The Liberation of Paris

70 years ago this month: On 25th August 1944, the Battle for Paris was over and the city was free of its German occupiers. There are some excellent films in the archive showing the victory celebrations, the Allied advance through France, and life in Paris during the occupation, including footage of the French resistance.

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IT HAPPENED IN PARIS (1944)

 

Pathé Gazette cameraman Gaston Madru conceals a camera and films the streets of Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942. The footage he captured was shown to the public after the liberation of the city in this newsreel, released in cinemas on 18th September 1944.

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MEN OF THE MAQUIS (1944)

 

The story of the underground army of France with an exclusive personal narrative by the French actress Francoise Rosay. Released in cinemas on 10th April 1944.

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THE MAQUIS STRIKE (1944)

 

This film shows the French resistance uprising against a crumbling German occupation.

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FRENCH DOCTOR SPEAKS (1944)

 

A French doctor talks abut role of doctors during the German occupation. He talks about the treatment of Germans, problems with the Gestapo and medical progress in England and America. He speaks in English.

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GESTAPO TORTURE CHAMBER (1944)

 

French officials examine a Gestapo torture chamber and find chilling evidence of past tortures.

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PARIS DELIVERED (1944)

 

Dramatic scenes as allied troops liberate the city of Paris. The cameraman was Kenneth Gordon and the newsreel features an official broadcaster of the French delegation in London who gives his personal viewpoint of the liberation. Released in cinemas on 31st August 1944.

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COLLABORATOR’S HAIR CUT (1945)

 

This silent footage shows what was in store for Nazi collaborators after the liberation of France. French women have their heads shaved by the Maquis as punishment for cooperating with the German occupiers.

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Franz Reichelt Day! February 4th – 100th Anniversary of Eiffel Tower “Death Jump”

Today is the 100th anniversary of Franz Reichelt’s attempt to fly in Paris on the 4th February 1912. His choice of venue to demonstrate his solo flying contraption? The Eiffel Tower. The results? Not good.

British Pathé houses the shocking video of Franz Reichelt’s “Death Jump”. You can watch the only existing High Definition version that is viewable to the public for free on the British Pathé YouTube channel here:

The original canister notes are also a fascinating read and can be seen on our archive website here:

Notes and information regarding the Franz Reichelt Death Jump.

The video was never actually issued by British Pathé, perhaps due to its shocking nature as the video shows the exact second that Franz Reichelt dies as he plummets terrifyingly to his death, and the aftermath scene is rather shocking too as Parisien press members rush forward to measure the depth of the hole left by Franz Reichelt’s body.

However today this video is one of the most viewed British Pathé videos. A plethora of low-quality stolen versions appear on YouTube, but British Pathé are proud to have the best quality version of the reel on display.

http://www.britishpathe.com

Footage discovered of The Red Woman of Paris – the scandalous Madame Steinheil.

Marguerite Steinheil and Baron Abinger's wedding day, 1917
Every now and again a seemingly innocuous clip is brought to our attention when someone discovers there is more to it than meets the eye. A friend of Pathé, Commander Tony Bullock, who has been kindly researching naval footage within our archive, came across a fairly bland 30 second clip of a 1917 naval wedding. There is not much information attached to the footage apart from one name – Madame Steinheil. 

Boring? Yes perhaps but not until Commander Bullock looked into who this Madame Steinheil was, did he realise that this footage is of a notorious French woman with a scandalous reputation and sensational complex history who was dubbed the Red Woman of Paris. She was most famous for her association with the death of the French President Félix Faure and later she was implicated in the murders of her own husband and stepmother. She was quite possibly the most talked about woman in France at the turn of the 20th century.  

The French President Felix Faure

Marguerite Steinheil, (née Japy ) later known as  Lady Abinger and Mme de Serignac was born in to a wealthy family and after her marriage to a successful painter, Adolphe Steinheil, she immersed herself in Parisian high society and became extremely well connected to influential men within political and social circles, even counting the King of Cambodia as an admirer. Marguerite first met the French President in 1897 when her husband was awarded a contract.  Her husband’s frequent meetings with the President meant Marguerite became well acquainted with Faure and soon she became his mistress, often paying him visits in the private residence of the Palais de l’Élysée.

On 16 February 1899, Marguerite made one of her illicit calls to the palace. Many rumours and much speculation surrounded the events but it was widely reported that when servants were called to the boudoir, Steinheil was adjusting her clothing, her hair was tousled and the President lay dead from a seizure – allegedly brought on by a passionate session. Mme Steinheil was quickly ushered out the back door.

The French Femme Fatale

The embarrassment and shame that surely ensued after her connection with the death of the President did not, however, deter her having affairs with other men; in fact, she became the mistress of many more prominent men. Later doctors would go on to describe her as, “a highly neurotic subject with a pronounced tendency to hysteria, she seems to have exercised a curious spell upon all the men with whom she came in contact”. Her je ne sais quoi and femme fatale charms might explain why there were reports that men including the President even entrusted her with secret documents and manuscripts.

Scandal was not to stop there. On May 31 1908, Marguerite’s husband and stepmother were found dead having been gagged, bound and strangled with a cord. Marguerite was also found gagged and bound to the bed but notably unharmed.  Although she told police that there had been four intruders dressed in long black robes, she was a suspect from the start. The police initially did not have the evidence to prosecute but her stories began to unravel when she went on to deliberately frame her valet de chambre by planting a piece of evidence in his room. When her plot was unveiled she subsequently accused her housekeeper’s son of committing the murders. She was arrested later in the year and charged on complicity in the double murder.

Steinheil explains herself in court

The events surrounding the murder and the trial caused a feeding frenzy in Paris and there was a gender divided opinion.  And although the court had called her stories a “tissue of lies”, the rather theatrical trial climaxed with Mme Steinheil’s unexpected acquittal. After her narrow escape from the guillotine, Steinheil moved to England and in 1917 she married the 6th Baron Abinger, Robert Brooke Campbell Scarlett who served in the Royal Navy.

And so here you have it, British Pathé captured this newly married couple leaving the church on their wedding day. At first it seemed a fairly unexciting clip except now we know that this is footage of a woman embroiled in two of the biggest scandals of her time.

Behind every face, there is a story

Watch the short clip HERE.

Videos of Bastille Day: Archive Footage of the French Revolution Commemorated

Every year Paris puts on a grand military parade to signify July 14th, the day that the Bastille prison was stormed, a symbol and defining moment of the French Revolution. For military and French history enthusiasts, you’ll be thrilled to know that British Pathe have dozens of videos of Bastille Day across the 20th century. Take a look at these reels:

Bastille Day 1916http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=75479

Bastille Day 1932http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=49815

Bastille Day 1937http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=66773

Bastille Day 1938http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=18989

Bastille Day 1942http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=22993

Bastille Day 1943http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=12213

Bastille Day 1947http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=79777

Bastille Day 1948http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=51675

Bastille Day 1952http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=62051

Bastille Day 1955http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=63719

Bastille Day 1956http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=65971

Bastille Day 1958http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=66963

Bastille Day 1959http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=35911

Bastille Day 1961http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=67973

Bastille Day 1962http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=69105

Bastille Day 1963http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=84447

Bastille Day 1966http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=49645

Bastille Day 1968 http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=45353

France discover British Pathe

“Actualités de L’Histoire”

It’s official. France have discovered the British Pathé film archive! Over the last few days an increasing amount of French websites and blogs have started popping up with articles about clips from www.britishpathe.com

We’re not entirely sure what they’re writing about us, but we assume it’s all good. One French blogger wrote this:

“De 1910 à 1970, 3500 heures d’histoire filmée sur quelques 90 000 sujets sont visibles en intégralité sur ce site et accessibles à travers un moteur de recherche en mode simple ou expert.  Par exemple, visionner le couronnement de Georges V le 22 juin 1911 et le Grand Durbar de Delhi qui s’ensuivit en décembre 1911 avec la présentation de Georges V comme empereur des Indes…”

If you search ‘FRANCE’ as a keyword in the British Pathé archive 5688 films show up. See for yourself here – old film footage of France.