Friday, March 19, 2021

"All Gaul is Divided" by Anonymous

Letters from Occupied France, 1941

Letters smuggled out of France during 1940 tell of the interactions with German soldiers, officials, and refugees; and with their own countrymen and strangers.

The writers of these letters are old friends of mine. They are deeply rooted in the French soil and know thoroughly the peasant life which they describe... Elizabeth Morrow, Next Day Hill, Englewood N.J.
  • Letter I "It is obvious that the invaders wish to accomplish their task with a minimum of friction."
  • Letter VI. "The Germans have decreed that no restaurant shall serve more than three dishes to a customer. Last night, having consumed my three meager rations, I remarked to the waitress, 'I guess that is all I am to be allowed.' She breathed cozily into my ear, 'Step across the street and come back. I won't recognize you, and you can eat three more.'"
  • Letter IX. "Trust the Good German Soldier... When this poster first appeared in late August it was promptly defaced and torn down. Grammar school girls, enraged at the idea, were the commonest vandals. But second and third copies were affixed by the patient thought conditioners, together with hand-size announcements that interfering with German advertising is sabotage, punishable by death."
  • Letter XI. "The lack of butter, lard, beef suet, olive and arachide (peanut) oil makes a big hole in the larder. ...I had a barrel of winter-grade motor oil, which we tried in the kitchen. A hearty man can stomach it about twice a week, on a cold night. We also experimented with melted candles. Worse."
  • Letter XIII. "I find myself shocked to discover the extent to which many of my intimates and relatives have been converted to Hitlerian dogma."
  • Letter XIV. "quoted verbatim from the letter (from the Head of the Clan) 'If you do not support the admirable old soldier (Petain) you are a traitor. ... And if you do not share this patently sound view, from now on our paths had better separate."
  • Letter XV. "For the harvest I hired a sailor, wearing a pair of khaki trousers and a BVD. He slept in a box stall, ate like a pair of mules, and was the best worker we have ever had on the place... as he pedaled into the pines he called back 'Cheerio,' and began to whistle 'There'll Always be an England. In this matter I do not want to speak heedlessly. But something resembling the underground railway of the Dred Scott era has come into existence just inside the shore line."

Divided into three parts by the Germans, divided by their reactions and relations with the Germans, with all news tightly controlled, shortages everywhere--how does one live?

It's 94 short pages, and I can't find it online (thanks, Disney...) If you find it, read it.


Unknown said...

Thanks to the Yandex search engine, i was able to find it in the 'Internet Archive':

There are various download options there including kindle, and of course one can read it in the browser. It also seems to be widely available secondhand in print versions from 1941 and on Amazon as a re-issue from 2007 by Hesperides as publisher -- that is obviously a facsimile reproduction from the same scan as the IA version, as it has the same pencil margin annotations.

james said... Thanks!