The First World War erupted in 1914 in northeast France and after two years of German victories, fell into the horrors of trench warfare. The United States entered the war in 1917 and helped France to victory. The Allies demanded generous restitutions and payments from the Germans, who resented the humiliation for years, and was one of the factors which sparked WWII.
Despite the devastation of the war, the Entre Guerres (Between Wars) period allowed France to hold a leading role in the avant garde movement. From Paris to the Riviera, France attracted experimental artists, musicians, filmmakers and musicians from all over the world.
In 1940, the Germans invaded Paris and occupied the north and west parts of France until 1944. The rest of the country was under the authority of the puppet Government of Vichy led by Marshal Petain. Simultaneously, General Charles de Gaulle was organizing the Resistance movement of the Free France from London. Soon after the American, British and Canadian military invasion on the Normandy Beaches on June 6, 1944, de Gaulle entered Paris to head the new government of the Fourth Republic.
The postwar years deeply changed French society: consumerism was born, the service sector rapidly expanded, and high-tech national projects were successfully launched (Concorde, TGV…). Meanwhile, in the 50’s and 60’s, France had difficulty in coping with the claim to independence of its African and Asian colonies and with the liberalization of its society, leading to wars in Algeria, Indochina (Vietnam) and the violent student revolts of 1968.
World War I
The Popular Front’s social programs
France declares war vs. Germany
Paris falls, Vichy’s governement formed
D-Day and victory of the Allies and Fourth Republic led by de Gaulle
War in Indochina
War of Algeria
De Gaulle initiates Fifth Republic
General strikes and students riots in Paris