Update to A City Street, A Lamppost

I finally heard back from the Roger-Viollet agency with the name of the photographer: Roger Berson. I was not able to find out much about him, but stay tuned. His name led me to the original shot, taken in August 1944, during the liberation of Paris. Had I found it earlier, I could have saved myself some trouble, but would have missed an enjoyable adventure. The shot is much wider that I realized – notice the hats in the window on the left and the name of the shop that at first eluded me.

World War II. Liberation of Paris. F.F.I. with a gun, at the corner of the rue Ramey and the rue de Clignancourt. Paris (XVIIIth arrondissement), August 1944. Photograph by Roger Berson.

So I should dispel any impression that Roger-Viollet does not respond to inquiries, although the response is not rapid. And I can draw your attention to a key detail that I had overlooked – the man in the foreground is carrying a rifle.

Philippa Campsie

About Parisian Fields

Parisian Fields is the blog of two Toronto writers who love Paris. When we can't be there, we can write about it. We're interested in everything from its history and architecture to its graffiti and street furniture. We welcome comments, suggestions, corrections, and musings from all readers.
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18 Responses to Update to A City Street, A Lamppost

  1. Bernard KIRCHHOFF says:

    Interesting photo of a lamppost (to dogs, at least) but I am puzzled by the lonely rifleman.   Was he actually looking for German occupiers? They had already cleaned out many  of the shops and scrammed.    I read some decades back that about  150 percent  of the entire Paris population claimed to have been   members of the Resistance  (OK, I’m exaggerating) but most just bumbled along as well as they could.       

    • The book “When Paris Went Dark” by Ronald Rosbottom provides some useful perspective on resistance participation vs. collaboration. As well, “Les Parisiennes” by Anne Sebba describes the role of women during the Occupation, many of whom discounted their resistance activities as being of little value or interest and did not seek recognition for them after the war. Both are very good reads.

  2. lundberg472 says:

    Your original post about this photograph was so fascinating that it led me to borrow a copy of Jo Baker’s book from the library, since Beckett is a writer whose work I love. I look forward to reading it, now wondering if the man with the rifle makes an appearance in the novel. Your update with the photographer’s name then led me to search Amazon.ca first where I found an outrageously pricey copy of a book that includes Berson’s photos, then ABEbooks where I found and ordered from a French seller an affordable copy, maybe a bit worn: “La libération de paris. les journées historiques du 19 août au 26 août 1944, vues par les photographes barondiot, roger berson, bertrand binevenue, … moratin, g. paris, photo-presse libération” — there are other copies available. My husband is a photographer — I’m the book geek. Thank you for all your posts — how they make us miss Paris! — and for adding to the story of the photo.

    • I also recommend “When Paris Went Dark” by Ronald Rosbottom and “Les Parisiennes” by Anne Sebba. Do let me know what you think of the book of liberation photographs. I may want to order a copy myself.

  3. Heide says:

    My gosh, Philippa — what a fascinating discovery! Isn’t it interesting how different the image appears with a little more context? Your revelation of the rifle is sparking a whole new set of questions, though. Further down the rabbit hole we go! 🙂

  4. victualling says:

    A rifle. No wonder there aren’t many people on the street!

  5. Kiki says:

    Aaah the intrigue gets hotter and hotter….. Now we have a rifle-man too – and hats in the shop window….. gosh, where might this lead us!
    Thank you for this update – brilliant.

  6. Betty says:

    One of my favorite Pinterest time-wasters is finding older street photos of Paris and finding the scenes today-ish via Google Maps. For this photo: https://www.google.ca/maps/@48.8872332,2.347454,3a,75y,84.73h,86.8t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sMNU-hhu60bOuKp1F6W_foQ!2e0!5s20080501T000000!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en&authuser=0. And, lo and behold, there is still a lamppost (albeit a newer one)!

  7. lundberg472 says:

    Another photo by Berson, of A City Street, A Lamppost:

    Hi Philippa,
    I have now received the copy of a book located through ABEbooks where I searched for Berson — it arrived just the other day from France: “Liberation de Paris” 26 Aout 1944.

    It includes another photo by Berson, of the same street corner and lampshade, taken from the same angle, makes me wonder if he might have lived on an upper floor across the street and took photos of street life there during the Occupation.

    Now having scanned the photo to a file, I just have to figure out how to add it to a comment here . . . .

  8. lundberg472 says:

    p.s. that should have been “lamppost” NOT lampshade! too distracted by watching the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team trying to win a gold medal.

  9. mvsc says:

    Neither book cover shows the gun.

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