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7. Ripping the Heart out of Marseille

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Chapter Summary

In a carefully prepared counter to the Allied invasion of North Africa four days previously, German tanks and camouflaged vehicles poured into Marseille on 12 November 1942, drove through the Porte d'Aix, turned down the boulevard d'Athènes and the Canebière into the Vieux Port and the city centre. Marseille was occupied for the first time since 1815. Wehrmacht soldiers took up residence in local schools and filled the bars and cinemas. Although the invaders had much to learn about local culture, they brought with them a solid prejudice against this city, judged as a 'den of international criminals' and a French version of Hamburg. The Germans were not alone in making disparaging assertions about the city. It had become customary for successive French governments to view Marseille with suspicion. Both French and German criticism focused particularly on the Le Panier district, also known as the Vieux Quartiers or quartiers napolitains.

Keywords: French government; German; Hamburg; Marseille

10.1163/9789004265233_009
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