During the Liberation of Toulouse, crowd photography dominated the local press rather than the scenes of combat and barricades that marked coverage in Paris and elsewhere. This article shows how crowd photography contributed to a common construction of republicanism across the Toulouse press and exhibitions. It argues that the circulation of these images not only communicated the message that the “people” were once again sovereign, but also implied that these populations had been instrumental in their liberation, thereby contributing to the mythology of “la France résistante.” Editors mobilized crowd photography to convey to viewers the importance of adopting their republican roles at a time of community reconstruction. Reading the photography of the Liberation of Toulouse reveals that while photographic messaging in Liberation France varied in line with local circumstances, it nonetheless played a potent role in contributing to democratic resurgence.
Hanna Diamond is professor of French at Cardiff University and has published widely on the social and cultural history of France during the Second World War, including books on women and gender in France during the Second World War, and on the effects of the defeat of France in 1940. Her current research focuses on the Liberation and its aftermath with particular reference to photography and testimony. Her expertise on everyday life experiences of the period and memory of these events also informs her consultancy work with museums. Email: DiamondH@cardiff.ac.uk