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Extra info for Between Resistance and Collaboration: Popular Protest in Northern France 1940-45

Sample text

Life had become a daily struggle to find, somehow, the means to stretch the increasingly limited resources and to supplement extremely meagre diets. REASONS FOR THE SYSTEM’S FAILURE Part of the problem was simply a continuing shortage of supplies.

Nowhere is the change more evident than in the explosion of ration categories. From the three categories of ordinary consumer, underground miner and worker, the list had expanded to seven basic ration categories; children under the age of 3, children aged 3–6, children aged 6–12, ordinary consumers of both sexes aged 12–70 years, consumers of both sexes aged 12–70 who do heavy labour, consumers over 12 years of age who are agricultural workers and consumers over the age of 70 who did not qualify as agricultural or heavy labourers.

Not only did people live in daily fear of being caught in a German sweep of the streets or of being arbitrarily summoned to the German placement offices to be sent to Germany to work, but they also found that their employment opportunities were curtailed by the failure of the shortened working week legislation to generate extra employment. Thus, the new labour controls imposed on the region caused a fundamental change in the availability of employment. The reallocation of employment favouring married men and fathers, the discrimination against the employment of women, the harsh tactics used by the German occupying forces to recruit ‘volunteers’ to work in Germany, the lengthening of the working week – all these factors combined to alter the way in which an individual sought and gained employment, and reduced the desirability of pursuing employment through the traditional channels, or even of registering to receive unemployment assistance.

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