Thursday, December 17, 2009

André Zucca

André Zucca was a French photographer who worked for the German photomag, Signal, in occupied Paris during World War II. Most accounts say he wasn't a collaborationist but took the job to earn his living and, not incidentally, gain access to photo equipment and films that would otherwise not be available. His images show Parisians enjoying their lives under sunny skies with few hints of the deprivations, injustices, and barbarities that were being inflicted by the Nazis.

He showed German servicemen behaving as privileged tourists rather than brutal occupiers. He showed the populace at ease in their beloved Paris, queuing patiently at shops and stylishly making do with wooden-soled shoes when leather could not be had, but otherwise seeming unaffected by the austerities of war. The two images of his that show Jews wearing the yellow Star of David do not appear to be making a statement about either their supposed viciousness nor their innocent victimization. Only one photo shows overt symbols of dominance, Nazi flags on a broad boulevard by a park. The Paris he shows, of both the ordinary and well-to-do, is surprisingly, some would say disgustingly, content and free of anxiety.

Zucca's Parisians do not, perhaps will not see the roundup, arrests, and deportations that are taking place in their midst. In her Journal, Hélène Berr wrote time and again of her Catholic friends, co-workers, and acquaintances who would not believe that innocent people were being dumped into concentration camps, that families were being split up — men from wives, children from parents, that hospitalized Jews were being deported, or that children were being packed into cattle cars for transport to the Polish camps. At one point she justly declares herself to be a better Christian than those who professed the religion.*

It's also true that the Nazi policy of genocide was repeatedly blocked by French officials who were willing to arrest and deport foreign Jews but, seeing the Jews of France as French first and Jewish second, took steps to limit the impact of the holocaust on their fellow citizens.**

{André Zucca; source: NYR blog}

Here are some of Zucca's wartime Paris photos:

{Parisian street scene, ca. 1943}

{Rue de Belleville in 1944}

{Street corner}

{A subway entrance in central Paris}

{A vegetable market}

{German officers with a stylish woman; note the ornamental daggers}

{Three ladies with sunglasses taken in the Luxembourg Garden, May 1942; I put this photo in an earlier blog post because it was taken within a few weeks of a diary entry by Hélène Berr expressing her experience perfect joy during a stroll through this garden }

{This is one of the two shots which Zucca took showing the Star of David}

{This is the other one; its somber tone is unlike Zucca's other photos}

{Exposition: Le Juif et la France}

{Newsstand of the photomag for which Zucca did his work}

These following shots come from a web site called 65 Years Ago, Paris:

These shots are from a photo essay in the Times of London:

These two appeared in an essay that appeared in the New York Review of Books:

I've given these images believing them to be in the public domain and will remove any that may be protected by copyright.


See also:

L’Occupation tranquille, which says: "the photos are disturbing to the modern viewer precisely because of their peculiar air of normality, the sense of life going on while atrocities were happening, as it were, around the corner."

Occupied Paris: The Sweet and the Cruel

A beatitude collabo: André Zucca

German occupation photo exhibit causes scandal

Zucca et le choc des mémoires

Les parisiens sous l’occupation

D'Atget à Zucca, ou comment naissent les légendes

An Uncomfortable Truth, or Wartime Propaganda?

Polémique autour d'une exposition sur Paris occupé

André Zucca

Andre Zucca's photographs of gay Paris at war paint an uneasy portrait of city collaboration

65 Years Ago, Paris



* See my posts on Berr's Journal: a silence that rustles with memories and les rides qui étaient pleines de joie.

** On this topic see The Destruction of the Jews of France by Chris Webb of the Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team.

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