The Parisians during the occupation – colour photos by André Zucca

Paris’ History Library is currently showing a selection of colour photos never seen before; occupied Paris during the Second World War. Strangely, they give the impression that everything is fine and that everyone is on holiday…
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photos : André Zucca


André Zucca (1897-1973) was the only photographer to take colour photographs of Paris during the occupation. After working as a war correspondent for Paris Match and Paris Soir in 1939, he was requisitioned by the Germans (who rigorously controlled and selected all photos at the time) to work for the propaganda magazine Signal, a sort of copy of Life magazine. However, none of his colour photographs were ever used, as colour printing was reserved specially for photos of the war itself.

André Zucca walked extensively through Paris, taking personal shots that deliberately avoid the scenes we are used to seeing during wartime. Here, people bathe in the sun near the Seine, talk quiet walks through the Paris gardens… It’s almost as if the war wasn’t taking place at all.
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After the war, Zucca’s work for the Nazis led to him being arrested and his press card was withdrawn. However, he left over 7,000 photos behind, 6,000 of which are in colour. 250 of these have been meticulously restored to be shown in the exhibition at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris. They give a unique, personal view of how life went on during a surreal and barbaric period in history. Other photos by Zucca can still be seen at the Paris in Colour exhibition that we’ve mentioned before
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Here’s all the essential information about the exhibition Les Parisiens sous l’Occupation at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris

When: 20th March – 1st July 2008
Where: La Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris, 22 rue Mahler, Paris 4th arrondissement. Métro Saint Paul (line 4), bus 69, 76, 96
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Entrance fee: adults 4 euros, concession 2 euros
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Bigger map here