France 1890-1914
the Economy
France 1918-1929
the Economy
France in WW I
Domestic Policy
France in WW I
Intellectual Life

France in World War I : the Home Front

The massive conscription of men into active service created a labour shortage. The industry switched to answer the demands of a modern war - the production of ammunition, helmets, uniforms etc., resulting in the scarcity of consumer goods. To prevent inflation, PRICE CONTROL and RATIONING had to be introduced, especially regarding food, as the country's agricultural production had dropped by 40 %.
The food shortage was dealt with by imports, which again were costly; the ordinary French citizen had to deal with less and worse quality food as well as with less consumer goods (shoes, clothing etc.) as in peacetime, while he was to work harder and was asked to contribute his savings to the war effort (buy bonds).
To meet the labour shortage, women were employed on jobs hitherto reserved for men, in administrations, factories and elsewhere. Another problem was how to finance the enormous costs of the war. State revenue covered only a part of it, WAR BONDS another part; considerable amounts had to be secured in form of foreign loans (mainly from the U.S.A.).

Strikes in May/June 1917 and again in May 1918 showed that the French public was weary of the war and it's consequences.

The war has cost the French government 157 billion gold Francs, 60 million of which were paid for by war bonds, 52 by other loans, only 45 billion through ordinary government revenues such as taxation. An attempt to introduce an income tax was rejected by parliament.

DOCUMENTS Images from Chronik 2000 Bilddatenbank : June 1917 : over 50 % of French soldiers strike
French War bonds, WW I, posted by Library of Congress
Posters American War Relief for France, (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), posted by Library of Congress
REFERENCE Roger Price, A Concise History of France, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, pp.209-218
Philippe Bernard and Henri Dubief, The Decline of the Third Republic 1914-1938, (Fr. Or. 1975, Eng. Trsl. 1985) Cambridge UP 1993, KMLA Lib. Call Sign 944.0814 B518d
Article : France, in : New International Year Book 1914 pp.261-272, 1916 pp.236-247, 1918 pp.222-232 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on March 30th 2007

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