Moral borderlands
Criminality during the occupation
in The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18

This chapter considers a range of criminal behaviours carried out by the occupied French, an understudied aspect of the experience that became an important facet of occupied life. It outlines the methodological challenges involved in such a study, before explaining the difficulties the local French police faced during the occupation. It then examines different types of criminality in detail in an attempt to assess their extent and the motives for such conduct. The forms of criminal action examined are: theft from Germans, compatriots, and relief organisations; fraud, including to the detriment of relief organisations; smuggling; fabricating money; and youth vandalism and ‘vagabondage.’ The chapter also provides an insight into the way locals understood criminality, and ends by demonstrating the fears local notables had regarding the post-war future and morality of the region given the perceived widespread scale of criminal actions.

The experience of occupation in the Nord, 1914– 18

Living with the enemy in First World War France


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