Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Grandma's story : Life during WWII

Hubby's grandma is a very interesting person, she always have plenty to tell. She lived through the second world war. As an spouse to a marine, she had lived in many places in France and certain part of North Africa. I love her stories, so I decided to jot them down.

Grandma was around 12-13 years old when the Germany occupied France. She lived in a small village in Brittany. Her father was a baker. During the occupation, Germany sent their troops to cities and villages. Villagers had to go to the Town Hall to get food tickets. For each bread they bought, they had to give a ticket to her father. Her father would collect them, and exchange them with flour to continue making bread. As a teenager that needed more food to grow up, grandma was entitled to some chocolates and sugar. 

The German seized some houses and controlled all the supplies. However, according to grandma, the villagers managed to hide away some of their products : meat, wheat, they didn't actually go starve, compared to those who lived in the cities.

The German seized a room from a priest in the village. The room was given to a soldier and his French girlfriend. The priest jokingly said that he should had put a red lantern outside his house. 
Note : During the Medieval time the brothels were required to light a red lantern when they were open (from which is derived the term red-light district).

The German also utilized the existing shops / facilities for their own needs. For example, they baked their own breads by using her father's oven. They sent an Austrian soldier to work in the local carpentry, which was just next to her father's bakery. The Austrian and her family maintained a polite but distance relationship until one Christmas.

On that Christmas Eve, while the family was preparing for the feast, the Austrian soldier came to them to share a bottle of homemade Schnaps. She tried a drop and she remembered that her lips were burning. The Austrian laughed at her and told her that it was not meant for kid. Her father decided to ask him to stay for dinner. 

During the occupation, the villagers had not right to listen to the radios. German troops were patronizing on horses during the evenings. Her father would turn on the radio when he heard the horse going away, and she would help to spot when the horse came back again.

Grandma hates people wasting bread as she lived through a time where some people couldn't afford to have bread. She had to save up a lot of ticket for textile to eventually get her wedding dress done several years after the war as France was going through a phase of recovery.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:41 AM

    Both of my maternal grand-parents had very different experiences during WWII. My grand-mother was in a small village and from what I understand, Germans around were young kids who ended up there without completely being brainwashed by the Nazi ideology. My grand-father, on the other side, ran away from various places, ended up in Paris and most of his family was deported. They rarely talk about it.