France has fallen. In the span of just six weeks, beginning 10 May 1940, German forces conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by France and Germany. France was divided in two, with the occupied zone in the north and the French State (État Français), with its capital at the town of Vichy, in the south.
These events are captured by this map with a dramatic simplicity. The map was published between the occupation of France in June 1940 and November 1942, when the zone occupée was renamed zone nord (“north zone”) and the previously unoccupied État Français in the south known was also occupied and renamed zone sud (“south zone”). We suspect that it was published in 1940 or 1941. No reference to the Italian invasion of 1940 is depicted, but what this means is unclear; it could simply be outside the focus of the map. Vichy is given no special marking.
The map is thus a contemporary document from the time of the German occupation. Maps have always played an important roles in administration and distribution of information and this map in no different. There was still a nation to run, after all, now in two parts. Our map details the population of towns and cities across France and plots rail stations designated for the transport of goods between the two zones.
Overall, this is an important contemporary World War II map portraying a divided nation.