In Alsace Moselle
The war took a turn when on 2 February 1943 Paulus capitulated in Stalingrad. The great Reich was thrown into “Total War” and Alsace and Moselle with it. In daily life, rationing became stricter, requisitions and searches in favour of the front were multiplied, and restrictions and repression intensified.
The propaganda became haunting and omnipresent, and was focused against the Bolsheviks and the Allies, against the monopolisers and the traffickers and also against defeatist rumours. The population also suffered from Allied bombardments that destroyed the economic and military installations. It was also time for mass mobilization. All unemployed men aged 16 to 65 years old and all unemployed women aged 17 to 45 were required to sign up in the work bureaus. People who had served in the French Army in 1939-40 were enlisted by force.
In 1944, the number of work hours increased to 72 hours. Factories and businesses not producing for the war effort, as well as cinemas and theatres, for example, were closed down.
In September 1944, ahead of the advancing Allies, all available men between 16 and 65 were made to dig trenches and anti-tank obstacles, while the evacuation of certain places is ordered. In October, the authorities instituted the Volksturm, a sort of people’s militia forcibly gathering up the last reserves of 17 to 60 year-old men still available. Those rallied up created the Elsässiche Freiheits-Front (The Front for Free Alsace), which fought till the end.
But one month later, Metz, Strasburg and Mulhouse were liberated.
Pockets of resistance remained. Colmar was liberated on 2 February 1945 and northern Alsace and Moselle at the end of March 1945.