My name is Pierre, I’m a 19-year-old Frenchman and a history hunter. Not only because I’m an archaeology student, but also because I wander around my city of Dijon, former capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, re-shooting WW2 pictures I found last year on the Web from the same spot and angle.
I originally wanted to show my friends and family how these streets they cross everyday looked like, at a time when freedom was nothing else but a distant dream. A time when my own grandfather walked between these same buildings.
I’ve spent several hours roaming the streets on Google Earth, trying to find less known places, and then planning my itinerary for the day. My laptop in one hand, my camera in the other, I try to find the exact spot from where some anonymous Wehrmacht soldier snapped a picture of his pals, seven decades ago.
There’s one thing I love above this – looking at the old picture while standing there, imagining Germans, the Free French Forces, the uniforms, the rifles, the pain, the joy, and all these situations around me. It feels like I am, myself, a part of History.
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When and where it all began
Dijon was invaded on June 17th, 1940. These are the German troops gathering in front of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, a 14th-to-18th-century building which is the city hall.
On September 11th, 1944, the Allies reached the city
Crowds flooded the streets to celebrate.
This palace remained the town hall and a major tourist spot
The Wehrmacht orchestra playing at Parc Darcy
The 13th century church of Notre Dame overlooks German soldiers
German officers photographed front of the Parc Darcy fountain
Place François Rude
In the forties, Place François Rude was covered with old-fashioned ads. Today, it’s a tourist spot with timbered walls, a carousel and artworks.
Guards in front of a mansion in Rue Monge
I feel personally involved in this picture, since my grandpa Maurice was a baker in this street, and could have been in real trouble if the Germans had discovered he had fled Compulsory Work Service and had a fake ID.
When and where it all ended
The Free French Forces triumphantly drove in front of the Palace of the Dukes. The occupation of Dijon is over.
François Pompon’s Bear
François Pompon’s Bear and two kinds of unexpected guests: thanks to my friends Quentin and Océane for snapping that one!
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