Refugees flee the German advance

Across France refugees started to clog the roads in fear of the German advance.

The German advance through France towards Paris resumed in earnest on the 5th June. For those in the path of the German forces there seemed no alternative but to move out of the line of possible battle. Many did not have a clear idea where they were going. Many people left in a panic, throwing a few possessions on a cart. Along the route food became scarce as the mass exodus gathered pace. Towns in the path of the refugees became overwhelmed, accommodation ran out and people were forced to sleep rough. The sense of panic infected those who met the columns of refugees, causing ever more people to join their lines. Soon the panic had spread to Paris.

France was confused, tangled up like an immense skein of wool being manipulated by a superhuman, evil power. Soldiers and civilians—soldiers without their leaders and leaders without soldiers—mothers who had lost their children, children who were lost and who were crying alone on the roadsides four days’ journey from their bombed homes. Other couples were fleeing on foot dragging cases which were tied up with string, young people on bicycles overloaded with packages of all kinds… all this formed a deeply moving and pitiful mixture of bravery and panic, calm courage, distress, and (what a marvellous thing!) good humour, the will to live and fear of death

See Andre Morize: France Ete 1940

Comments on this entry are closed.

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: