On June 25th, 1940, the Battle of France was over. The country had fallen to the German invader in a matter of six weeks. What ensued was a four-year-long period of occupation, a formation of a puppet state in the southern part of the country, and an army in exile, struggling to once again see the shores of its homeland.
Despite the fact that there was a foreign occupying force present, however, life in France continued – or at least tried to continue – as usual. The famous Parisian cafés and cinémas were now open to German soldiers that were taking leave from the frontline, as well as those stationed in France. The notorious nightlife of which they had heard so much about before the war, with its brothels and clubs running all night, now seemed to be within their conquering grasp.
But what interested the young German soldiers and officers the most were the beautiful and glamorous French girls. Since many of them seemed to show as much affection for the dashing Hugo-Boss-uniform-wearing invaders as any other man, a number of relationships developed all over the occupied area of the country, as well as in Vichy France, which was under de facto German control.
After all, it was all quiet on the Western Front until the Allies invaded Normandy in June 1944, and plenty of young women saw the Germans as charming. On the other hand, many of them saw the officers as means of acquiring goods that were hard to come by in wartime conditions. Regular foodstuffs such as bread and meat all reached a much higher price as rationing took hold.
But when the war ended, all the masks fell. While the members of the resistance struggled to liberate the country, the women who had intimately enjoyed the company of Germans were deemed to be traitors to the cause and downright collaborators.
The punishment for them included brutal public humiliation as their heads were shaven as a mark of collaboration. In addition to this, tar and feathers were also used to further humiliate the women who participated in the so-called Collaboration horizontale.
The term itself pretty much describes the crime, but since this justice was delivered by an angry mob, rather than a court, among the 20,000 women whose heads were shaven, there were also a great number of false accusations.
However, from these forbidden love affairs an estimated 200,000 babies were born. While growing up, these children had to face discrimination, as the wounds of war still ran deep within the French people.