Fonds Sipho

The Sipho archives

  • Access and consultation : The collection can be consulted in digital form on the computers of the reading room of via Pallas. Via Pallas en effectuant une recherche par mots clés, mots du titre ou dans tout (combinaison) dans l’interface de recherche de Pallas et en cliquant sur l’icône « Visualiser document(s) » une fois que vous vous trouvez dans la fiche descriptive du dossier thématique qui vous intéresse. Pour des questions de droits d’auteur et de protection de la vie privée, certaines photos numérisées ne sont pas directement consultables en ligne. Elles ne le sont pas non plus en salle de lecture. Une demande spécifique doit être envoyée à
  • Reproduction :  The content of the collection may not be freely reproduced in the reading room. For any reproduction request by the CegeSoma teams, practical information is available here.
  • Research tools : 1) Inventory, 2) List by country

Collection description :

Correspondance et autres documents de l'agence de photos Service International Photographique SIPHO

The archives of the Sipho press agency (International Photographic Service) have been in CegeSoma’s possession since 1972. These archives come from evidence requisitioned by the Military Prosecutor's Office in the context of trials for acts of collaboration in the post-war years. They consist of about 250,000 photographs and several meters of paper archives.  All the photos are now available in digital form via CegeSoma's online catalogue.

Sipho before 1940

The public limited company Sipho was founded in 1933 by S. de Brouwer, B. Kopillof, L. Itin and A. Barenbeim. In 1938, it was sold by the Jewish group Glikman-Kopillof to the Belgian group Vinckenbosch-Buisseret.

Its business operations included the sale of photographs from foreign agencies to the Belgian press, the production on request of photographic reports and the commissioning of laboratory work. The staff was initially very small and employed on a temporary basis, but this changed in 1938 thanks to its director, L. Timmermans, who began to hire more staff.

Even before the Second World War, relations with Berlin were not only commercial. In Belgium and abroad, Sipho was already perceived as a "propaganda agent" for the Reich and, in 1939, its membership application for the Belgian Press Association for Reporters and Photographers was refused.

Sipho at the service of the occupier

In May 1940, following the German invasion, the agency's activities were suspended. But quickly, Propaganda Abteilung (PA) granted a commercial monopoly to three Belgian news agencies: Graphopress (headed by Beecken), Sado and Sipho. The latter became the largest company in Brussels producing up-to-date images and supplying the press with iconographic material.

In September 1940, Timmermans travelled to Berlin at the request of the PA and met Dr. Hermann, from the Atlantik agency, who bought Sipho in 1943. Timmermans remained the company’s director but the shareholders were replaced. Staff members and photographers, who had to be members of the Illustrated Press Association, were selected by the PA, namely J. Crommelynk, D. Alexis, J. Van Bruyssel, J. Vriens, E. Cluytens, L. Leblois, and L. Vergauwen. Sipho also employed independent photographers based abroad.

From 1940 to 1944, the agency produced photographs according to current events or PA orders, disseminated images to the press, distributed Agfa's limited photographic products, managed and enriched its own photographic collection and provided a subscription service for current photographs. 

The judgment after the end of the war

In 1946, the Brussels War Council convicted Timmermans and most of the photographers who had worked for Sipho for collaboration and confiscated the agency's equipment and archives. These were first entrusted to the Kingdom's General Archives before being transferred to CegeSoma.

The photographic archives of Sipho

CegeSoma has kept the original classification of the Sipho archives by country, mainly Belgium, Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain, Russia, Great Britain and Japan. In addition to the photos that directly concern the Second World War, the Sipho collection also contains many photos of daily life in the 1930s and 1940s.

For more information :

  • RENCHON, Céline, SIPHO 1940-1944, une agence de photographie au service de la propagande nazie en Belgique, ULB, année académique 1999/2000.