The liberation of Paris

The liberation of Paris

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Title: Resistance fighters firing a British lMG Bren.303.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Creation date : 1944

Date shown: 1944

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Paris, August 1944

Storage place: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Abteilung Karten und Bilder website

Contact copyright: © BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - BPK image

Picture reference: 09-510173

Resistance fighters firing a British lMG Bren.303.

© BPK, Berlin, Dist RMN-Grand Palais - BPK image

Publication date: June 2013

Historical context

The liberation of Paris in pictures

The liberation of Paris took place from August 19 to 24, 1944. While the allied troops landed in Normandy in June advanced east and took the Falaise pocket (August 12-21), a popular insurrection was organized and led by the Resistance in the capital.

Metro, gendarmerie (August 13), police (August 15), post office (August 16) began a strike which became general on August 18. Under the command of Rol-Tanguy and Chaban-Delmas, various rather ill-equipped groups set up barricades, organize ambushes and even undertake real battles to harass the occupying positions, as at the police headquarters on August 19. On August 23, the insurgents control nearly a third of the city, but their situation is very precarious, for lack of support and ammunition. At the head of the 2e DB, General Leclerc managed to enter the city on August 24 through the Porte d'Orléans, precipitating the Nazi capitulation on August 25.

Highly symbolic, the liberation of Paris is also very “photogenic”. Whether taken by simple amateurs or by more illustrious photographers, the many clichés of the battles have a documentary and artistic scope, like the one studied here, "Resistance fighters shooting with a British lMG Bren.303" .

Image Analysis

Shadow and light

Taken from life, the photograph "Resistance fighters firing a British lMG Bren.303" presents a rather striking scene. It shows two insurgents who are stationed in front of a window in a Parisian apartment located on the third or fourth floor. The first, standing, aims and shoots outside (in the street or towards other apartments) using an IMG Bren.303, a fairly large machine gun. Crouching by his side, the second holds a spare magazine, looking out as he can without exposing himself to possible enemy fire.

Structured by the "frame" of the window, the image also plays on the contrast between the shadow of the darkened room (complete on the left, slightly lit below) and the August light. In the sun, the shooter's white jersey stands out and, against the light, the dark mass of the rifle. In the background, taller buildings are visible across the street.
Embedded and immersed in the action, the photographer focuses his attention on the shooter's action alone, devoted to that tense, suspended, crucial and decisive moment of aiming.

Interpretation

Bitter fights

Like other photos devoted to the liberation of Paris, “Resistance fighters pulling with a British lMG Bren.303” first shows the reality and the bitter fighting waged by the insurgents to retake the city or at least prepare (and facilitate) the arrival of Allied military troops. Both men are civilians fighting with their means (a single weapon, quite impressive it is true, and it seems, a single recharge) against the German army. Far from being symbolic or anecdotal, the insurgency led by the resistance fighters has indeed played a major strategic and political role.

If the “Parisian landscape” here is quite discreet, this urban guerrilla scene nevertheless constitutes a strong and original image in which familiar elements (a room in a classic apartment, a radiator, a window, a view of the apartment buildings). 'opposite) read differently, integrated as they are in an exceptional situation.

By perfectly rendering the intensity of a precise moment, the photographer deploys with a certain art an effective symbolism, which shows men struggling to tip the city from the shadow of the Occupation into the light of the dearly won back.

  • War of 39-45
  • Occupation
  • Resistance
  • Liberation (war)

Bibliography

Jean-Pierre AZÉMA, New history of contemporary France, volume XIV “From Munich to the Liberation, 1938-1944”, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. “Points Histoire”, 1979, new. ed. 2002.

Larry COLLINS and Dominique LAPIERRE, Is Paris Burning? Paris, Pocket, 1964.

Jacques KIM, The Liberation of Paris: the historic days of August 19 to 26 as seen by photographers, Paris, Artra, September 1944.

Édith THOMAS, The Liberation of Paris, Paris, Mellottée, 1945.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The liberation of Paris"


Video: Battle of Paris 1944