The personnel during the war

The conditions imposed by the occupiers generated a sense of rejection among the railway community, leading to protests through strikes and acts of daily resistance. For some, this resistance extended to armed engagement through acts of sabotage and intelligence gathering.

During the Vichy regime, railway workers were under the authority of the Wehrmachtverkehrsdirektion, which mandated the presence of German railway workers to oversee the operation of the network by their French counterparts. They were also subjected to intense propaganda efforts aimed at encouraging collaboration.

You will find here a selection of documents on the theme of personnel during World War II:

0026LM0036-003 (pages 173-174)

Remuneration and working conditions of French locomotive drivers occupied by the DRB (1943)

This document discusses in detail various aspects of remuneration, including communal housing and food in accommodation barracks, salary, relocation allowance, family allowance, night work, and medical benefits.


Order of the day No. 56, signed by the Chairman of the Board, Pierre Fournier, discusses two types of actions to be taken at the SNCF regarding employees who collaborated with the occupiers. Administrative purging (Decree of June 27, 1944) requires the establishment of committees, the composition of which is detailed in the document. National indignity (Decree of August 26, 1944) is subject to a specific procedure developed by a decision from the Minister of Public Works and Transport on September 13, 1944.


Order of the day No. 51 is a ‘Call to Railway Workers in Response to the Increasing Attacks.’

In Order of the day No. 51, the Director-General conveys the appeal of the Minister, Secretary of State for Industrial Production and Communications, Jean Bichelonne, regarding the escalating acts of sabotage occurring on railway installations.


Letter from the Ministry of Industrial Production and Communications addressed to the Directorate of Railways regarding the use of female labor by the SNCF

As of January 31, 1944, women make up 11.5% of the total workforce of the SNCF. Considering that this percentage is far below that of women employed by German railways, the Delegate of the Reich Minister of Communications has requested a significant increase in female labor to the Labor Service of the Ministry of Industrial Production and Communications. The latter is therefore requesting the SNCF to provide tables for both central and regional services, indicating the job categories where women are currently employed and those where they could be utilized.


“The country has its eyes on you, railway worker, rise to the occasion” (1944)

This poster appeared in Bulletin No. 127 on July 21, 1944.


“Railway workers! A careless word can provide the enemy with vital information, know when to keep silent” (1940)

This poster, received from the Commercial Service of the SNCF, urges employees to exercise caution in their interactions to avoid aiding the enemy. It depicts an SNCF agent with a tricolor flag over their mouth.

Z2121-001 (page 74)

District Bulletin (10th district of Chambéry) of the Traction Service for the Southeast Region, No. 43

This bulletin, titled ‘SNCF in Honor,’ expresses gratitude for the efforts of railway workers in providing assistance to prisoners of war.

Z2121-001 (page 52)

District Bulletin (10th district of Chambéry) of the Traction Service for the Southeast Region.

This document encourages maintaining efforts to rebuild the territory and emphasizes the importance of solidarity.


“Take good care of your machine because the life of the country depends on you, railway worker” (1944)

This poster was published in Bulletin No. 132 on May 5, 1944.

0414LM0006-002 (page 21)

Search notice for railway workers who aided Allied aviators (1946)

This personnel notice, issued by the head of the 1st Equipment District, seeks railway workers who provided assistance to downed Allied aviators.

0025LM1934-006 (pages 20-21)

Correspondence from the Secretary of State for Communications to combat communist activities.

On July 3, 1941, the Secretary of State for Communications, Jean Berthelot, informed the Chairman of the SNCF Board of Directors that it was ‘important to destroy communism in France.’ He ordered the search for and reporting of ‘agitators’ within the SNCF.

0026LM0036-003 (page 238)

Letter regarding the fine imposed on personnel for participating in a strike on November 11, 1943.

Translated from German, this letter is written by the Chief of the Military Administration Group, Dr. Heck, and addressed to the Distribution Service Directorate of the SNCF regarding the fine imposed on personnel for participating in a strike on November 11, 1943. The letter recalls that strike-related matters fall under the Ordinance of the Militärsbefehlshaber of December 18, 1942, and the ordinances of March 15, 1943, on labor legislation for occupied France, and that the fines imposed are transferred to the National Relief.


This document outlines the penalties incurred in the event of railroad accidents (1940).

On August 7, 1940, Colonel Goeritz, Commandant of the WVD (Wehrmachtverkehrsdirektion) in Paris, sent a corrective letter (translated here) regarding the penalties imposed in the event of railroad accidents. It states that railway workers responsible will be judged by the disciplinary council and French courts. However, offenses that harm the interests of the German army will be judged by German military courts. The various stamps indicate the route taken by the correspondence.

The collection of magazines ‘Notre métier’ (from 1939 to 1946)

  • D01315193: ‘Notre métier’ (issues 1 to 7, from November 1939 to May 1940: wartime series)
  • D01315195: ‘Notre métier’ (issues 1 to 42, 1944-1945)
  • D01315357: ‘Notre métier’ (issues 43 to 86, 1946)

‘Notre métier’ is a professional and social information magazine for railway workers in France, published by the French National Railway Company (SNCF). This magazine is known today as ‘La Vie du Rail’.

0414LM0021-007 (page 7)

Letter from the District Chief of Equipment in Noisy addressed to the Chief of Equipment and Traction Service, listing the number of agents affected by bombings (bombings in Noisy and La Chapelle).

This document distinguishes between those killed on and off duty, those injured on and off duty, the number of family members of agents killed or injured, and the number of agents affected by disasters (total or partial).

0025LM1934-006 (page 72)

Note from the National Front Committee for the Independence of France.

This note from the National Front Committee for the Independence of France, addressed to locomotive engineers and drivers, urges them not to economize in order to hasten the defeat of the Germans.