The Silent Forties
A trickle of African Americans began an exodus from Paris when war clouds gathered over western Europe. On 6 October 1939, one month after Germany attacked Poland—and Britain and France declared war against Germany—U.S. Consul General John Woods announced the order from American Ambassador to France William Christopher Bullitt: all Americans who could not prove they had important business in France were to leave. The wrenching bewilderment many in the black community felt in abandoning the city they called home anticipated the despair French citizens felt in their flight nine months later, as German troops were poised on the outskirts of Paris.
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