By Lynne Taylor
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Additional resources for Between Resistance and Collaboration: Popular Protest in Northern France, 1940–45
So, for a significant part of the region’s population, the traditional male-dominated, one-income family unit was not and could not be the norm. Thus, a significant proportion of the population was adversely affected by the new regulations which so harshly discriminated against the employment of both women and single men. By denying these women the opportunity to work, the government was condemning them and their families to a life of destitution. Unemployment had reduced the earning power of most of the population.
Children received the same ration allowance as adults in the prime of their life, as did the elderly. Yet children and the elderly had different dietary requirements from the rest of the ordinary adult population. Such rationing resulted in a serious misallocation of valuable and scarce resources. Given that the authorities were battling constantly to make extremely scarce resources stretch to meet the needs of the population, distinguishing the young and the very elderly from the working adult meant that resources could be even more effectively allocated.
FOOD SHORTAGES The extreme food shortages that characterized the period immediately following the invasion required drastic and immediate action. This particular problem clearly fell within the province of the prefecture. One way the Préfet tried to alleviate the shortages was to implement controls over the production of essential foodstuffs, to ensure that the maximum possible was produced and delivered on a timely basis. Initially, he focused his efforts on those foods deemed crucial to the people’s diet: meat and grain.