A particular status

German notice boards in Lille, in 1940.

In June 1940, France was divided by the occupiers into several zones:

  • 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 departments 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 separation would subsequently ease, the two northern departments were still under an exceptional regime until the end of the Occupation, with the Germans exercising greater power than elsewhere in France.

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