STO – Working for the enemy.
Continuing the series of passport portraits in my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
Jean Pontet is a 29 yr. old Frenchman from Lyon. It is April 1943 and France has been occupied by the Germans for the last three years. By the armistice of June 1940, France was divided into an occupied zone in the north and an unoccupied zone in the south. When in 1943 the allies invaded North Africa the Germans responded by crossing the line southwards and occupying the remainder of France. A few weeks before this passport was issued, they cancelled the Demarcation Line.
The Germans wanted civilian manpower to run their factories. They had tried to recruit Frenchmen to this end, enticing them with the promise of greater food rations and high wages. They were not very successful in this endeavour and so introduced the Service du Travail Obligatoire – STO. It was a compulsory work force to be shipped off to work for the Germans. Jean Pontet was caught up in this. He was issued a gratis French passport by the new Etat Français endorsed 'this passport is issued for Germany.' It contained no written physical description of him, merely his photograph and a French visa allowing him to travel in and out until September 1945. He was sent to Linz in Austria where the Germans were assembling Tiger tanks.
He does not look very enthusiastic on his photograph.