HomePhotographyAndré Zucca: Propaganda images from the 1940s in Occupied France
André Zucca: Propaganda images from the 1940s in Occupied France
André Zucca was born in 1897 in Paris, the son of an Italian dressmaker. After spending part of his youth in the United States, he returned to France in 1915. He served in the French Army during World War I and received the Croix de Guerre for being wounded and decorated. He began working as a photographer following the conflict.
Starting in 1935, he wrote for various news organizations, including L’Illustration, Paris-Soir, and Match. He covered the Phony War in the press from September 1939 until the Fall of France in June 1940.
In 1941, he was hired by the German army as a photographer and correspondent for Signal, a Wehrmacht propaganda publication. His photographs were utilized to promote a favorable impression of Germany’s occupation in France while also encouraging French males to join the Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism, a collaborationist militia deployed on the Eastern Front.
Some believe André Zucca’s collaboration with the Nazis was motivated by any ideological sympathies he may have had, while others claim he was a right-wing anarchist.
He was a professional photographer for the Signal newspaper, responsible for most of its photographs during World War II. He had access to Agfacolor film, a rare and expensive piece of color film at the time, because of his collaboration with the Germans. Today, his best-known works are his colored photos of daily life in Paris under German occupation.
Following the capitulation, he was put on trial by the French Provisional Government in October 1944 for “complicity” with the enemy during World War II and his journalistic privileges were permanently revoked. Because of the testimony of a resistance member who spoke up in his defense, the court decided that no further legal action should be taken against him. André Zucca reinvented himself as André Piernic and moved to the French town of Dreux, where he established a tiny photo store, taking wedding and communion photographs. He died in 1973 at the age of 56.
In 1986, the Bibliothéque Historique de la Ville de Paris acquired his photographs of occupied Paris taken during World War II and other items. In 2008, Gallimard, a major French publishing house, collaborated with the city of Paris to produce an exhibition showcasing André Zucca’s wartime images. The exhibition generated a significant amount of debate because it showed what appeared to be a carefree, wartime Paris.