After the First World War, France was in a deplorable state, its richness is deeply undermined and the whole French social and political society collapsed. The era between 1920 and 1945 amounts the rehabilitation’s period and the Second World War. Thus, only twenty-seven years separate the armistice of the second disastrous conflict but this small time had been enough forthe French to see three different politics groups, the occupation, and the liberation. To simplify this complex period, this essay will be divided into five distinct parts: France transformed by the war, the political life within the country, the economic crises of the twenty’s, the Popular Front and finally the collapse of France.
The First World War let France completely desolate, and beforegoing any further in the study of this era, it is fundamentally important to be aware of the French situation after the armistice: tenth of the national heritage had been destroyed, the French capital has passed from 45 billion francs in 1914 to a debtor situation of 32 billion in four year and 1.4 million people had been killed. But the society hadn’t only been shaken in a human and material way.Effectively, the traditional bases were also weakened by the consequences of the war but the rapid modernization of the economy and rehabilitation would engage social changes.
The Napoleon code, the previous pillar of the French social model, was not longer as important as so many couples had been destroyed by the war – there were about 630 000 war widows – and the divorce became part of thecustoms. The women status was in that way changed, there were freer, and their professional skills started to be acknowledge as the long men mobilization had forced them to ensure new responsibilities. From the factory to the farm, the women became the “patronne”, the “boss”.
In another point of view, the growing inflation, provoked by the war and badly handled until 1926, put into question thecertainty of the bourgeoisie class, confronted to the changing value of the franc. Effectively the increasing prices allowed some skilful speculators to make a fortune extremely rapidly and who, by that, despise the traditional bourgeois virtue of works and savings.
The economic modernization of the twenties saw the expansion of new social groups. The ascension of new industrials leaderscoincided with the recruitment by the big societies of a more competent personal, which would reinforce the difference between the workers of a same company. This industrial expansion augmented the number of workers, which reached seven millions by 1931. At the same time, the scientific organization of work deeply modified the signification of the factories worker’s job. These people attended to thedisappearance of their jobs, learned from a long apprenticeship and result of social consideration. From now on they were at distance from conception tasks, handed over by the power foreman and worked in assembly lines. The French worker movement was going through a difficult time after the failure of the great strike of 1920.
But the Cartel collapsed in 1925, incapable to face the financialparalysis. Only Poincaré back to power by 1926 was in position to act by forming a “moderate” government, gathering the radicals and right-wing’s parties.
It’s in 1931 that French had to face the economic crisis. The whole industries and agriculture’s domains were completely paralysed and in that way it directly caused social problematic consequences. The average income of the French decreased, forexample, by 30% between 1930 and 1935. The most affected people were those of the middle urban and rural classes. For the farmer, the income declined, reaching 59%. And for the wage-earner, the salary reduction was about 25%.
The crisis exacerbates the differences between social groups. The victims accuse the public servants, who have job’s security, when the peasants, calling for the stop of...