Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Smile Hard...

Huffington Post

'In Paris last month my wife Alice and I chanced to walk past the Paris Historical Library and discovered housed in its basement through July an exhibit ("Les Parisiens sous l'Occupation") of Nazi propaganda photos of Paris life. The exhibition is completely new because the photos of Vichy-era Paris were in the files of a Nazi magazine, Signal, that were only recently opened. The photos by André Zucca are uniquely in color because no one in Paris but the Nazis could get color film in the war years.....'

While the sight Nazi troops parading in the streets is chilling, even more upsetting are photos of Paris life seeming to go on as usual. The French Lottery continued under the Vichy government. Movies (with European stars - no Hollywood in sight) continued to run. The photos show, as the Nazis intended, a Paris largely going about its normal business except for swastikas flying over key buildings and lurid billboards warning Parisians of the Bolshevik menace. There were special movie theaters for soldiers with special propaganda movies.

The ubiquitous propaganda billboards have the following themes:
- Gibes at the U.S. and British troops for making little progress in Italy.
- Dying children accusing the allies of being assassins, with bombs being dropped on deliberately on civilians.
- Dramatizations portraying German troops as if they were heroes defending Paris against Bolshevik terrorists.
- Invitations to exhibits showing Bolshevik atrocities.
- Nazi recruitment ads for French workers. "They [the German soldiers] give their blood, so you should give your work."
- Appeals to self-interest: "If you want to get ahead," says a poster, "come work in Germany."
- A large "Office for Placement in Germany" promising "Jobs for All."

As the war went on, the photos show the propaganda becoming more desperate.

Eventually Zucca shows the Allies marching into Paris where they were met with endless American flags draped from windows....

Photos in link --Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris