Rich and Poor
An ordinary scene in 1915. On Rue Ernest Allard, a woman hands out bread and milk to mothers who came with their newborns. Her hat betrays her social condition: she belongs to the bourgeoisie. For the wealthier classes, philanthropy was a form of patriotic engagement during the war. Caring for the weak was a battle waged in the name of national survival. However, for the middle classes, German occupation was also a synonym of scarcity.
As the war continued, shortage not only affected the working class. Economic paralysis, currency fluctuations and unpaid rents undermined part of the middle class economy. These “new poor” were forced to seek help with specific charity institutions, which carried significant names such as “L’Assistance discrète” or “Cantines bourgeoises”. This almost-generalized social help would not be forgotten after the war, paving the way for the welfare state of the 20th century.