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In Museum all the legends of the objects are translated into English.
A booklet will be given to you where all the texts of the historical panels are also translated into English.
Good visit.

We give you here the introductions to the panels history of the Memorial of found Freedom :
(Click on a chapter of the menu below)
How the second war began
The general Mobilisation and the "phoney war"
The French Campaign
The Civilian Exodus and the military break up
The French Prisoners of War
The Vichy regime and the repression
The German Administration in Occupied France
Eating under the Occupation
The Black Marquet
Clothing oneself under the Occupation
Traveling under the Occupation
The Passive Defense and the bombing in the Manche
The German Requisitions
The "Relief" and the Obligatory Work Service
The Collaboration
The Resistance in Occupied France
The Free French Forces
The children in the war
Women in the war




On September 29th 1938, the Munich agreements are signed between Sir Arthur Neville Chamberlain, conservative MP and chief of the British government since may 1937, Edouard Daladier, radical socialist deputy and chief of the French government since April1 938, Adolf Hitler, chief of national socialist party of German workers and chancellor of Germany since January 1933, and the fascist Benito Mussolini in control of Italy since 1922.
These agreements meant to guaranty peace in Europe, allow Germany to annex on October 1st the Sudetes territories in Czech-Slovakia, where strong Germans minorities are living. Hitler’s political objective is to reunite all the German people of central Europe in one state...


The German-Soviet pact is signed August 23rd 1939. From the day after and just until August 27th, the French government calls certain categories of reservists under the flag. The same day when the Germans enter Poland, September 1st, the French radio announces soon after the general mobilisation decreed by the government the day after.
This mobilisation which concerns 4,734,250 French, is confirmed by way of bill boards. The mobilized soldiers represent 11,4 % of the French population and 40% of the active male population...


In May 10th 1940, the Germans break “the phoney war” by passing to the offence to the west. They attack simultaneously three neutral countries, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. The Panzer divisions of general Guderian cross the forest of Ardennes, crossing the French border at Sedan, from May 13th.
Like for the polish campaign, the Wehrmacht has a unified command an used together planes, armoured vehicles and infantry. Well that the number of soldiers and the endowment in armoured vehicles of Belgium, British, Dutch and French forces are … the same as those of the Germans, there is not in the allies a unified commandment and the armoured vehicles are dispersed in the infantry units...


From the beginning of the German attack to the west, May 10th 1940, tens of thousands of Belgian ant Dutch civilians come in France to flee south. When the Germans break through the French border three days later, it’s up to the northern populations of the country to take to the road of exodus.
With the passage of the Somme river by the Germans on June 5th and their advance towards Paris, there are soon up to 8 millions civilians on the roads of France, which is not  without bothering the French – British military manoeuvres. Disabled soldiers mix in with the long lines of different sorts of civilian vehicles which have taken the eastern and southern directions of France. It’s the break up...


The armistice between France and Germany is signed on June 22nd 1940 at Rethondes between the French general Huntzinger and the German general Keitel. A second armistice with the Italians entering the war against France on June 10th is signed two days later in Rome. Meanwhile the German troops continue their progression towards the south along the Atlantic coast and reach the Spanish border at Saint-Jean-de-Luz , on June 27th.
The Wehrmacht took 1,830,000 French prisoners during the French campaign...


According to the clauses of the armistice of June 22nd 1940, France cut in two by a line of demarcation. Normandy is part of the north and west zone of the country occupied by the German army. On June 29th 1940, the French government leaves Bordeaux which is the occupied zone to install itself three days later in Vichy, chosen as capital of ‘Free Zone”.
On July 10th, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are reunited in congress. They compare the functions of the French chief of state to field marshal Philippe Pétain as well as the full executive and legislative powers. The old error of 14 – 18 is celebrated as the “saver of France”. Pierre Laval is nominated vice president of the council...


In the occupied zone, as well as the military authorities, a system of German territorial commandment is put in place. It is more or less copied after the French administrative system which, after article 3 of the armistice convention, “engage itself to collaborate in a correct way”.
The superior military commandment in France -  Militär Befhelshaber Frankreich – is assumed by general Otto Von Stulpnagel who installs his offices in the “Majestic Hotel” in Paris. His services entail two distinct branches, an administration department and an economic department...


For the mother of a family, to feed her children during the occupation becomes a real puzzle. Food disappears from the shelves in the shops while the French state regulates their distribution by many laws and circulars. Food fast becomes the first budget of the family and it’s quest mobilises a lot of time because one must line up in front of stores to be served.
If the idea of the state giving ration cards already appears during the “phoney war” on February 29th 1940, they will not be put into affect before the occupation . This doesn’t stop the rationing of certain food stuffs like sugar from March 11th 1940, and milk products on July 31st. Ration cards are given to the civil population from September 18th 1940, three months after the signing of armistice before Germany and Italy...


In order to avoid price rises, the merchandise prices are regulated by the French state. On June 28th 1940, it’s the case of 27 articles sold  wholesale to grocers. On October 21st 1940, a law coded the prices of all products of alimentation.
The combination of direct purchases in stores by German soldiers with a “Reichmark” over estimated by 40%, the need to feed the refugees, the lack of farmers held prisoner of war in Germany and the seizure of stocks by the services of General Supply Base, make that all food stuffs become scarce.
“days without meat”, “days without butter”...


France is the country of the “haute couture” by excellence. The Germans who arrive in June 1940 didn’t forget. They come  systematically to visit the shops and buy the articles  which they will bring back to their  wife on their first leave.
The shops empty while other top materials like leather, cotton or  wool are partially requisitioned for the German army. After the rationing of food, the French are going to be faced by the rationing of shoes by the minister of industrial production. One must have a ration coupon delivered by the town hall order to use it he procedure of ration coupons is set up by the law of February 11th 1941...


The number of individual cars  which can circulate is reduced about 90% by the German authorities. In fact, authorisation to circulate concern mainly the public and sanitary services, certain enterprises as well as the supply service. The Germans requisition tens of thousands of trucks, mainly for transport of material for the construction of the Atlantic Wall.
The drivers who benefit from an authorisation from the German authorities normally can circulate only during the day with their pass visible on their vehicle. Since gas, of which a large amount is requisitioned by the German army, is rationed, new method of energy are adopted ; gas vehicles function on coal. The rare vehicles to circulate at night, like motorcycles, must have black out head lights...


From the declaration of the war, in spite of the distance of the front line, , the prefecture of Saint-Lô and the town halls of the department are charged to install sanitary service, the Defence Passive and the fire fighting services. They must count the cellars which could serve as bomb shelters, reinforce some of these, dig trenches and finally from groups to clean away eventual debris in case of bombing. These volunteers of Defence Passive, equipped with cards validated by the town hall, could be identified by a white helmet, an arm band and a club in order to act in case of looting...


According to the conditions of the armistice, the French government must pay considerable occupation feeds to the German authorities. The amount to 400 millions francs per day, which permits the Germans to requisition authority, all in paying, quantity of grounds and merchandises in France.
In order to house the German soldiers, first of all, the Kommandantur of each commune requisitions and rents most of the hotels and family pensions. According to the paragraph 18 of the Armistice Convention, the expenses of the upkeep of the troops of occupation on the French territory are the responsibility of the French government, thousands of head waiters, house cleaners, cooks, waiters and laundry people who work are paid directly by the prefecture through the municipal receivers. When a commune doesn’t have an hotel, and the German troops are to live there sometimes the school is requisitioned ; often home owners must share with the soldiers by renting one or two bedrooms, sometimes they are simply expulsed from their homes...


Since the beginning of the occupation, the Germans who lack workers to replace the men engaged in combat, open placement offices to encourage the French to go to work in Germany. They start recruitment campaigns by the press and by posters which promise voluntary workers a salary equal to those of German workers, the same social advantages as well as a separation bonus. The voluntary workers in the meantime are very few to present themselves.
The wait for the return of the prisoners of war in France is long for the two sides. The French government and the German authorities agree on the principal of an exchange; prisoners of war for workers. The “relief” is set up in June 1942 by Pierre Laval and his promotion is assured by the Departmental Work Offices relayed by the local pres...


On October 30th 1940, six days after his meeting with Hitler at Montoire, field marshal Pétain addresses the French : “Frenchmen, last Thursday I met the chancellor of the Reich. This meeting created hopes and provoked worries … A collaboration was looked at between our two countries. I accepted the principle.”
Field marshal Pétain believes, like the majority of the French at this time; that the German victory is ineluctable and definitive. He thinks it possible to better the lot of the French and notably that of the prisoners of war by collaborating with Germany. The collaboration will take two faces : ideological and economic...


On June 18th 1940, general de Gaulle makes his first call to the French nation on the English radio : “France lost a battle, but France hasn’t lost the war ! …” He refused to accept defeat and submission an encourages all who think as he does to resist the enemy. Two resistances are coming to develop in France, one passive, other active.
The passive resistance, which consists of not collaborating with the Germans and the Vichy regime, is the most important. It is show notably by the lashing of propaganda posters, the wearing of badges or of blue- white-red clothes, listening the English radio even though it is forbidden, the inscription of the Lorraine Cross or slogans, the distribution of tracts, work pauses, minutes of silence and groups at the burials of allied pilots or besides French patriotic holidays like July 14th and November 11th forbidden by German authorities. Many patriots show their attachments to French values in this way...


June 20th 1940, two days after giving his famous call to the resistance on the BBC, general De Gaulle who rejoined England on June 17th is recognized by the British government as “the head of all free French where ever they are found, who rally to him for the defence of the allied cause”.
In spite of the failure of the British attempt to recuperate in it’s camp the French Navy at Mers-el-Kebir, on July 3rd 1940, which cost the live of 1297 French sailors, general De Gaulle could count on the rallying of a part of the French colonies : Tchad, Cameroun, French Polynesia and New Caledonia who will give a territorial foundation to Free France...


The French children will suffer many bad things during the war. The French campaign which left 92,000 victims in the French Army in 1940 cause the appearance of mono parental families. Often, the oldest of the family must work earlier to support his brothers and sisters.
’s youth which it would like to educate according to traditional principles. A portrait of field marshal Pétain is hung in each classroom and the children must sing every morning a hymn to the chief “Marshal, here we are!” . The mothers day is founded by the state...


During the second world conflict, women of all nations in war will be mobilised and even become real fighters.
In France, they are many to serve since 1939 in the Red Cross, in the sanitary cars sections and as nurses for the fighting units. Women staying at home had to manage their family, often without a husband who they at times replaced in the fields and factories. The many rules and interdictions concerning daily life under the occupation transformed family management into a very complicated task. Aside from this many women involved themselves in solidarity associations such as National Safety  of the Committees of Mutual Aid Help to Prisoners of War. Women also entered in Resistance, often to pass messages and give advice and give advice. Those who are taken by the enemy are deported to the women Ravensbrück camp. Others join general de Gaulle in London and are placed in the Military Mission of Administrative Liaison. These “Demoiselles de Gaulle”, like their nickname, go alone  with the allied military units up to the victory....


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