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Selling France to the French: The French Zone of Occupation in Western Germany, 1945–c.1955

  • K. H. ADLER (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This article contributes to the literature of occupation, as well as to transnational history, by exploring the social history of the military government in the French Zone of Occupation in West Germany (ZFO). It uses the Zone as a case study to understand the construction of a French community abroad by looking at systems of buying and selling, and asks whether these systems were not in themselves constitutive of the very transformation of members of the military government into a ‘French community’. By investigating the insistence that French customers buy French goods at the économat, the shop restricted to their use, the article claims that gender, family and commercial practice helped to define home for members of the French administration in Germany.

Vendre la France aux Français: La zone française d'occupation en Allemagne occidentale, 1945–c.1955

Cet article contribue aux écrits sur l'occupation et à l'histoire transnationale en explorant l'histoire sociale du gouvernement militaire de la Zone française d'occupation (ZFO) dans la partie occidentale de l'Allemagne. La Zone sert d'étude de cas pour chercher à comprendre l'élaboration d'une communauté française à l'étranger. L'article examine les systèmes de vente et d'achat, et avance l'hypothèse selon laquelle ces mêmes systèmes auraient en fait été constitutifs de la mutation des membres du gouvernement militaire en communauté française. En examinant l'insistance que les Français fassent leurs achats à l'économat, commerce réservé à leur seul usage, l'article montre que des questions de genre, de famille et d'usages commerciaux ont toutes aidé à cerner la notion d'un chez-soi collectif pour les membres de l'administration française en Allemagne.

Frankreich an die Franzosen verkaufen: Die französische Besatzungszone in Westdeutschland, 1945–ca. 1955

Diese Untersuchung zur Sozialgeschichte der Militärregierung in der französischen Besatzungszone in Westdeutschland (ZFO) leistet einen Beitrag zur Erforschung der Besatzung und zur transnationalen Geschichte. Der Artikel analysiert die französische Zone in einer Fallstudie, die ein neues Verständnis von Konstruktionen einer französischen Gemeinschaft im Ausland ermöglicht. Die Analyse der Systeme des Kaufens und Verkaufens verfolgt die Frage, ob diese Systeme an sich nicht konstitutiv waren für ebendiese Transformation der Mitglieder der Militärregierung in eine ‘französische Gemeinschaft’. Der Artikel zeigt, dass das Beharren darauf, französische Kundinnen hätten französische Waren in den économats, den für sie vorgesehenen Geschäften, zu kaufen, dazu beitrug, für Mitglieder der französischen Besatzungsmacht in Deutschland ein Zuhause zu definieren. Die Parameter von Geschlecht, Familie und Handelsbräuchen spielten dabei eine wichtige Rolle.

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1 Morin Edgar, Allemagne, notre souci (Paris: Hier et aujourd'hui, 1947), 21–2.

2 See, e.g., Hüser Dietmar, Frankreichs ‘doppelte Deutschlandpolitik’: Dynamik aus der Defensive . . . 1944–1950 (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 1996); Lappenküper Ulrich, Die deutsch-französischen Beziehungen 1949–1963: Von der ‘Erbfeindschaft’ zur ‘Entente élémentaire’, 2 vols (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 2001).

3 See, e.g., Hörber Thomas, The Foundations of Europe: European Integration Ideas in France, Germany and Britain in the 1950s (Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2006).

4 See, e.g., Lefèvre Sylvie, Les Relations économiques franco-allemandes de 1945 à 1955: De l'occupation à la coopération (Paris: Ministère de l'Economie, des Finances et de l'Industrie, 1998); Eck Jean-François, Les Entreprises françaises face à l'Allemagne de 1945 à la fin des années 1960 (Paris: Ministère de l'Economie, des Finances et de l'Industrie, 2003).

5 See, e.g., Hudemann Rainer, Sozialpolitik im deutschen Südwesten zwischen Tradition und Neuordnung, 1945–1953: Sozialversicherung und Kriegsopferversorgung im Rahmen französischer Besatzungspolitik (Mainz: Hase und Koehler, 1988); Thaisy Laurence, La Politique cinématographique de la France en Allemagne occupée (1945–1949) (Villeneuve d'Ascq: Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2006); Vaillant Jérôme, ‘Aspects de la politique culturelle de la France en Allemagne 1945–1949’, in Ménudier Henri, ed., L'Allemagne occupée 1945–1949 (Brussels: Editions Complexe, 1990), 201–20; Becker Frank, Kultur im Schatten der Trikolore: Theater, Kunstausstellungen, Kino und Film im französischen besetzten Württemberg-Hohenzollern 1945–1949 (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2007).

6 Navarre Henri, Le Temps des vérités (Paris: Plon, 1979), 198202; ‘Morale in Berlin’, 12 Dec. 1945. Service Historique de la Défense, Vincennes (SHD) 3U 156.

7 Revers to Commissioner, German and Austrian Affairs (GAA), 17 Nov. 1947. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères Archives, La Courneuve (MAE), Haut-Commissariat en Allemagne (HCA), Affaires Economiques et Financières (AEF) 694. In 1940, France was defeated in six weeks, with rapid loss of life and about 1.7 million troops taken prisoner. Terms of the armistice that Pétain's government signed with Nazi Germany allowed France an ‘armistice army’, inactive in the Metropole, but supposed to fight for the Axis in the colonies. Troops loyal to Charles de Gaulle's Free French helped to defeat these armies in the liberation of North Africa. Under overall US command, and with the recruitment of many colonial subjects from Africa, and some from Madagascar and Indochina, they became the French Expeditionary Corps that helped to liberate Italy and several Mediterranean islands. After fighting for the liberation of France from summer 1944 to February 1945 (mainly the southern and eastern regions), and with extra troops drawn from the internal French resistance, they joined the push into Germany, crossing the border in late March and fighting in the south-west for the last few weeks of the European war.

8 Massigli, 12 Dec. 1944, in Buffet Cyril, Mourir pour Berlin: La France et l'Allemagne 1945–1949 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1991), 33.

9 Moreau Claude Albert, Présence française en Allemagne: Essai de géographie cordiale de la Zone française d'occupation (n.p.: Henri Neveu, 1949).

10 ‘Morale in Berlin’, 1 Nov. 1953; ‘Manœuvres and training camps, 1954’, 20 Oct. 1954. SHD 3U 156 and 157.

11 Director, Intendance, to Director, Ravitaillement, 10 Oct. 1945; Director, Agriculture, to Secretary, GAA, 16 Oct. 1945. MAE HCA AEF 696.

12 Reports from 3rd Bureau during 1946. SHD 3U 154; Wolfrum Edgar, ‘Die französische Politik im besetzten Deutschland: Neue Forschungen, alte Klischees, vernachlässigte Fragen’, in Hochstuhl Kurt, ed., Deutsche und Franzosen im zusammenwachsenden Europa 1945–2000 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2003), 6172, at 65.

13 Bérard Armand, Un ambassadeur se souvient: Washington et Bonn 1945–1955 (Paris: Plon, 1978), 83.

14 On railway co-operatives, see Furlough Ellen, Consumer Co-operation in France: The Politics of Consumption, 1834–1930 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 107–8. The word économat describes both the distributor of goods and the system of shops.

15 Vergely See, ‘Les économats de l'Armée’, Revue Historique de l'Armée, 13, 4 (1957), 121–4, at 121; de Terre Armée: Direction Centrale de l'Intendance, Economat de l'Armée (Paris: Ministère de la Défense, 1972); GAA to Finance and Economy, Paris, 8 Mar. 1949. MAE Affaires Allemandes et Autrichiennes (AAA) 235; ‘Economat Organisation’, 20 Apr. 1946. SHD 3U 191.

16 Koenig to Delegate, Rhine-Palatinate, 24 Nov. 1948. MAE AAA 235.

17 France also established Oficomex, the External Commerce Bureau, to generate profit from its monopoly on all French trade in the Zone; this became easier once it joined the Joint Export Import Association with Britain and the US. See Silbert Alfred, ‘L'Allemagne occidentale et les alliés’, Politique étrangère, 5–6 (1948), 433–42, at 435; Die Zeit, 3 Jun. 1948.

18 Sevez, 2 Apr. 1947. SHD 3U 191.

19 Stoler Ann Laura, ‘On Degrees of Imperial Sovereignty’, Public Culture, 18, 1 (2006), 125–46, at 139.

20 German civilians were encouraged to settle in eastern areas of the ‘reserved zone’ of occupied France after 1940, much as they were in Poland.

21 On racism as a fundamental element within colonialism, see Stoler Ann Laura, ‘Colonial Aphasia: Race and Disabled Histories in France’, Public Culture, 23, 1 (2011), 121–56, at 149.

22 Thies Jochen and von Daak Kurt, Südwestdeutschland Stunde Null: Die Geschichte der französischen Besatzungszone 1945–1948 (Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1979), 108.

23 See, e.g., ‘Reports on morale’, 20 Nov. 1946; 4 Jan. 1947. SHD 3U 154.

24 Trentmann Frank, ‘Beyond Consumerism: New Historical Perspectives on Consumption’, Journal of Contemporary History, 39, 3 (2004), 373401, at 400.

25 Miller Daniel, ed., Home Possessions: Material Culture behind Closed Doors (Oxford: Berg, 2001), 5.

26 Trentmann, ‘Beyond Consumerism’.

27 though C.f., the apparent sociological ‘neglect of gender in consumption studies’. Casey Emma and Marten Lydia, eds, Gender and Consumption: Domestic Cultures and the Commercialisation of Everyday Life (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 2.

28 Reagin Nancy, ‘The Imagined Hausfrau: National Identity, Domesticity, and Colonialism in Imperial Germany’, Journal of Modern History, 73, 1 (2001), 5486.

29 Carter Erica, How German Is She? Post-war West German Reconstruction and the Consuming Woman (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 10.

30 Cohen Lizabeth, A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Post-war America (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2003); Haupt H. G., ‘Pour une histoire de la consommation en Allemagne au XXe siècle’, Mouvement social, 206 (2004), 316.

31 Pulju Rebecca, Women and Mass Consumer Society in Post-war France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

32 Berlin: Guide pratique (Berlin: GMFB, 1946), 6.

33 Minutes, Economats Council, 20 Jan. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 694.

34 ‘Delivery of Economat Ration Cards’, 17 Jan. 1951; Economats Commission, 17 Jan. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 6 and 694.

35 Cooke James J., Chewing Gum, Candy Bars, and Beer: The Army PX in the Second World War (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009).

36 Revue d'Information des Troupes Françaises d'Occupation en Allemagne, 40, January 1949, 4.

37 Miller Harry, Service to the Services: The Story of Naafi (London: Newman Neame, 1971). I thank Tom Berliner for checking this work.

38 Rothenberger Karl-Heinz, ‘Ernährungs- und Landwirtschaft in der französischen Besatzungszone 1945–1950’, in Scharf Claus and Schröder Hans-Jürgen, eds, Die Deutschlandpolitik Frankreichs und die französische Zone 1945–1949 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1983), 185203; Tracy Michael, Agriculture in Western Europe: Crisis and Adaptation since 1880 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1964), 292–3.

39 On demand for colonial products, see Jennings Eric, Vichy in the Tropics: France's National Revolution in Madagascar, Guadeloupe, and Indochina, 1940–44 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 16.

40 Comité Interministériel de l'Alimentation et de l'Agriculture, Rapport annuel sur l'état de l'alimentation et de l'agriculture en 1947–1948 (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1948), 6. There was wide pre-war variability year on year: Cépède Michel, ‘Agriculture et alimentation européennes’, IIIme Congrès du Mouvement socialiste pour les etats-unis d'Europe (Paris: n.p., 1949), 20.

41 Bachelier Christian, ‘De la pénurie à la vie chère, l'opinion publique à travers les premiers sondages 1944–1949’, in Veillon Dominique and Flonneau Jean-Marie, eds, ‘Le Temps des restrictions en France (1939–1949)’, Cahiers de l'Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent, 32 (1995), 479500, at 480.

42 CIAA, Rapport annuel, 11.

43 CIAA, Rapport annuel, 18.

44 Unattributed author in Moreau, Présence française, 12: ‘Es ist eine bittere Sache, einem hungrigen Herrn dienen zu müssen’.

45 See General de Monsabert, ‘Response to reports on morale for June’, 10 Jul. 1946. SHD 3U 154.

46 Haustein Sabine, Vom Mangel zum Massenkonsum: Deutschland, Frankreich und Großbritannien im Vergleich 1945–1970 (Frankfurt: Campus, 2007), 73–9.

47 CIAA, Rapport annuel, 63. It is unclear whether these figures include the third of the population probably able to feed itself from farms or smallholdings.

48 Steinert Johannes-Dieter, ‘Food and the Food Crisis in Post-War Germany, 1945–1948: British Policy and the Role of British NGOs’, in Trentmann Frank and Flemming Just, eds, Food and Conflict in Europe in the Age of the Two World Wars (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 266–88.

49 Director, Agricultural Production, to Head, Administration, 2 Jul. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 97.

50 Director, Intendance, to Director, Ravitaillement, 10 Oct. 1945. MAE HCA AEF 696.

51 Livre de cuisine à l'usage des cuisiniers d'équipages (Paris: Intendance Maritime, 1948), 6.

52 See, e.g., the documentary about German reconstruction, Les Français en Allemagne (France, 1946), whose repeated refrain, ‘Germany will pay’, underscored images of the importation to France from the Zone of 12 million m3 of timber p.a., or 300,000 pairs of shoes per month.

53 Delegate, Baden, to Head, Ravitaillement, 21 Sept. 1945; Head, Provisioning, to Director, Agriculture-Supply, 31 Oct. 1945; Koenig to Interministerial Committee, GAA, Paris, 9 Nov. 1945. MAE HCA AEF 696.

54 ‘Summary of Meetings re: Feeding French Population’, 15 Sept. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 97.

55 ‘Meeting on morale, 20 June 1947’. SHD 3U 154.

56 Instruction, Head, Administration, 24 May 1948; Director, AEF, to Ambassador, 6 Feb. 1950. MAE HCA AEF 6 and 97.

57 Dobler to Deputy High Commissioner, 9 Jan. 1949. MAE HCA AEF 6.

58 ‘Functioning of Economats’, Birkenfeld, Jan. 1948. SHD 3U 191.

59 See, e.g., L'Humanité, 8–9 Sept. 1946.

60 Minutes, Economats Council, 12 Nov. 1951. MAE HCA AEF 6.

61 See, e.g., Koenig to Delegate, Rhine-Palatinate, 24 Nov. 1948; GAA to Minister, Finance and Economy, 8 Mar. 1949. MAE AAA 235; Dobler to Anthony, 22 Nov. 1949. MAE HCA AEF 6.

62 Head, Agricultural Production, to Head, Economy and Finance, 1949; Ambassador to Commissioner, GAA, 26 Nov. 1949. MAE HCA AEF 6 and 97.

63 Minutes, Economats Council, 7 Feb. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 694.

64 ‘Morale in Berlin’, 6 Aug. 1946. SHD 3U 156.

65 Dobler to Deputy High Commissioner, 14 Feb. 1950. MAE HCA AEF 97.

66 At 0.53% of turnover in 1947. Koenig to Chief Accountant, 30 Dec. 1947. MAE HCA AEF 694.

67 ‘Report on morale’, 13 Aug. 1947. SHD 3U 154.

68 Dobler to Deputy High Commissioner, 1 Aug. 1950. MAE HCA AEF 6.

69 Dobler to Deputy High Commissioner, 9 Jan. 1949; Note, Troops General Inspector, 10 Jul. 1950. MAE HCA AEF 6.

70 Ambassador to Commanding General, 20 Jul. 1950; Note for Ambassador, 16 May 1950. MAE HCA AEF 6 and 97.

71 Note, Administration, AEF, 22 Sept. 1950. MAE HCA AEF 6.

72 Economats Council to High Commissioner, 8 Feb. 1950. SHD 3U 191.

73 Minutes, Economats Council, 26 Mar. 1950. SHD 3U 191.

74 Undated note, Economic and Social Affairs. MAE AAA 235; Dobler to Deputy High Commissioner, 9 Jan. 1949. MAE HCA AEF 6.

75 Dobler to Anthony, 22 Nov. 1949. MAE HCA AEF 6.

76 Note for Ambassador, 16 May 1950. MAE HCA AEF 97.

77 Consul to Minister, 5 Feb. 1954. MAE AAA 577.

78 Sutter Alfred, L'Economat en Allemagne: 50 ans d'histoire 1945–1995 (Bühl: self-published, 1995), 19.

79 Minutes, Economats Council, 14 Dec. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 694.

80 Inspector, National Economy, to Director, Oficomex, 15 Jul. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 97.

81 de Lauwe Paul-Henri Chombart, La Vie quotidienne des familles ouvrières (Paris: CNRS, 1956), 195.

82 See, e.g. ‘Morale in Berlin’, 5 Nov. 1945. SHD 3U 156.

83 Maugin R., ‘Economat de l'Armée’, Revue Historique de l'Armée, 21, 4 (1965), 167–79.

84 Revue d'Information des TOA, 35, August 1948, 9.

85 ‘Morale in Berlin’, 4 Dec. 1945. SHD 3U 156.

86 British banquet, Kommandatura, Jan. 1946; French banquet, Dec. 1945, Berlin. Alliierten Museum Archives, Berlin.

87 Möhring Maren, ‘Transnational Food Migration and the Internationalisation of Food Consumption: Ethnic Cuisine in West Germany’, in Nützenadel Alexander and Trentmann Frank, eds, Food and Globalization: Consumption, Markets and Politics in the Modern World (Oxford: Berg, 2008), 1220.

88 Schweitz Arlette, ‘Changer de cuisine en Touraine’ in Peltre Jean and Thouvenot Claude, eds, Alimentation et régions (Nancy: Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 1987), 157–73.

89 High Commissioner to Commanding General, 20 Jul. 1950. MAE HCA AEF 6; ‘Morale in Berlin’, 6 Aug. 1946. SHD 3U 156.

90 Morin, Allemagne, 24.

91 Note on nationality, 28 Sept. 1945. SHD 3U 74.

92 Breil Jacques, ‘Quelques résultats du recensement du 26 janvier 1946 dans la Zone française d'occupation en Allemagne’, Population, 4 (1946), 736–42, at 737.

93 At least as recounted in the autofictional, Bosquet Alain, Les Fêtes cruelles (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1984), 294–5. I am grateful to Christine Tipper and Roger Little for alerting me to this work.

94 ‘Transformation of DGEAF Mess into Club’, 1952. MAE HCA Affaires Budgétaires 88.

95 Minutes, Economats Council, 20 Jan. 1948. MAE HCA AEF 694; Revue d'Information des TOA, 27, December 1947, 34.

96 Halter Marilyn, Shopping for Identity: The Marketing of Ethnicity (New York: Schocken Books, 2000), 17.

97 See Schröder Christina, ‘Interactions of Discontent: Customers, Sales Assistance and the State in the German Democratic Republic, 1970–1989’, in Benson John and Ugolini Laura, eds, Cultures of Selling: Perspectives on Consumption and Society since 1700 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), 237–64.

98 Pence Katherine, ‘Labours of Consumption: Gendered Consumers in Post-War East and West German Reconstruction’, in Abrams Lynn and Harvey Elizabeth, eds, Gender Relations in German History: Power, Agency and Experience from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Century (1996; repr. London: Routledge, 2003), 211–38.

99 Herrmann Anne, ‘Shopping for Identities: Gender and Consumer Culture’, Feminist Studies, 28, 3 (2002), 539–49.

100 On kitsch consumption, see, e.g., Gruber Ruth Ellen, Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe (London: University of California Press, 2002).

101 de Grazia Victoria, ed., The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 8.

102 Moreau, Présence française, 263–4.

103 See Miller Daniel, The Dialectics of Shopping (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 11.

104 Mansvelt Julia, Geographies of Consumption (London: Sage, 2005), 2.

105 Bowlby Rachel, Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 160.

106 Quenot to Manager, Mainz économats, 2 Jun. 1946. SHD 3U 154.

107 ‘Morale in Berlin’, 6 Jan. 1946. Emphasis in original. SHD 3U 156.

The author is very grateful to Jackie Clarke, Liz Harvey, Spencer Mawby and Kevin Passmore for their comments on earlier versions of this paper, and to Sylvain Cypel and Philippe Zarka.

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Contemporary European History
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