I didn’t think I would like Paris very much. The people who are natives have a reputation for not liking Americans (or anybody else for that matter). So my first trip there for business was actually a reluctant visit. By the third time I went over however, I made sure to allow enough time to actually visit the city and turn a blind eye to the attitudes that still are pretty strong.
The buildings, the architecture, the art work and everything you see are testaments to some of the greatest things man has achieved. Its hard to believe that it almost wasn’t there. As any amateur student of history knows, Paris was slated for destruction by Hitler during the later days of World War 2. It is still controversial how the city was actually saved but the known facts indicate that it was the will of the people involved that made a tremendous difference.
The Liberation of Paris (also known as the Battle for Paris) took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German garrison on 25 August. The Liberation of Paris started with an uprising by the French Resistance against the German garrison. On 24 August, the French Forces of the Interior (Forces françaises de l’intérieur, FFI) received reinforcements from the Free French Army of Liberation and from the U.S. Third Army under General Patton. The capital region of France had been governed by Nazi Germany since the signing of the Second Compiègne Armistice in June 1940, when the German Army occupied northern and westernmost France, and when the puppet regime of Vichy France was established in the town of Vichy in central France.
This battle marked the liberation of Paris and the exile of the Vichy government to Sigmaringen in Germany. However, there was still much heavy fighting to be done before France was liberated, including the campaign in southern France during August-September (in Provence and extending into the southwestern region of the Vosges Mountains), along the German-held seaports of western France (such as at Brest and Dunkirk), in Alsace and Lorraine in eastern France, and in northeastern France, such as along the Rhine and Moder Rivers. The German Army and SS fought doggedly in these areas for the remainder of 1944 and into 1945.
Over the weekend, I found a cache of old pamphlets, pictures and post cards that Debbie’s father had collected while he was over there. He was a member of the Thunderbolt Division and fought all the way from Normandy to Germany to help liberate Europe. Most of the cards and some information are now posted on my Pinterest board.
The instructions to the soldiers after the liberation of Paris are very enlightening. If you get a chance today, it might be worth a visit.
Vive le France