Saturday, December 24, 2016

Chantiers de la jeunesse française (Youth Work Camps)

The Chantiers de la jeunesse française (Youth Work Camps), were created in 1940 as an alternative to the compulsory military service in occupied France. It encouraged physical activity, closeness to nature and helping the community. 
The chantiers’ values of hierarchy and old-fashioned morals suited Pétain’s new motto, ‘Travail, Famille, Patrie’ (Work, Family, Nation). In an attempt to help France recover from defeat, the government placed an emphasis on communal singing, which it saw as a unifying force and a healthy physical activity. 
When the Nazis became suspicious of the group,  16,000 members were sent to forced labour camps in Germany after the Nazis occupied the Free Zone. The group disbanded in 1944.
Needless to say, the Chantiers wore berets (in a variety of colours) and even had their own beret labels sewn in. 

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