The period 1934 to 1944 was a decidedly unhappy one for many French men and women. During the Occupation, they were confronted by a series of agonising decisions which were never easy to reconcile. Nor had the prewar years bred optimism and contentment. The self-confidence that emerged out of the victory of 1918 proved brittle, and was unable to withstand the impact of a Depression, which stubbornly refused to go away. As the gloom settled, unease spread through all walks of life. Politically, the Republic appeared incapable of sustaining firm government. Economically, France seemed at a standstill, especially in the countryside, and where there was technological innovation in industry, it exacerbated social divisions, swelling a working class which already felt isolated from the rest of the nation. Demographically, the population stagnated despite strict controls on abortion and contraception, the encouragement of immigration and an official pro-natalist campaign that sometimes bordered on the licentious. Religiously, whole areas of northern industrial France seemed lost to Catholicism. And, culturally, France was thought vulnerable to the harmful currents of Americanization that swept across the Atlantic.