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On This Day



On This Day… The Liberation Of Paris

Written by: George Chittenden : 28 May 2019

It was on this day, 25th August, back in 1944 when German forces surrendered in Paris and the city was liberated after more than four years of Nazi occupation. The French capital had been captured on June 14th, 1940 and a puppet French state was created with its capital at Vichy. The Germans had won the battle, but not the war. Meanwhile General Charles de Gaulle and the Free French kept fighting, and the Resistance sprang up in occupied France to resist Nazi and Vichy rule.

In late 1943 the French 2nd Armoured Division was formed in London, with the intention of leading the liberation of Paris during the Allied invasion of France. Adolf Hitler ordered Paris to be defended to the last man and even ordered the commander of his German garrison, General Dietrich von Choltitz, to blow up Paris’ landmarks and burn the city to the ground before its liberation. Thankfully Choltitz disobeyed that order, as he didn’t want to go down in history as the man who destroyed one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

General Charles de Gaulle

General Charles de Gaulle

As the 2nd Armoured Division cleared the western half of Paris, the U.S. 4th Infantry Division cleared the eastern half and most of the 20,000 German troops surrendered or fled. In the afternoon Choltitz was arrested in his headquarters and he signed a formal surrender. The following day General Charles de Gaulle led a liberation march down the Champs d’Elysees.

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