During World War II, the Nazis conquered a considerable amount of Europe and Northern Africa. The lifestyles of those nations changed drastically, though life under German occupation in each country varied widely.
Life in occupied France was very different from life in Poland under German occupation, which was again different still than the experiences of Norway or the Balkans. However, there were many things these nations all experienced: massive food shortages, widespread rape committed by German soldiers, the formation of Jewish ghettos, the departure of Jews to concentration camps, and senseless violence.
The German-occupied countries of World War II showed tremendous strength and resilience, even through the countless hardships they faced.
The Germans Promised That Paris Would Be A Cultural Hub In The New World Order
A journalist for The Observer in 1941 wrote:
"The suggestion is implied that Paris, with its historical, cultural and entertainment value, is to become the chief center of recreation and relaxation for the German overlords of the future."
The German strategy was to flatter Parisians and motivate them to collaborate with the Germans. They heavily praised Paris's arts scene, including their film industry, singers, their writers and actors, as well as their cultural cornerstones (cafes, bread, etc.) and historical monuments. This was all done to not just endear Germany in the minds of the French, but also for Germany to show how well the art and social scenes were doing under Nazi occupation.
In German-Occupied North Africa, Labor Camps Were The Order Of The Day
The Germans occupied several countries in North Africa, including Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Algeria. While relatively few Jews were killed in Africa as compared to the populations in Europe, the conditions were still horrible. Over 10,000 Jews were put into forced labor camps, and all were striped of their basic rights and freedoms. The populations of Jewish people in North Africa stretched back over 2,000 years, and historians fear that if the war had not ended when it did they would have all met the same tragic fate as the European Jews.
The Media In France Was Completely Taken Over
In the occupied portions of France, the media was extremely repressed. There was a new newspaper called the Pariser Zeitung (Paris Newspaper in German) which was published in German, with only a small insert providing the essential information in French.
It did exactly as you would expect it to do, pumping up the "friendship" between France and Germany and providing examples of how the two nations could help each other be the best that they could be. It also included loads of flattery of the French and various aspects of their country, as well as a daily anti-British cartoon.
There Was Fear Of Mass Murder In Eastern Europe
In Nazi-controlled areas of Eastern Europe, mass murders were a sickeningly common occurrence. Besides just sending Jewish citizens to concentration camps, German officers killed thousands of Jews in the middle of city streets. The mass murders of Lviv, Ukraine (part of Poland at the time) were known as the Lviv pogroms; over two separate three and four day stretches in June and July, 1941, over 5,000 Jews were murdered. People were arrested and pulled from their homes, or simply attacked by fellow citizens, like the woman in the photo above.
Even more horrifying mass murders were committed by German officers in the city of Minsk, Belarus, where 30,000 (you read that correctly) citizens were killed and buried in mass graves over a four year period.