Food Scarcity

Devised by the Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Lyon (CHRD), Les Jours Sans plunges viewers into the everyday life of the French people during and after World War II. From 1939 to 1949, they were subjected to an organised system of dietary restrictions that profoundly impacted their relationship to food. For those who lived through the period, hunger is a persevering memory. The experience of lack and privation in these years still resonates, both within families and in the collective unconscious of the nation.

Through a series of exhibits, including remarkable images from the era, it treats various issues such as how people dealt not only with the drama and tragedy of war and the humiliation of defeat, but also with shortages of every kind, with mass confiscations by the occupier, and with the general disorganisation of the country’s economy. During the war, the endemic lack of food was painfully felt by the entire nation, and especially by the urban population, which throughout the interwar years had acquired an acceptable standard of living.

Les Jours Sans focuses on Lyon, a city that received many refugees. The difficulties of nourishing its inhabitants became all the more pronounced as their numbers swelled with the influx of displaced people. The exhibition offers a rich visual documentation, with material from public and private collections as well as from archives arranged in a scenography that immerses visitors in the history of the period. It transmits historical knowledge in all its aspects, while also inviting viewers to recall their own family memories and experiences.

Les Jours Sans, 13 April 2017 – 28 January 2018, Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Lyon.

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1. La pénurie s’affiche dans les magasins, ici pour le vin et à confiture, à Lyon. © André Gamet. Courtesy of Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Lyon.