By Hanna Diamond
As Hitler's effective armies approached Paris, panic gripped town and the roads heading south packed with thousands of French voters, fleeing for his or her lives, with scant provides and sometimes no vacation spot in brain. All was hoping, as famed writer Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her diary, "not to be taken like a rat in Occupied Paris." In Fleeing Hitler, historian Hanna Diamond paints a gripping photo of the harrowing break out from Paris, highlighting the hardships humans suffered of their determined flight, and underscoring the influence this exodus had on existence lower than Vichy rule. utilizing eyewitness bills, memoirs, and diaries, Diamond exhibits how this ordeal grew to become for civilians and infantrymen alike the defining event of the battle. She tells how, within the Paris area on my own, on the subject of 4 million humans left their houses and fled south, swelling the numbers of refugees till is was once very unlikely to direct the circulate of humanity. the end result used to be overall chaos with a massive rate to pay when it comes to human distress and anguish. Many misplaced their lives as this mammoth caravan of predominantly girls, teenagers, and the aged confronted actually harsh stipulations, or even hunger. Then, after the German supply of peace, because the traumatized inhabitants back domestic, preoccupied by means of the will for security and bewildered through the unforeseen flip of occasions, they positioned their religion in Marshall P?tain who used to be capable of identify his collaborative Vichy regime mostly unopposed, whereas the Germans consolidated their career. the 1st time this significant tale has been advised in English, Fleeing Hitler captures in relocating element the devastating flight and early days of profession after the autumn of France.
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Extra info for Fleeing Hitler: France 1940
56 If this apparent frankness served to reassure people, the growing numbers of refugees arriving in the city suggested a rather diVerent interpretation of events. Those who were evacuated and those who were Xeeing the German invasion from the north were mostly channelled through Paris on their way to their oYcial destination departments. 57 The French Minister for Refugees had never planned for the arrival of such volumes of displaced people. 58 Arrangements were now hurriedly put into place for these populations to leave the city.
Thus, only preliminary plans were laid in the event of the need for the evacuation of Paris. Considerations of practicality were not a priority. The department of the Seine which at that time included the city of Paris and its immediate suburbs would have to disperse itself across twelve diVerent departments in the event of an invasion (see Table 2). Each arrondissement of the city was allocated a host department which seemed to bear little relation to possible existing aYliations among the population.
Peasant families streamed through the capital with their workers, their animals were kept under control, and their carts were tidy and clean. Superbly reassuring orders oVset the anxiety we were feeling and inspired conWdence . . 62 38 exodus Only those whose families were directly involved were likely to take immediate action and plan for departure. For the time being, most Parisians themselves did not follow. Furthermore, by 18 May, despite the worst fears that the Germans would soon arrive in Paris, they did not appear to be marching on the city, preferring to turn their attention to the Channel ports.