This film is part of Free

New France

English tourists queue for visas and the wine begins to flow again, while German POWs clear minefields, in this sober but optimistic account of France’s post-war recovery.

Documentary 1946 19 mins


Cobwebbed factories, crowded soup kitchens and coffins being made on a production line illustrate the sombre reality of life in France in 1946. The film from March of Time stresses both the importance of American financial aid and the need for France to choose a government which could implement reconstruction effectively. A shot of an English tourist wearing a knotted handkerchief on his head provides a counterpoint to the post-war gloom, indicating that life is slowly returning to normal.

The outcome of the 1946 French elections was significant not only for France but for the future of Europe as a whole. The post-war coalition government saw the three main French political parties - the Catholic MRP, the Socialist Party and the French Communist Party - sharing the responsibility for the five year plan which was to be implemented with a massive loan from the USA. The basis for this loan had been negotiated by former Prime Minister Léon Blum and Jean Monnet, who is seen here speaking at the French Supply Council in Washington during the war. Monnet was largely responsible for setting out the five year plan for reconstruction and redevelopment which was made possible by the loan.