This page is one of the annex pages of www.understandfrance.org, the foremost site on Franco-American intercultural differences. It contains documents, facts and figures illustrating the content of some of its pages.

Facts & figures

 This page contains Facts and Figures about France and the French. Some are significant, other less so....

(credit)
 History : WWII    

Losses in World Wars : a comparison USA / France / Britain :
     civilians (killed) in 1000s  military (killed) in 1000s  Total population (million)  losses as % of total population
 WW1  USA  negligible

 50

 85

 0,06%
   France  small

 1,400

 40

 3,5%
   UK  negligible

 800

 39

 2,05%
 WW2  USA  negligible

 300

 140

 0,2%
   France

 350

 250

 40

 1,5%
   UK

 62

 326

 47

 0,8%

For a city of 50,000 for instance, the monument to the victims of the war would bear :

  • in the USA : 29 names for WW1 and 107 for WW2
  • in UK : 1,026 names for WW1 and 347 for WW2 (plus : 66 names of civilians)
  • in France : 1,750 names for WW1 and 313 for WW2 (plus : 438 names of civilians)

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About life during the German occupation (June 1940-end 1944) : for an " average " Parisian in 1942 (labourers and teenagers had little more, old people a little less), the quantity of food he/she could buy with the monthly "tickets de rationnement " (food tickets) was enormously reduced compared to 1939 :

  • Bread : from 13,5 kg to 8,5 kg ( - 37%)
    Potatoes : from 15,5 kg to 2 kg ( - 87%)
    Meat : from 3,5 kg to 0,6 kg ( - 83%)
    Wine : from 12 liters to 4,5 l. ( - 62%)
  • Until 1948, everything was rationed (including coal, tobacco, wood, textiles, etc...) and delivered only upon presentation of the corresponding ticket.
  • The prices were extremely high when compared with average monthly salaries (1,200 Francs for a manual worker, 2,500 to 3,500 F for a bank clerk) :
    Butter 250 to 350 Francs/kg (one week salary!)
    Coffee : 1,000 to 1,200 F/kg (one month salary!)
    Potatoes : 7 to 10 F/kg (one hour salary)
  • On the " Black Market " (if you could find what you needed), prices were even higher but people in cities could not survive without it.
  • Globally, the legal ration was 1,150 calories per day per person (it is considered that 2,500 to 2,800 calories are necessary to survive in average conditions of life).

(Source : H.Amouroux, La vie des Français sous l'Occupation, a classical book on the period)

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 History : miscellaneous   About anti-semitism in France

Facts and figures on slave trade (source: Le Figaro Jan.31, 2006):

    • Main actors of transatlantic slave trade (millions of victims) (source : Hugh Thomas)

       Portugal

       4,65

       Great-Britain

       2,6

       Spain

       1,6

       France

       1,25

       Netherlands

       0,5

       British colonies in America

       0,3

       Others

       0,1
    • Total number of victims (estimates)

       Trade
       Million

       Source
      Oriental trade (to Maghreb and Middle-East) - VIIIth to XIXth Century

       17
       Ralph Austen
      Internal (African) trade

       14
       Patrick Manning
      Transatlantic trade - XVth to XIXth Century

       11
       Hugh Thomas
    • Abolition of slave trade
       

       Date

       British colonies

       1833

       French colonies

       1848

       Dutch colonies

       1860

       United States of America

       1865

       Spanish colonies

       1865

       Portuguese colonies (Africa)

       1869

       Brazil

       1887
  • Milestones for France :
    • 1685 : Code Noir (Black Code) : official regulation of slave trade (Louis XIV)
    • 1791 : Upheaval of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti)
    • 1794 : the French Revolutionary Assembly abolishes slavery (Abbé Grégoire)
    • 1802 : Napoleon re-establishes slavery
    • 1848 : the new Second Republic abolishes slavery (Victor Schoelcher)

   Communism in France : a decreasing trend (Source : Le Figaro, March 27,2006)
   % of votes for Parliament or presidential elections (P)  number of members of the party  circulation of the party's daily newspaper l'Humanité  Name of Secretary General
 1946  28,2%  800,000  450,000  Maurice THOREZ (1936-1964)
 1951  26,1%  400,000    
 1956  25,9%  450,000    
 1958  18,9%  500,000    
 1962  21,9%  700,000  200,000  
 1967  22,5%  700,000    Waldeck ROCHET (1964-1972)
 1968  20%  600,000    
 1973  21,4%  600,000   Georges MARCHAIS (1972-1994)
 1978  20,6%  600,000    
 1981  16,1% (P) 250,000    
 1986  9,7%  150,000    
 1988  11,2%  150,000    
 1993  9,1%  150,000    
 1997  9,9%  150,000    Robert HUE (1994-2001)
 2002  4,9% (P)  134,000  50,000  Marie-Georges BUFFET (2001- )
 2007  1,97% (P)  100,000?  50,000  

Major dates of French Communism :

  • 1920 : Congrès de Tours = split from the Socialist Party
  • 1936 : supports the Front Populaire (but refuses to participate)
  • 1939 : outlawed (after Hitler/Stalin pact)
  • 1941-44 : very active in the Resistance (but only after Hitler invaded Russia)
  • 1945 : participates in de Gaulle government
  • 1972 : signs the Common Program of the Left
  • 1976 : abandons the "dictatorship of proletariat"
  • 1981 : 4 communists in Mitterrand's cabinet
  • 1997 : 3 communists in Jospin's cabinet

Back to "society"

 

Are the French as anti-Semitic as the US press says ?

This is a frequent question and it needs a serious answer.

  • First : yes, the French were anti-Semitic before WW2, but one must add : like many countries in the world (remember Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh?) and without the murderous side of others (like Russia and a few others).
  • Second : yes the Vichy government cooperated with the Nazis to deport the foreign Jewish population (as it was trying to protect the French Jews) which was not only criminal but also stupid and inefficient but : in occupied Europe could any country resist the criminal Nazi constraint ? What did the other occupied countries do (Belgium,Italy, Norway tp name a few)? Not better if you look at figures.
  • Third : for most Americans, being anti-Semitic and criticizing the state of Israel are synonyms
  • Fourth : there are anti-Semitic incidents in France, often in form of hostile graffitis, generally created by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists and most of them involve the Muslim community in France.

Adrian Leeds, a long-time resident in Paris and a member of the Jewish community, wrote on her blog (Apr.2,2014) that Americans should not trust blindly US media sources close to the Jewish community which are far from the alleged facts and that "any information that comes out of a source with a cause is a one-sided view on reality and not the kind of information I'd choose to believe" and she concluded "And just for the record, I've never personally witnessed nor been a party to any anti-semitic act or verbal attack here in France, nor have I ever felt any disdain or disapproval because of my religion or ethnic background by the French or anyone else for that matter.".

Why is such a statement ("All the French are ant-Semitic") common wisdom in the US ?

  • no doubt that the shameful and unforgivable Vichy government cooperated with the Nazis,
  • no doubt that anti-Semitic feelings were largely shared in France before WW2,
  • but today, no doubt that many Americans love to hate the French and alleged anti-Semitism is a frequently used form of French bashing.

Back to the Jewish community in France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books:

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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