Feeding France's Outcasts: Rationing in Vichy's Internment Camps, 1940-1944


During the Second World War, France established a rationing system that attempted to provide a minimum of food to each of its citizens. It is generally accepted that rationing failed French civilians and worsened the food crisis. If free consumers could not always find enough food, what then of those that Vichy interned in its camps, what then of those that Vichy interned in its camps? This talk examines the ways in which Vichy's rationing laws limited the ways in which camps could procure food and feed the individuals that they interned. It also looks at how food, once purchased made its way to internees and evaluates how much internees likely received. Faced with constant food shortages and hunger,  internees, international aid organizations, and occasionally camp administrators tried as best they could to find additional food.

Laurie Drake is a PhD candidate in the Department of History and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation examines the hunger crisis in Vichy's internment camps and the ways in which the government, camp administrators, internees, and international aid organizations tried to find solutions.