France under Nazi Occupation

Condensed from an interview with Mme. Marie Louise Balavoine, via translator Janette Walker.

 

  Except for those used by the Germans, cars had all but disappeared. There were a few small trucks here and there, mostly delivering produce from the country. Still, the Germans had first rights for any foodstuff.

 

I remember one sign in a shop that said, Our coffee is not for sale but for the exclusive use of German soldiers. The sign made an obvious accusation against the Germans and their arrogance. However, the Germans seemed to accept this as a compliment.

 

The Germans rationed and fixed prices for everything but there was nothing we could buy. Bread and meat were rationed about half the peace-time amount but the Germans would come and take what they wanted. Most of the town shops had no food to offer. The butcher sold offal of animals such as lungs, cow udders, and even cat or dog meat as the Germans had taken all cuts of pork, beef and lamb. People often commented that the Germans probably ate better in France than Germany. A common dish in restaurants serving the French people was horse. Chicken, or rabbit mostly, could be had, but it was very expensive.

 

Prices were outrageous. In 1942, coffee could be bought on the Black Market, for about 30 times the normal, while meat (chicken or rabbit) was 250 Francs for one kilo (In 2016 = appx. 135.00 per lb. - based on 1944 (Vichy) Franc purchasing power to 2016 Euro € - to U.S. Dollar $ ) Rarely, we had a little meat, such as rabbit or perhaps even pork, since we had a cow and could trade dairy products.

 

Some civilians would come to the countryside to our farm to buy potatoes but often we would have to tell them the Germans placed a claim to all we had. Still, we would sell a few potatoes and warn the person not to tell others. We traded vegetables for an occasional sack of flour and I made bread. Sometimes a little lamb or even beef could be traded. We had no gasoline for our tractor, so all farm work was done by horse, or manually. 

 

An 1930s Renault delivery van would come from Paris to acquire produce for a restaurant that catered to high-ranking German officers. Though the truck driver would have the necessary papers to buy produce, it was believed  the Maquis kept a hand in this restaurant. I do not remember the name as it was not good to remember such things lest you find yourself a guest of the Gestapo. Once, I heard a whisper of the Maquis killing an imprudent Vichy and this restaurant served him as pork to the Germans. 

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1933 Renault Delivery Van
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