book (ordered on Amazon.com ; not sold in France). Very few people

can imagine, here, that such events may happen to us. The last collapse

occurred when Hitler invaded France in 1940. French army collapsed in

four weeks. Anarchy had no time to spread : germans occupied the north

zone and the french governement (Vichy) ruled the south half, so the

situation had been frozen for three years. Times were hard, but, in

south zone's country, people lived almost normally. My mother whose

family kept a simple village grocery used to say : "we didn't really

suffer". In fact, this was so because people were less demanding and

solidarity was greater than today.

Today, the situation is more serious. The explosion of the eurozone is a

real possibility now. The collapse of Dollar is another possibility

which will send a huge shock wave towards Europa because economies are

interlinked. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to know exactly the

consequences of the bank crisis on people's lives in Iceland, in

Ireland, and in Greece. Argentina example is a bit far from us : its GDP

per person was 2/3 from France's in its best years but its political

traditions are far from ours.

Will things get so ugly here than those described in your book ? I hope

it will not be so. I don't see myself buying a gun and training

(excepted singular conditions, it's illegal, here). And I'm too old for

that (62, near retirement). Book's discussions are interesting : better

living in small town. Bad luck ! I'm living in a big one (Marseille), in

a central quiet district. I own a small "town house". In any case I will

not move. Where to go ? I'll try to get some autonomy concerning water

and energy. Security upgrade. Medicine (rather good today) will ever be

better here than elsewhere. Rare friends and parents live near in the

town. The best may be to get the right state of mind and get ready for

the worst ?



PS : It would be nice to insert a short but pertinent bibliography in

you book.

Hi JP, thanks for your email. You can legally own guns in France!
You can own a handgun in a non military caliber, say 40S&W or 38Special/357 Magnum and a pump action shotgun (5 round limit apparently) By all means do get yourself a couple guns. If nothing else you’ll enjoy shooting as a hobby. Buying a double barrel 12ga shotgun is terribly simple because its considered a hunting gun, its stupid simple to operate too. You’re never too old to learn a few new tricks. ;-)

 Other than that, millions share your same situation, in many cases much worse. Your situation is pretty good and you can do a few things to make it even better like getting a firearm for home defense and stocking up some supplies.
Its interesting to hear about your mothers experience. If you have more of those, anecdotes and such I’d like to hear them if you have the time.
My grandmother, she went through some tough times during the Spanish civil war. They had a farm but times where hard and food was taken away, rationed. She always wanted to have her own store, a grocery of some sort. “You can always make a living if you own your own business” she says. Many store owners lost their business here after 2001 but I understand what she means. If you are fair, build up a good clientele, have good prices and quality products you’ll manage to survive. When they came from Spain to Argentina my grandmother opened a small general store, then closed it and opened a bakery which was very successful.
During war times, bugging in and fighting the hordes isn’t an option. Your best alternative is to evacuate in advance, not wait until its too late.
Here’s an interesting piece about the German occupation in France:

The life of the French during the German occupation was marked, from the beginning, by endemic shortages. They are explained by several factors:
·    One of the conditions of the armistice was to pay the costs of the three-hundred-thousand strong German occupational army, which amounted to twenty million Reichmarks per day. The artificial exchange rate of the German Reichsmark currency against the French franc was consequently established as one mark to twenty francs.[1] This allowed German requisitions and purchases to be made into a form of organised plunder and resulted in endemic food shortages and malnutrition, particularly amongst children, the elderly, and the more vulnerable sections of French society such as the working urban class of the cities.[2]
·    The disorganisation of transport, except for the railway system which relied on French domestic coal supplies.
·    The extreme shortage of petrol and diesel fuel. France had no indigenous oil production and all importations had stopped.
·    Labour shortages, particularly in the countryside, due to the large number of French prisoners of war held in Germany.

Lack of food
Supply problems quickly affected French stores which lacked most items. Faced with these difficulties in everyday life, the government answered by creating food charts and tickets which were to be exchanged for bread, meat, butter and cooking oil. Hunger prevailed, especially affecting youth in urban areas. The queues lengthened in front of shops. In the absence of meat and other foods including potatoes, people ate unusual vegetables, such as Swedish turnip and Jerusalem artichoke. Products such as sugar were replaced by substitutes (saccharin). Coffee was replaced by toasted barley mixed with chicory. Some people benefited from the black market, where food was sold without tickets at very high prices. Counterfeit food tickets were also in circulation. Direct buying from farmers in the countryside and barter against cigarettes were also frequent practices during this period. These activities were strictly forbidden however and thus carried out at the risk of confiscation and fines. Food shortages were most acute in the large cities. In the more remote country villages, however, clandestine slaughtering, vegetable gardens and the availability of milk products permitted better survival.

 Lack of raw materials
Ersatz, or makeshift substitutes, took the place of many products that were in short supply; gas generators ("gazogènes") on trucks and automobiles burned charcoal or wood pellets as a substitute to gasoline, chicory took the place of coffee, and wooden soles for shoes were used instead of leather. Soap was rare and made in households from fats and caustic soda.

When leaving the country your documents to do so and you savings in precious metals and cash will become your greatest assets. The more money you have saved, the easier it is to start over abroad.
Ethnic and religious persecution has occurred throughout history and still occurs today.
When you see such a thing happening, leave immediately. Being a second to later may have terrible consequences.



Anonymous said...


I'm not familiar with French law, but here in the US a person can buy a firearm made prior to 1899 without having to report the purchase to the ATF. I own a German made Mauser which would be pretty good for self defense, and I also own a black powder Colt replica pistol that can be used in a pinch. Sometimes one has to think outside the box when it comes to weapons.

templar knight

Aladin13 said...

I would add some details to my email..
In fact, the living situation was far better in the south zone (the "free" zone) than in the north zone (german occupied). And the situation was better in the country than in urban areas because France was yet an agricultural country. Few people fled abroad excepted as POW or constrained workers by STO (german mandatory working service): French hate expatriation ! People running away with their belongings piled up on overloaded cars (as it can be seen on war pictures) were often belgian or people living in fights areas (the "exode"). They went back home soon after the armistice.
The critical problem was about food which was confiscated by the german at different levels. Water was not a critical one because there were many wells (public or private) with manual pumps. Lot of houses built before 1900 owned a well. There is a well in the small garden of my house (in plain center of the town). It has not been used for decades but I think of getting it repaired in case of water cuts on public network.
In the country, energy was not a critical problem : people used stoves with wood or charcoal. This was yet true in the 60's. A single stove was sufficient to cook and heat the whole house. It's clear that we need now to get a spare wood stove in case of electricity cut because modern gas boiler for central heating need electricity. High Tech is a lethal trap : we need low tech to survive !

Anonymous said...

"You can own a handgun in a non military caliber, say 40S&W or 38Special/357 Magnum and a pump action shotgun (5 round limit apparently)"


With a shooter licence, you can own what ever handgun caliber you want.

Smooth-bore pump guns are prohibited. Rifled are allowed with hunting or shooting licence.

Anonymous said...

Similar experiences from relatives in WWII occupied Germany. Money meant nothing, food meant everything.

Even if you had money, there was little food to buy and if the invading army (Russian and Polish at different times) found out you had a horde of cash, it would be taken away.

Advice from mom:
You can't defend your house against an invading army. If you resisted they would shoot the head of the household in front of the family to instill obedience, or burn your house with everyone in it. This rarely happened because they only had to do it a few times and word got around to the villagers.

You were better off being polite and sharing what little you had. The invaders took anything of value and sometimes raped the young women. Families tried to hide the girls.

Fleeing into the woods was an option, but then you were vulnerable to the weather and meeting any invaders. Leaving the area was risky because if you got caught they might assume you were up to no good and you might "disappear".

Never tell invaders who you are friends with or who you associate with. Be it the the Nazis, Russians or Polish, they wanted to round up people they didn't like. For example, you would never admit to knowing anybody who was Jewish. "We are just farmers and don't know too many other people."

Don't eat the the family cat. It makes a horrible meal.

When they were forced off their land, everyone was made to jump off a loading dock to shake loose any possessions you might be hiding under your coat. This went for the elderly too.