This month marks the 45th anniversary of the May 1968 protests in Paris. My father was living in Paris’s Latin Quarter at the time. He had finished his studies at la Sorbonne, was working as an English teacher at Air France and still living in his student hotel. “L’hotel de la Loire” on Rue Du Sommerard ended up being at the crossroads of most of the action during the month long protests.
Armed with a 35mm rangefinder “Rank Mamiya” w / f2.8 40mm lens and rolls of Kodak ‘Safety film’ (older name of Tri x pan) which he developed at home, he captured these images. Some of the pictures were scanned from a contact sheet as the negatives mysteriously vanished from a local lab. My father was eager to get proof prints done of the negatives, which featured some violent scenes of clashes; he never got them back.
The CRS, Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (English: Republican Security Companies). This riot police force has been much despised by generations of protestors and students; a popular slogan, coined in May 1968 and still used when I was a student in the 1990s in Paris was “CRS, SS!”, likening them to the Nazi SS.
Above: The leaders of the student movement Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Jacques Sauvageot, Alain Geismar and Alain Krivine were gathering support to organize student action. My father took the pictures with flash and was promptly thrown out, only holding on to the roll of film by finally making the students understand that he was not CRS spy.
Wikipedia page on May 68
Collection of May 1968 posters, featuring the CRS, SS poster and many others such as the famous slogan, ‘Sous les paves, la plage” (under the pave-stones, lies the beach)
Archive footage of May 68: