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.

André Zucca occupied France
Nazi occupied Paris: Giant Swastikas line the streets of the French capital. Paris fell to the Germans just weeks after the Nazis launched an invasion in 1940

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.


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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.

André Zucca occupied France
Show of force: Stern-looking soldiers from the Wehrmacht march down one of the city’s broad boulevards, which in the minds of Parisians are more usually associated with strolling and leisurely enjoyment
André Zucca occupied France
‘If you want to earn more… come to work in Germany’: The only Nazi-occupied country to enact measures compelling its citizens to go and work in Germany, which was short of manpower owing to combat in the east, was France under Vichy rule.
André Zucca occupied France
Letting them know who’s boss: Signs in the city advertise sites of German installations, with their French names printed in smaller type at the bottom.
André Zucca occupied France
Important historical record: Zucca’s photographs stand as one of the only full-colour records of live in Paris in the early-Forties

 

André Zucca occupied France
Making the best of it: A crowd surrounds a travelling band as they play music in a Paris street. Zucca’s cheerful depictions of Paris under Nazi rule remain controversial and deeply distressing for many French people who lived through the four years of the occupation
André Zucca occupied France
Uncomfortable legacy: Zucca’s pictures have caused controversy over the years for their portrayal of the French
André Zucca occupied France
Still life: Zucca’s propaganda pictures were bought by the Historical Library of the city of Paris in 1986
André Zucca occupied France
Bustling: Instead of war torn or repressed, Paris in Zucca’s photographs is seen to be thriving with full shops and restaurants
André Zucca occupied France
Leisure: A shapely woman leaning over the side of the bridge is the focus of this photograph. Zucca was given access to the latest – and extremely rare – Agfacolor film to show Paris as a fun loving big city full of happy people When exhibited in Paris in 2008, Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, ordered a notice to accompany the images stating that the pictures avoid the ?reality of occupation and its tragic aspects?
André Zucca occupied France
Trinkets: Two women in military-style uniforms shop at a stall selling toys. Zucca’s pictures show both the hardship for French civilians and the collaborations between the Vichy regime and the Nazis
André Zucca occupied France
A flower seller sits outside her shop on a bright, sunny day: Zucca’s photographs are historically important not only as an example of Nazi propaganda but also because they were shot in colour
André Zucca occupied France
Positive: The Nazis were shown as integrated into Paris life in Zucca’s pictures. Some historians say his work is too easily dismissed as propaganda as shows some truth
André Zucca occupied France
Not all fun and games: Zucca’s depictions of Parisian life under Nazi rule don’t only show a city full or happy, well off people, but also the daily struggles of those trying to get by as best they can
André Zucca occupied France
Important historical record: Zucca’s photographs stand as one of the only full-colour records of live in Paris in the early-Forties
André Zucca occupied France
Kind of blue: Thanks to his access to German Agfacolour film stock, Zucca was one of the few photographers who could made a lot of colour photos, although this seems a little faded by age now
André Zucca occupied France
Getting what they can: Poorer looking Parisians at a down-at-heel street market. The curator of the exhibition five years ago said this collection were never published by Signal and were for Zucca’s own use, perhaps accounting for the realistic depictions some show
André Zucca occupied France
Ambiguity: Following France’s liberation in 1944, Zucca was arrested but he was never prosecuted and continued to work as a wedding photographer until his death in 1973
André Zucca occupied France
Boys sit on a park wall: After Paris fell to the Nazis on June 14, 1940, Zucca was commissioned to work for the Signal the following year to portray the occupation in a positive light
André Zucca occupied France
Basket case: Zucca was a successful photojournalist before the war and his work was published in eminent magazines such as Paris Match
André Zucca occupied France
Business as usual: The majority of Zucca’s images show Paris as a thriving, lively city filled with food, laughter and young families
André Zucca occupied France
Life goes on: Parisians go about their business, walking down into a subway. The majority of Zucca’s images show Paris as a thriving, lively city
André Zucca occupied France
A walk in the park: Shot by Zucca for German propaganda magazine Signal, these pictures show a Paris that is in sharp contrast to the hardships commonly associated with Nazi rule
André Zucca occupied France
Captive city: An elephant reaches across from its enclosure to take something from the hand of a youngster. Zucca was commissioned to show a Paris that was happy under the Nazi yoke
André Zucca occupied France
Positive light: Zucca’s photos show women dressed in the height of fashion and courting young lovers enjoying the French sunshine.
André Zucca occupied France
Controversial: Andre Zucca’s series of photographs, such as these young women posing in unusual sunglasses, showed Parisians enjoying life under German rule.

Source: Paris through a Nazi’s lens: Propaganda pictures of Occupied France taken by photographer ordered to prove city was thriving under German rule

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