Paris in Wartime: The Propaganda Images of André Zucca

André Zucca was a French photographer who worked for the German propaganda magazine Signal during the German occupation of Paris in World War II. Signal was a weekly magazine published by the German government and distributed to German soldiers and civilians. The magazine featured articles and photographs that aimed to portray the German occupation of Paris in a positive light and to show the French people that life under German rule was not as bad as they may have thought.

Zucca was a prolific photographer who took many photographs of Paris during the occupation. He captured images of the city’s famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, and everyday life scenes on the streets. He also took photographs of German soldiers and officials, and French civilians going about their daily lives.

The photographs that Zucca took for Signal were carefully selected and arranged to present a specific image of the occupation. They were intended to show the French people that the Germans were not cruel oppressors but rather that they were bringing order and stability to the city. The photographs also aimed to show that the Germans were not destroying Paris but rather that they were preserving its cultural heritage.

#1 A crowd surrounds a traveling band as they play music in a Paris street.

#2 Women in military uniforms look at a war memorial commemorating those killed in the First World War just over two decades earlier.

#3 Two women in military-style uniforms shop at a stall selling toys.

#4 A wealthy-looking man and woman ride in a cart pulled by two slim Parisians on a tandem bicycle.

#5 Guard posts stand outside a building the sign of which advertises it as an important spot for the occupying German army.

#6 Stern-looking soldiers from the Wehrmacht march down one of the city’s broad boulevards.

#7 The Nazis were shown as integrated into Paris life in Zucca’s pictures.

#9 A young family, including a man of usual conscription age, sit in the sunshine eating cherries.

#10 Giant Swastikas line the streets of the French capital.

#13 Officers from the Wehrmacht chat with a Parisian woman.

#14 The series is filled with fashionable women wearing stylish outfits and applying make-up, in stark contrast to hardships commonly associated with Nazi rule.

#15 An elderly woman walks along the street wearing the yellow star that Nazis forced Jews to wear.

#19 Parisians cycle past a poster for Nazi-sponsored Europe Against Bolshevism exhibition.

#20 Historians say images such as this one of a Nazi soldier walking freely with Parisians was designed to show the world France was happy under occupation.

#21 Zucca’s photos show women dressed in the height of fashion and courting young lovers enjoying the French sunshine.

#23 A German soldier looks on at lethargic-looking polar bears at the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes, Paris’s famous zoo.

#24 An elephant reaches across from its enclosure to take something from the hand of a youngster.

#25 Two fashionably dressed young men stand by a tandem bicycle towing a carriage of sorts.

#26 A sign advertises Europe Against Bolshevism exhibition, held under the auspices of Nazi front organization the anti-Bolshevik Action Committee in Paris in 1942.

#27 Parisians go about their business, walking down into a subway.

#28 A part of the Seine is pontooned off into a swimming pool, which is filled with hundreds of Parisians grabbing a chance to cool off in the summer heat.

#31 This poster, which reads ‘Assassins Always Return to the Scene of their Crime’, shows Joan of Arc kneeling in prayer, her hands manacled, while below her the town of Rouen burns.

#33 The majority of Zucca’s images show Paris as a thriving, lively city filled with food, laughter, and young families.

#37 Girls and boys play in what appear to be the early forerunners of rollerskates against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower on central Paris’s Champ de Mars.

#38 A soldier and civilians mill around near Cleopatra’s Needle in the Place de la Concorde, one of three obelisks taken from Egypt and re-erected in Paris, London, and New York during the 19th Century.

#39 A flower seller sits outside her shop on a bright, sunny day.

#41 With most petrol diverted to German forces to run their tanks, ships, and planes, civilians were forced to find alternative sources of fuel for their vehicles.

#42 A harried-looking man with two scruffily dressed girls drags a cart through the streets of Paris.

#43 A man dressed in dirty clothes hurries along the road.

#45 Parisian commuters queue to board a bus on a chilly early morning.

#46 Nazi soldiers are shown participating in Paris life and are seen shopping at the market.

#50 A shapely woman leaning over the side of the bridge is the focus of this photograph.

#51 A smartly dressed woman steps from a bicycle taxi.

#53 Poorer-looking Parisians at a down-at-heel street market.

#56 A woman walks a Parisian backstreet, in front of an older gentleman who is marked with the Star of David insignia that Jews were forced to wear.

#57 ‘If you want to earn more… come to work in Germany’.

#58 ‘They give their blood – give your work to save Europe from Bolshevism’.

#59 Street signs advertise locations of German facilities in Paris, with their French names written in smaller text beneath.

#60 Marshal Philippe Pétain, a hero of the First World War who became the head of the Vichy government during the Nazi occupation, is the centerpiece in a shoe shop’s window display.

#61 A young woman checks her handbag while a man sits slumped over a walking stick in front of posters for the City’s famous Moulin Rouge cabaret.

#63 A theatre, which has an Imperial Eagle painted on its wall, proclaims itself as a German soldier’s cinema (Deutsches Soldatenkino).

#64 Senior-looking German army officers stroll past a crowd of French enjoying the afternoon in one of Paris’s outdoor cafés.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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