The man was a young boy when the war broke out and the German army occupied Paris. THe boy remembers the adults hiding assets and the people went on with their lives the best they could, not really knowing what would befall them. Occasionally the lad would go out to the country and get a ride in the back of a German troop transport to save time getting home. What he notices were that the trucks were full of soldiers that were grown men. They realized he was just a kid, many soldiers probably had families of their own, and they realized the kid wasn’t there to hurt them.
As the war dragged on, what was produced as a luxury good in France with foods became scarce. The foie gras and other treats would be shipped back to Germany to partake, leaving the French with scares supplies of their delicacies. The other thing the young man notices were that there were two types of German soldiers in Paris. The first had a neat uniform and looked clean, the other, had hand made patches of sorts with his uniform that was a bit tattered.
The first were the German soldiers that had been sent to occupy and probably didn’t really have to fight in the war. The second were the soldiers who fought on the eastern front in Russia that were somehow reassigned. The uniforms were a bit different, as the soldiers patched and made their own patches out of whatever material they could.
In addition to the French underground of resistance. There was also the French underground of gastronomie. The closest analogy I can come with is like prohibition during the 1920’s and 30’s in America; speakeasies were opened where people could go have a drink in places you had to know the password to get in. I am told the French had such places, but as a place to get a full French meal.
The young boy was older, and he realized that the war was going to end when he heard of the start of the Normandy invasion. Paris was rather deserted that day and he saw a German panzer come up to him in town and the crew popped out for a break and asked where was petrol and which road was the way to “Normandy”
The boy figured that the tank crew had driven all night, looked exhausted, and had a look in their eyes that he had seen men driving off, who seemed to assume they already had their death sentence signed and delivered, yet, were still alive.
As the war came to a close, the young boy would still go out into the country at times, and sometimes he could hitch a ride on a German transport. When he got into the truck, he remembers it was not soldiers who were men, but rather, teenagers and young lads close to his age. They would ask, “Why aren’t you fighting in the war?”
The young boy would shrug his shoulders, “I am French. The war was over for us long ago.
The young Germans teens would look at the young teen, not much younger than them, and nod in a sort of understanding, as if to say, “the war will soon be over for us too.”