Uproar over WWII Exhibition: Occupied Paris Shown in Full Color
An exhibition in Paris of color photographs of life under the German occupation has caused such a furore that it was nearly cancelled. The photographs, which were taken by an employee of a Nazi propaganda magazine, are now to be shown with new captions explaining their historical context.
A controversial exhibition about Paris during World War II has caused such an uproar that it was almost cancelled.
The Historical Library of the City of Paris is currently showing 270 photos taken during the German occupation from 1940 to 1944. However the library has come in for heavy criticism for not revealing that the photographer worked for a Nazi propaganda magazine and for failing to give any context to the images.
The color photographs are by Andre Zucca, which he took privately while working for the Nazi magazine Signal. His position allowed him to take pictures outside and gave him access to color film, which was extremely rare at the time.
The images, taken between 1940 and 1944, show Parisians going about their daily lives, strolling down boulevards or sitting in parks. There is nothing that would indicate that at the same time thousands of Jews living in the city were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps in Eastern Europe. In fact there are only two photos that include people wearing the yellow star.
Critics have said that the superficial pictures are merely propaganda by a "collaborator" and at first it looked as if the city authorities would cancel the exhibition altogether. In the end, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe asked renowned historian Jean-Pierre Azema to write new captions to go with the photographs to put them in their historical context.
A brand new catalogue was also rushed out. It explains that Zucca "chose not to show anything, or very little, of the reality of the occupation and of its dramatic aspects."
The exhibition "Les Parisiens Sous l'Occupation" runs at the Historical Library of the City of Paris until July 1.
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