Christians and Germans
In 1940 the institutions of French society had collapsed. The one exception was the Church, whose hierarchical organisation was still intact and whose influence--as is frequently the case in war--had increased. Within Germany itself the Nazis had at first been circumspect in their dealings with Christians. Although they had finally succeeded in sowing division among German Protestants, Catholics had remained united. In 1940 they realised that for France a change of tactics would be necessary: there would be a much smaller Protestant minority but they would have to treat with 'the eldest daughter' of a Catholic church headed by four cardinals, with a strong Gallican tradition of independence. The Occupation troops therefore approached their task with caution.
As a first step close surveillance of the bishops was ordered. When the advance forces entered Lyons Cardinal Gerlier became temporarily a hostage. 1 Eventually, however, General Henrici, the local commander, allowed him to move around freely within his command area. He was permitted to celebrate mass in the primatial cathedral of Saint-Jean on 14 July, turned by Pétain into a day of national mourning. 2 After the German withdrawal from southern France Gerlier enjoyed the liberty of movement of the three diocesan cardinals. On July 16 he made his first visit to Vichy, less than a week after Pétain had been granted full powers, and had been able to meet Cardinal Suhard in Paris a week earlier.
In Lille Cardinal Liénart received more cavalier treatment. After the occupation of the city he had been summoned to Rüdiger, its temporary governor, and exhorted to use his influence to ensure the population obeyed German orders and resumed work. This was to apply a policy of 'using' the bishops adopted elsewhere. The other feature of the policy, one of conciliation, so that the German forces should not be impeded by the civilian population in their continuing struggle against Britain, was less easy to implement.
Liénart received assurances that his person would be respected, that he