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German Soldiers and the Occupation of France, 1940–1944


Part of Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare

  • Date Published: October 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108471282

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About the Authors
  • From 1940 to 1944, German soldiers not only fought in and ruled over France, but also lived their lives there. While the combat experiences of German soldiers are relatively well-documented, as are the everyday lives of the occupied French population, we know much less about occupiers' daily activities beyond combat, especially when it comes to men who were not top-level administrators. Using letters, photographs, and tour guides, alongside official sources, Julia S. Torrie reveals how ground-level occupiers understood their role, and how their needs and desires shaped policy and practices. At the same time as soldiers were told to dominate and control France, they were also encouraged to sight-see, to photograph and to 'consume' the country, leading to a familiarity that limited violence rather than inciting it. The lives of these ordinary soldiers offer new insights into the occupation of France, the history of Nazism and the Second World War.

    • A corrective to standard accounts of the German occupation of France that cover German policy-makers only
    • Argues that occupied France was integrally linked to the larger war
    • The book is based on a wide variety of primary sources, including soldiers' letters, photographs and memoirs
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Drawing on the perspectives of ordinary soldiers, Julia S. Torrie has written an imaginatively conceived and exhaustively researched study of the German occupation of France. The strength of this book lies in the paradox it presents: the opportunities for leisure, tourism, and consumption to maintain morale versus the fear that such practices undermined the will to fight.' Shelley Baranowski, University of Akron

    'Julia S. Torrie provides a fascinating portrait of ordinary German soldiers' experiences as occupiers through the lens of their enjoyable leisure activities (notably commensality, tourism, shopping, and photography) and explores the discordance between these longer-term, 'soft' occupiers and their 'harder' counterparts who transferred into France from other Fronts. The book makes a splendid contribution to the historiography.' Sandra Ott, University of Nevada, Reno

    'The Germans arrived in France in June 1940 as conquerors. As Julia S. Torrie explores in this remarkable book, they soon became economic managers, cultural tourists, private traders, lovers and prolific photographers. Torrie weaves together individual experiences in order to enrich the wider pattern with consummate skill. A tour de force.' Nicholas Stargardt, University of Oxford

    '… an excellent book, a very real contribution to the study of the linkages of consumerism and war. … is a must-read for those interested not only in the German occupation of France during the Second World War but also the larger connections of leisure and war that help explain why war is possible, how it continues, and some of the effects it has afterward.' Bertram M. Gordon, H-France

    '… an important and innovative study …' Sina Fabian, H-Soz-u-Kult

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108471282
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of recurring personalities
    List of abbreviations
    1. Occupations past and present
    2. Consuming the tastes and pleasures of France
    3. Touring and writing about occupied land
    4. Capturing experiences: photography and photo books
    5. Rising tensions
    6. Westweich? Perceptions of 'softness' among soldiers in France
    7. Twilight of the gods

  • Author

    Julia S. Torrie, St. Thomas University, New Brunswick
    Julia S. Torrie is a Professor of History at St Thomas University, New Brunswick. Her publications include 'For Their Own Good': Civilian Evacuations in Germany and France, 1939–1945 (2010).

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