Monday, 13 July 2009

No German beer in Paris yet

I love old brewing magazines. It's not just the statistics. There's loads of other weird stuff, too.

I've been spending the few quiet moments I snatch in the evening browsing "The Brewers' Journal" of 1940. I know. I should stop living in the past. Especially the two wars. But I just can't help myself.

The reports of former Paris correspondent of "The Brewers' Journal" are particularly striking. France in the immediate aftermath of the German occupation is not something I've heard much about before. This aricle was written in September 1940.

"Cafés and bistros are re-opening, and the large numbers of German soldiers and "tourists" brought to Paris, Nancy, Rheims, Chartres and other centres make for a substantial rise in consumption. The German news agencies may issue stories of the continued search for a non-alcoholic beer substitute, German men and women may be exhorted to follow the Fuehrer's example and drink only "weak lemonade or fizzy water", in the Paris cafés German visitos, officers and men insist on beer. Even wine is not equally popular, and as to apéritifs, the invaders consider them with utmost distrust.

Some importers and large café proprietors have endeavoured to obtain German beer. They placed orders with Munich, Berlin and other firms with whom they had done some trade before the war, but the German breweries cannot supply them. The chief obstacle seems to be just the factor which propmpted the French to invite the supplies - they wish to rid themselves of the Mark notes which they are accumulating. The German "customers" pay in mark exchange for the sumptuous meals which they take in French restaurants or coffee-houses, and the proprietors' anxiety to pass on these notes as soon as they can will be appreciated. The authorities in Germany, however, seem in no hurry to send such beer as they have, and see their marks come back in return. We cannot say whether this is also true of the Alsace and Lorraine districts. It is not unlikely that there supplies can be obtained from the Mannheim and Kehl breweries."
"The Brewers' Journal 1940" page 727.

The idea of German tourists in wartime Paris is rather weird. Though forcing people to accept their ultimately worthless mark notes isn't such a surprise. The nazis did practice a weird type of financial policy. It seems to have been mostly based on theft of one kind or another. All good stuff for my film "Vive la Résistance!" I'll do my best to work some of this in. The hero is, after all, a café owner.


The Beer Nut said...

René Artois's sister?
[insert obvious punchline here]

Matt said...

I suspect the inverted commas around 'tourists' means it's a euphemism, probably profiteers of some kind.

'Vive la Resistance' sounds like a re-run of 'Secret Army', one of my favourite childhood TV shows.

Chap said...

Ron, Charles Glass's "Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation 1940–44" haas just been published. According to Taki in The Spectator, "I am old enough to have had many friends who spent the war years in Paris under German occupation, and now I read what I always knew to be true: for many, Paris 1940 to 1944 was a non-stop party."

That's not to deny the enormous horrors of the occupation, by the way.