Foreigners, undesirables, and strangers : material shortages and social interactions in Vichy France / by Shannon Lee Fogg
Includes bibliographical references (p. 298-322 )
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In September 1939, the French government evacuated residents of Alsace to the country's interior in preparation for a possible German invasion. For the residents of the Limousin region in central France, the evacuees' arrival marked the beginning of a period of extreme shortages and interactions between different populations that would continue into the postwar period. A systematic examination of the interactions between natives and “outsiders” as shaped by material concerns during the Second World War forms the dissertation's basic structure. Each chapter focuses on a specific group considered to be foreigners, undesirables, or strangers in the Limousin in order to understand daily life in a specific place and to explore the ways men and women opposed and supported the Vichy regime, developed coping strategies, and related to others in their daily struggle for survival.The French government never gained full acceptance of its policies and tenets because local, daily concerns held greater weight for individuals than abstract national ideals. French residents, rather than accepting sacrifices for the nation's good, turned Vichy ideology against the state in order to facilitate their own survival. Yet an examination of shortages and relationships between natives and outsiders reveals that self-interest could do more than undermine Vichy's moral agenda. By placing their own needs ahead of others', some French accepted aspects of Vichy's National Revolution, especially those that concerned “undesirables.” The marginalization of undesirables, justified by material concerns, ultimately contributed to the incarceration and deportation of thousands during the war. Rejection and acceptance of Vichy's policies often existed side-by-side, and I probe these complexities by focusing on the intersection of shortages with ideology.Examining material shortages and social interactions within the context of Vichy's political agenda shows that shortages were more than a background concern; they framed daily interactions; influenced governmental and individual decisions, and shaped public attitudes. An examination of ideologies and physical realities also reveals new perspectives on the public's relationship with the French State, the French family's role in society, the practice of denunciations, foreigners', Gypsies', and Jews' exclusion from society, and the Final Solution's implementation in France.
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