Collaboration through work

Collaboration through work

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Title: By working in Germany, you will be the Ambassador of French quality.

Author : CASTEL Eric (1915 - 1997)

Creation date : 1943

Date shown: 1943

Dimensions: Height 56 ​​- Width 38

Technique and other indications: Colored lithograph, paper Printed in Paris by Bedos et CieVisée by ORAFF, an organization created by the German authorities in 1941 in Paris.

Storage location: Army Museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

Picture reference: 06-515098 / Vdb 110

By working in Germany, you will be the Ambassador of French quality.

© Paris - Army Museum, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Laurent Sully-Jaulmes

Publication date: February 2012

Historical context

Promote work in Germany

Since 1940, and throughout the war, many foreign volunteers have chosen to go to work in Germany, whether by ideology or, more often, for salaries or even the release of close prisoners. Indeed, as a result of the army's ever-increasing human needs, mines, industry and agriculture are lacking the resources to support the war effort.

Privileged target of this research, the France of Vichy first organized the "succession" (sending workers to Germany to "relieve" prisoners), then promulgated various requisition laws before establishing the S.T.O. and 200,000 volunteers, France then became one of the main contributors to the Nazi war effort.

Various information campaigns then tried to promote the work in Germany, deliberately maintaining the confusion between the S.T.O. Produced by Eric Castel in 1943, the poster "By working in Germany, you will be the French Quality Ambassador" seems to be part of such a policy.

Image Analysis

Modern traits

With a rather original iconography, the poster "By working in Germany, you will be the Ambassador of French quality" offers a rather remarkable composition and line. Unlike the imagery most often favored by Vichy, the working-class (and not ruralist) theme seems to have allowed for a certain modernism and a certain daring.

Vigorous even athletic, a worker in the prime of life stands in front of the viewer. Dressed in his signature overalls, he stands erect and erect, looking determined, a mass in his right hand. The shapes are rather schematic (see the legs and the muscles of the arms), the play of shadows (see the face) and the clear line accentuating the impression of symbolic strength, seriousness and performance. Behind him, parts (anvil, cogwheel) still evoke the machine and labor.

In the background, an industrial landscape (chimneys and factory buildings) emerges from dawn and draws elegant dark profiles in the ocher of the rising sun. On the horizon appears the Eiffel Tower, symbol of the active and modern city that is Paris.

Composed on three lines, the message which gives its title to the poster uses the colors of the national flag.


Workers' and patriotic pride

A theme quite foreign to the ideology of the National Revolution, the world and workers' work are exalted here for propaganda purposes. With a clearly stated specificity, the poster "By working in Germany, you will be the Ambassador of French quality" takes up some of the codes and innovations of the representation of the urban and industrial world in progress in the 1930s, to reinterpret them. .

Work and worker are classically highlighted here. The dignity, health and cleanliness of the worker suggest his moral quality, while his attributes (clothing, tools and machines) evoke both the diversity of trades (all types of industrial workers are required) and the plurality of "French quality". Courageous, vigorous and early-morning, the national worker can easily stand the comparison with other workers in Europe (especially those in Germany, a much more industrialized country, whose victory also demonstrates excellence). Collaboration imposed or at least justified by defeat gives French workers the opportunity to serve their country if they export their skills, and France could regain some pride in them.

Symbolic and general, this worker is indeed very French. The industrial landscape (which could be the same elsewhere) is as if entirely invested with the unique but effective sign of "Frenchness": the Eiffel Tower. Likewise, the colors of the flag emphasize the paradoxically patriotic content of the poster's message and appeal.

  • propaganda
  • Vichy regime
  • War of 39-45
  • Occupation
  • collaboration
  • 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.BORDEAUX, Henri, Henry de Bournazel, The Red Cavalier or The Moroccan Epic, Paris, Plon, 1935.SIRINELLI (dir.), Jean-François, French rights: from the Revolution to the present day, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Folio History", 1992. PAXTON, Robert, The France of Vichy, 1940-44, Paris, Editions du Seuil, 1973.ROSSIGNOL Dominique, History of propaganda in France from 1940 to 1944, Paris, PUF, 1991.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "Collaboration through work"

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