Memory of occupied France



Topic: War

This is a story my father recounts sometimes, from his early childhood.

In southern France, during WWII, in the midst of the German occupation. My father was just a young child at that time, but he remembers very well the sirens.

The factories in the area had been ordered by the Nazis to produce ammunition for the Germans, therefore the planes that came to drop their bombs weren’t from the enemy, but from the British and American allies. And when the sirens wailed, my father’s grand-mother took all her belongings in a basket, and brought the whole family in the mountains, away from the factories.

When there was no sirens, this was a quiet village, and past the imposed curfew, no one except the german patrols were allowed outside. My father’s family did not have a radio but one neighbour had one. So at night, his grand mother used to peek out the window and when the patrols were out of sight, she shut the lights off, then opened the door, and all the family scurried over to the neighbour’s, where they listened to the resistance broadcasting, from de Gaulle, back in London: “Les français parlent aux français”.

My father gets very emotional when telling this story.

He also remembers that the women that collaborated with the Nazis (or at least were accused of doing so) had their heads forcibly shaven. My father, with his friends, encouraged by the older folks, used to nag them by singing derogatory songs.

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