A Place to Call Home
The Second World War started on 3rd September 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Great Britain, France, New Zealand and Australia declared war on Germany. On 23 May 1940, the German Army crossed the River Meuse and entered France. Despite determined resistance, the French Army was pushed back, defeated by the superior air power and mobile forces of Germany. Paris was occupied unopposed.
The 84 year old Marshal Petain became Prime Minister of France. On June 22, he signed an Armistice at Compiegne, near Paris. The north of France was occupied by the Germans but an area in the south and west was regarded as the Zone Libre (Free Zone.) Petain's government moved to the spa town of Vichy.
All this is well known, but what was life like in Vichy France? Petain's government was conservative, authoritarian and anti-Semitic. Many people supported Petain, thinking he offered a return to traditional values, whilst others opposed him. There must have been a great many people on the move; refugees from the north and east, and soldiers returning from the defeated French army. This story is told against that background.