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Title: Abandoned populations, trust the German soldier!
Author : MATEJKO Théo (1893 - 1946)
Creation date : 1940
Date shown: 1940
Dimensions: Height 123 - Width 87
Technique and other indications: Paper, printing
Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website
Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo Army Museum
Picture reference: 09-541603 / Gg 1
Abandoned populations, trust the German soldier!
© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais - Photo Army Museum
Publication date: April 2012
The first German propaganda poster circulated in France
The armistice of June 22, 1940 made official the defeat of France against the Nazis. The “occupied zone”, which corresponds to the northern half and the Atlantic coast, came under German occupation, while the “free zone”, located south of the Loire, came under the direct responsibility of the Vichy government. While French sovereignty is exercised in principle over the entire territory (except in Alsace and Moselle), in fact, the occupying power submits the country to its domination and its decisions.
Produced and distributed on a large scale from the beginning of the Occupation, the poster Abandoned populations, trust the German soldier! is precisely the first poster published in France by the Nazi regime as part of its propaganda.
As such, it presents an invaluable documentary value, which informs us about the policy of ideological diffusion that the IIIe Reich intends to take action to conserve and organize its new power in France. Graffiti "And what else? .. 1940 ”Which was added to it raises the question of the reaction of the French population to this new state of affairs.
An idealized and "family" scene
Designed by illustrator Théo Matejko (1893-1946), the poster Abandoned populations, trust the German soldier! was printed in large format (123 x 87 cm) and plastered on many walls from the end of June 1940.
The central design is accompanied by a slogan written in large black and red letters, arranged at the top (Abandoned populations,) and downstairs (trust the German soldier!) of the image. The latter represents a German soldier (dressed in his Wehrmacht uniform) with three small French children. Handsome, tall, strong, with light hair and eyes, this "ideal" soldier by Nazi criteria is also smiling and benevolent. He carries in his arms a little boy who happily eats a sandwich, while, standing at his side, two young girls, both shy and now reassured, look at the waiter (and the sandwich) with envy. Charcoal, the graffiti "And what else? .. 1940 "Is the work of E. Criks, a jeweler in Paris, who kept this poster until the end of the war.
From enemy to recourse
Written in French and directly intended for the population, the poster Abandoned populations, trust the German soldier! intends to make the latter understand that the German soldier must no longer be considered as an enemy, but as a protective and nurturing resource for the French families "abandoned" by their "leaders".
Abandoned populations (the overwhelming observation constitutes, at the top, the first part of the message) indeed, since the defeat of June led to the disorderly retreat of the army as well as the massive exodus of civilians fleeing the Nazis (making roads north of France a gigantic chaos), while the government, administrations and local authorities fled or tried to flee south, leaving the populations destitute and disorganized in the face of the occupier.
Anxious to restore order as quickly as possible, the German authorities therefore intend to reassure civilians (trust the German soldier!) by showing by the image that the occupation can be beneficial, benevolent (and even preferable to the previous situation) as long as we accept the new leaders of the country, more solid and more reliable than the old ones.
Without necessarily being representative of the state of mind of all French people, graffiti "And what else? .. 1940 Shows that some do not accept the Nazi occupation.
- War of 39-45
- Petain (Philippe)
AZEMA, Jean-Pierre, From Munich to the Liberation, 1938-1944, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1979.
AZEMA, Jean-Pierre and Wieviorka, Olivier, Vichy, 1940-1944, Paris, Perrin, 1997.
LABORIE, Pierre, The French under Vichy and the Occupation, Paris, Milan, 2003 PAXTON, Robert, The France of Vichy, 1940-44, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1973.
ROSSIGNOL Dominica, History of propaganda in France from 1940 to 1944, Paris, PUF, 1991.
To cite this article
Alexandre SUMPF, "German propaganda"