Paula Schwartz, Middlebury College
Paula Schwartz is the Lois B. Watson Professor of French Studies at Middlebury College, where she teaches courses on twentieth-century French history and culture. Her scholarship focuses on the Resistance movement of the Second World War, food studies and food protests, gender studies, and French communism. Her long-standing passion for food also finds expression in teaching: “I eat therefore I am: Food and Culture in France,” (a course in the Department of French and Francophone Studies), and with Ellen Oxfeld, an International and Global Studies seminar titled “Global Consumptions: Food and Eating in Comparative Perspective.” She eats pasta almost every day.
“Groveling for Lentils”: Hunger and Memory in Occupied France
Hunger was the single most powerful memory of everyday life during the Second World War for millions of French and other Europeans who lived under German occupation. The direct or indirect result of total war, hunger reached well beyond the European continent, from shortages in Great Britain to full-blown famine in India and China. This paper examines how the production, distribution, and consumption of food figured in German occupation policies and practice, and whether mass hunger and starvation were the fortuitous by-products of German war aims, or intentionally used as a weapon against France and the other occupied nations and territories of Europe. This paper assesses these questions primarily as they pertain to occupied France (1940-1944), where German requisitions of foodstuffs and other commodities fueled popular perceptions that the enemy was out to starve and humiliate the people.
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