Reims During 1914-1918

These postcards show the French city of Reims during the bombardments of the First World War. Reims was one of France’s most historic cities – for centuries, French kings had been crowned in Reims Cathedral. However, the city (in the North East of France) was a major focus of the fighting in the First World War, and was badly damaged. These photos were probably taken by a photographer from Reims who set out to record the suffering of the city during the bombardment.

The postcards themselves were all printed after the First World War, though it’s uncertain exactly when. They were printed by Eugene Le Deley, a large family of publishers based in Paris. They published a number of of propaganda postcards during the First World War (see an example here and here ).

At the beginning of the twentieth century, postcards were not just for people to post to their friends. In fact, none of the postcards shown here had ever been written on or sent through the post. Instead, at a time when few people had their own cameras, buying a postcard was a good way to remember a view or a place. Just as people show holiday photos today, people then would buy a collection of postcards and take them back to show their friends. During the First World War, soldiers might buy postcards of their camp, for example (if any were available), and keep them as a souvernir or send them back to their relatives. Postcards were cheap to produce, cheap to send, and immensely popular.

Postcards also became an excellent propaganda tool, just as campaigners print leaflets today. For example, in 1917, postcards were handed out by political groups who supported conscientious objectors showing the tough conditions under which they lived in British prisons.

The postcards shown here were probably intended as both as a historical document and, despite being printed after the war, as propaganda.

Grand Place – Ruines de la Bassee (Nord)

La Bassee – rue d’Estaire

Le fleau s’etend partout – la Rue des Capucins est la proie des flammes

Ruines de la Bassee – Rue de Lens

Rue Chanzy

Rue Chanzy – vue prise pendant l’incendie de Theatre

Ruines fumantes de la Rue Chanzy

La Brasserie du XXe siecle en flammes

Place Royale

Vue interieure du Grand Bazar

Rue Colbert, au fond, l’Hotel de Ville

Place des Marches, vue d’ensemble

Place des Marches, cote de la Glaneuse, entirement detruit

Place des Marches, la Rue de Tambour, la Maison des Musiciens se sont plus qu’un amas de ruines

Place du Parvis; au fond les ruines fumantes du Grand Theatre

Rue Brulee transformee en garde-meubles

La Cour du Chapitre

La Rue Carnot aussitot l’incendie

Mgr le Cardinal Lucon, Archeveque de Reims, accompagne de Mgr Neveux viennent de visiter les Hopitaux (fin Mars 1918)

Rue Carnot

Vue prise de al Rue du Couchant