A particular status
German notice boards in Lille, in 1940.
In June 1940, France was divided in several zones by the occupiers:
- l’Alsace and Moselle were annexed to the Reich;
- Franche-Comté, French Lorraine, the Ardennes and Nord-Pas-de-Calais were placed in a "forbidden zone", separated from the rest of the territory by a demarcation line;
- the "North zone" was run by a German military command;
- the "South zone", that of Vichy, would, in turn, be occupied in November 1942.
However, the two départements of the Nord and the Pas-de-Calais were also attached to the German military command in Belgium. The population perceived this as a threat of eventual annexation to the Reich. Until the end of 1941, the occupiers endeavoured to cut all links with the rest of France and with the Vichy government. Although this cutting off would subsequently ease, the two northern départements were still under an exceptional regime until the end of the Occupation, with the Germans exercising greater powers than elsewhere in France.