GERMAN OCCUPATION OF FRANCE: 1940-1944
-had to pay for 300,000 German occupational army --> 20 mil Reichmarks/day
-Germans set up artificial exchange rate 20 francs/Reichmark--> organized plunder
--> endemic food shortages and thus malnutrition esp in young, elderly, and poor
-Supply problems in stores--> govt created food charts and tickets that could be exchanged for bread, meat, butter, and cooking oil

Basics of food rationing
The government organizes an allotment of food to citizens. Food rationing would ensure that citizens had enough food, keeping their moral and physical well being up. With rationing and price control, it was possible to stop (or at least slow) massive inflation and panic. It also helped people feel as though they were doing their part for the war. While food rationing was the permitted form of buying groceries, there was also a thriving black market. In order for food rationing to work, however, the public had to do it voluntarily. To convince them, governments would have to use propaganda, using messages such as “Hoarding food is helping the enemy”.
Rationing in France
After the fall of France (June 1940), the Germans divided the country into an unoccupied (Vichy) and an occupied zone. The rationing system may have varied in these two zones (ie, Vichy France may have followed German food rationing, and unoccupied France may have continued with French rationing).
As if this rationing was not enough, when the Nazis took over Northern France, they let both the Franc and the Reichsmark be used, but one Reichsmark was worth 20 Francs. This was essentially an organized and legal form of looting, and resulted in massive food shortages, and consequently, malnutrition (especially in children and the elderly).
Fünf Reichsmark
Fünf Reichsmark
People living in the country were often better off than those in the city because they were able to supplement their rations with food from their farm, or game from hunting. However, this practice was illegal and those caught doing this would be punished.
Food rationing began in France in September 1940. Manual workers were given more food than the white collar workers (due to the more labour intensive work the manual workers had to do). Although there were rations in place, the Vichy government was very corrupt and not as authoritarian as it may have seemed. People traded often on the black market - policemen were even seen enjoying free drinks in bars (in repayment for turning a blind eye to the black market cigarette trade). Also, workers giving out ration cards to people would sometimes slip extra cards to those who looked particularly hungry. At first, the rations were greater than those enforced in Britain, but they declined over the course of the war.
Milk
- Children under 6: 3/4 of a liter every day
- Children 6-12: 1/2 a liter evey day
Bread
- Adults 21-70: 350 grams per day
Meat
- Adults 21-70: 300 grams per week
Cheese
- Adults 21-70: 50 grams per week
Sugar
- Adults 21-70: 500 grams per week
Butter and Margarine
- Adults 21-70: 200 grams per week (of each)
Rice
- Adults 21-70: 50 grams per month
"Life is hard (On vit mal). Everyone grows thinner. A kilo of butter costs one thousand francs. A kilo of peas forty-five francs. A kilo of potatoes forty francs. Still we must find them." - Jean Guéhenno, August 1944, after black market prices rose and supplies grew even scarcer near the end of the occupation

Four factors contributed the the food shortages. First, the military activity wrecked transport infrastructure. Secondly, the Allies' invasion of North Africa in 1942 cut off Atlantic and Mediterranean trade, and France could not get imports. Thirdly, the lack of manpower, fuel, and fertilizers reduced the amount of land under cultivation and crop yields. In fact, by 1944 domestic
agricultural output was 40% lower than average yields in the 1930s. Lastly, the Germans not only demanded food for the occupation troops, but for German civilians as well.

The French government abolished the rationing in October 1945. However, they only did this to promote national optimism before the elections to the Constituent assembly. There was not a large enough supply to meet the demand, and bread rationing was re-instituted in December 1945. People were so angry that riots began and they burned their new ration cards. Since it was the holiday season, policemen and gendarmes were short in supply. While this rationing did not occur during the Vichy period, it was simply a continuation of Vichy rationing - a sign that the Liberation was not the be-all and end-all of hard times for the French.

An example of French food tickets
An example of French food tickets
Swedish Turnip
Swedish Turnip
What people did to accommodate:
The rationing forced the French culture to shift from a culture of abundance to one of ingenuity. To survive the shortages, the French people had to change their eating habits, develop new social relationships, and reorganize their lives. This was especially difficult since cuisine and the great variety and high quality of French food was a major part of French national identity. They had to adopt le système D, meaning a system of improvisation, coming from the verb se debrouiller, or "to get by".
-People started eating weird vegetables like Swedish turnips and Jerusalem artichokes
-Sugar was replaced by substitutes like saccharin
-Coffee was replaced by toasted barley mixed with chicory
-People made counterfeit food tickets
-Bought directly from local farmers
Jerusalem Artichoke
Jerusalem Artichoke
-Bartered cigarettes
-->These practices were illegal, and if caught, would result in confiscation and fines
Meat Shortage
To accommodate the meat shortage, people who lived in apartments took to keeping guinea pigs to eat. Some people even ate pigeons they found in the public parks. The situation was so dire that the authorities had to publish a warning saying that cats were unsafe to use in stews. In 1941, people in the country were officially allowed to send colis familiaux, or family parcels, to their city-dwelling relatives. Around 13.5 millions colis familiaux were sent through the strictly supervised postal system in 1942 alone. However, many of these parcels did not arrive in appetizing condition. Many were filled with maggots, or rotten, or boiled in vinegar, but they had to eat what they received to survive such difficult times. City-dwellers without friends or family in the country started going on weekend hunting expeditions in the country, returning with sacks of meat and produce. These expeditions became so regular that people started nicknaming the trains services to Paris le train des pommes de terre, le train des haricots, etc.
Effect of the German Occupation of France
Without intending it, the German Occupation of France aided the resistance because if effected regular French citizens everyday. With economic resources drained from France a period of economic depression and food and commodities shortages occurred. These shortages in turn increased the resentment of the Germans and the occupation. From this pool of angry French, the resistance was able to recruit and grow. In this way, the Germans gained economically, but at the cost of speeding the rise of resistance.

The occupation of France had a great impact on the daily life of women. If their husbands were absent (for example, prisoners of war for their involvement in the Resistance), women were forced into the role of chef de famille, often having to work to support their families. The scarcity of food and supplies caused by the occupation added onto the pressure. In fact, the search for daily essentials was a full-time preoccupation.