On vit mal: Food Shortages and Popular Culture in Occupied France, 1940–1944

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Of all the occupied European countries of the Second World War, France was among the most severely affected by food shortages. Wartime shortages required shifting from a culture of abundance to a culture of invention. In this article, we examine the food supply problem, the state's efforts to provision the population, and the effects of scarcity on the culture of everyday life. From the defeat in June 1940 to liberation in the second half of 1944, the Vichy regime attempted to manage widespread penury resulting from German exactions and crises of production and distribution. The colossal failure of state food policy occasioned the development of parallel markets and alternative means of provisioning. The French altered their eating habits, developed new social relationships, and reorganized their lives to survive the shortages. The long-anticipated liberation did not bring immediate relief; shortages continued and the rationing of foodstuffs extended through the late 1940s.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/155280107X211449

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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