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Life in Paris under Nazi occupation (May 1940-August 1944) - Part 1 : 1940

Updated on January 3, 2013
German military parade on Avenue des Champs-Elysees, June 1940. In the background is the Arc de Triomphe
German military parade on Avenue des Champs-Elysees, June 1940. In the background is the Arc de Triomphe | Source
German military parade on Avenue Foch, June 14 1940
German military parade on Avenue Foch, June 14 1940 | Source
French troops setting barricades in Paris in case of an upcoming Nazi German invasion (May 1940). Screenhot taken from the 1943 United States Army propaganda film Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight #3) directed by Frank Capra and partially based on, ne
French troops setting barricades in Paris in case of an upcoming Nazi German invasion (May 1940). Screenhot taken from the 1943 United States Army propaganda film Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight #3) directed by Frank Capra and partially based on, ne | Source
Plaque at No 156 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris 8th, near the Arc de Triomphe, commemorating the first emergence of the French Resistance, on World War I Armistice Day, 11 November 1940, in the form of a demonstration by a large group of French stu
Plaque at No 156 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris 8th, near the Arc de Triomphe, commemorating the first emergence of the French Resistance, on World War I Armistice Day, 11 November 1940, in the form of a demonstration by a large group of French stu | Source

On September 1st 1939, German military forces invaded Poland. At that time, a treaty of assistance existed between Poland, the United Kingdom and France. As a consequence of this invasion, England first and later that day France both declared war on Germany on September 3rd 1939. From the experience gathered during Wold War I (1914-1918) France had built a defensive line along the German and Italian border, called the Maginot line, which consisted of underground concrete fortifications housing heavy artillery defences, and troops living quarters. It was reputed impossible to take, and it that regard, it worked! The Germans didn't even try. Instead, they went through Belgium and France was invaded in about six weeks. The invasion of France by the German army began on may 10, 1940. On June 14, Paris fell, and would remain occupied until August 1944, when the city was liberated by Allied forces.

Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower. Paris, June 23 1940
Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower. Paris, June 23 1940 | Source
Paris street scene, 1940, showing German installed street signs
Paris street scene, 1940, showing German installed street signs | Source
German soldiers "hitting" on local women in front of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, which still exists today, mostly unchanged. Paris, June 1940
German soldiers "hitting" on local women in front of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, which still exists today, mostly unchanged. Paris, June 1940 | Source
Soldiers of German Wehrmacht in front of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the occupied Paris, 1940.
Soldiers of German Wehrmacht in front of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the occupied Paris, 1940. | Source
German soldiers hailing a tandem bicycle powered taxicab in occupied Paris, December 1st 1940. The building visible at the end of the street is Palais Garnier, Paris Opera House
German soldiers hailing a tandem bicycle powered taxicab in occupied Paris, December 1st 1940. The building visible at the end of the street is Palais Garnier, Paris Opera House | Source
 Snow doesn't stop German soldiers from visiting the occupied capital. Place de la Concorde, December 1940. The current American Embassy is located just a few hundred feet from where this picture was taken
Snow doesn't stop German soldiers from visiting the occupied capital. Place de la Concorde, December 1940. The current American Embassy is located just a few hundred feet from where this picture was taken | Source
The famous scene taken from Frank Capra's US propaganda movie "Divide and Conquer" ("Why We Fight #3", @54:50) depicting the departure of the remaining French troops after their defeat at the 1940 Battle of France (World War II).
The famous scene taken from Frank Capra's US propaganda movie "Divide and Conquer" ("Why We Fight #3", @54:50) depicting the departure of the remaining French troops after their defeat at the 1940 Battle of France (World War II). | Source
Sign in a shop window informing passers by that Jews are not allowed
Sign in a shop window informing passers by that Jews are not allowed | Source
Restaurant "A la Medre Catherine", Place du Tertre in Montmartre. Paris, June 1940
Restaurant "A la Medre Catherine", Place du Tertre in Montmartre. Paris, June 1940 | Source

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    • profile image

      Victoria 

      4 years ago

      Excellent photos. Just to point out, a propos your note that one of the photos shows soldiers just near where the US Embassy was today, in case you weren't aware, the site of the current US Embassy (the old Rothschild mansion on Place de la Concorde) was seized by the Germans when they occupied Paris and was the location of the MBF -- the German military headquarters in France. Therefore, the soldiers in that picture were likely leaving the military headquarters when the picture was taken. (My basis for making this comment is the fact that I spent the better part of a year in the French National Archives reviewing documents relating to the German occupation.)

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Two things in particular strike me in these photos. One is the scenes of German soldiers just being tourists in Paris. The other is of the street signs in German - a kind of in-your-face statement about who is now in charge. Good hub.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Dark times these were, Austin. I shall be coming back to read parts 2 and 3 of this thorough and well narrated account!! Sharing.

    • austinhealy profile imageAUTHOR

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 

      5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Thank you Pavlo for your kind words. You are right about German soldiers in Paris during World War II. It was like vacation for them. No fighting, and having pretty much what they wanted on hand. The alternative for them was the Eastern front and that was a different story. That's why they look so relaxed on the period pictures.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      I came to this hub after reading PArt 2.. Loved this piece of history as well. Looking on the photo I have a feeling that the Nazi soldiers thought of this war as a big and adventurous trip to Europe. The soldiers seem to be relaxed and careless. Shared as well!

    • austinhealy profile imageAUTHOR

      Bernard J. Toulgoat 

      5 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      Thank you Graham. I'm glad you found this hub interesting. I plan on developing the text part of it some as it is quite short, and I am currently working on the next installment for which I have located some interesting pictures too, I think. See you around HP

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      6 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Austin. A great hub here. Basically different due to your excellent photographs. Very interesting.

      Graham.

      Following.

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