Capital that is faithful to itself and to France, which has
manifested – under enemy occupation and oppression,
and in spite of those who wanted to abandon or who were traitors
– a solid resolution to fight and to win. With the courage
it has shown in the presence of the invader and the irrepressible
energy with which it handled extremely difficult challenges,
the Capital deserves to be recognized as an example for the
whole Nation. On August 19th, combining its forces with those
of the Allied and French armies, the City stood up to chase
the enemy away with a series of glorious combats that begun
in the heart of Paris and that quickly spread out to other
points in the City. In spite of heavy losses suffered by the
Interior French Forces, Paris managed to free itself by its
own means. And then, united with the vanguard of the French
Army come to its aid, on August 25th, it drove the Germans
into a corner and forced them to capitulate."
(Paris, named Companion of the
Liberation by decree on 24 March 1945)
June 14th, 1940, the German troops, in deathly silence, march down
the Avenue of the Champs-Élysées claiming victory.
August the first clandestine publication - the "Conseils
à l'occupé" by Jean Texcier - appeared, in reaction to
the occupation. The first massive public show of resistance was
the student protest of November 11th, 1940, at the Place de l'Etoile.
The Germans shot at the crowd and approximately one hundred protesters
were arrested. Soon thereafter, the first notices of execution of
resistance fighters were posted on the walls of the capital, such
as the notice of the execution of Jacques Bonsergent, shot on December
few days earlier, the first issue of "Résistance"
had been published clandestinely by the resistance group at the
Museum of Mankind, headed by Boris Vildé and Anatole Lewitsky -
and the first issues of "Valmy" - Around that time
the O.C.M. (the Civilian and Military Organization) movement was
in early 1941, the group at the Museum of Mankind was dismantled.
Repression became more intense, as did the determination of the
Resistance movement in Paris. On July 14th, a patriotic demonstration
at Place de la République led to the arrest of 1,500 people. On
August 21st, Pierre-Félix Georges, alias Fabien, shot an officer
called Moser at Metro Barbès. A week later, in response to this,
the Germans executed 18 Resistance workers at Mont Valerien, including
Lieutenant d'Estienne d'Orves
December of 1941, the curfew in Paris was set at 6 p.m., the prisons
filled up with hostages and patriots. On the 15th, Gabriel Péri
1942, living conditions in Paris worsened. In February the first
Jews rounded up in Paris and suburbs were deported to Auschwitz.
At the same time, the Royal Air Force bombed the Renault factories
in Boulogne-Billancourt and 500 people were killed. Every day there
were more attacks by Resistance fighters, followed by the execution
of hostages. The "5 from Lycée Buffon (a high school)",
members of the Franc Tireur (irregulars) and French Partisan Movement,
who were the perpetrators of two attacks on German officers, were
arrested by the French police in June of 1942. They handed them
over to the invaders, who sentenced them to death and executed them
a year later.
16th and 17th of July, 1942, the persecution of Jews was at its
peak when the roundup of Jews at the "Vel’ d’Hiv’"
by the French police took place. 12,884 Jews were arrested in their
homes, rounded up at the Vélodrome d’Hiver (the Winter Velodrome)
to be deported to death camps in Poland.
1943, the Resistance organization made progress thanks to the assignments
of agents of the Free French Movement - including Pierre
Brossolette and colonel Passy - who
came from London to establish closer contact between the interior
and exterior Resistance workers. In Paris also, at rue du Four,
on May 27th of 1943, the National Council of the Resistance met
for the first time, presided by Jean Moulin. The Council was made
up of representatives from the largest Resistance movements from
both zones, politicians and unionists, and demonstrated that the
French Resistance was becoming more united and cohesive.
bombing continued throughout 1943 and the population gradually saw
the day of its liberation approaching. Violent attacks against the
invader became more and more frequent. In April, a group attacked
an enemy squad with grenades. In May, near Odéon, a building occupied
by the Germans was attacked. In June, a colonel of the Wehrmacht
was killed on Boulevard des Italiens. In July, a group of S.S. was
attacked with grenades on the Champs-Elysées. In September, S.S.
agent Julius Ritter, in charge of sending 500,000 French citizens
to Germany to Forced Labor camps, was executed at the corner of
of the capital became more intense in early 1944. The repression
continued and in February the FTP-MOI of the "Manouchian Group"
were executed. On March 22nd, Pierre Brossolette committed suicide
at Gestapo headquarters on Avenue Foch.
soon afterwards, the Interior French Forces of Ile-de-France, which
included the armed forces of the various movements, were created
and commanded by Colonel Rol-Tanguy.
summer, living conditions had worsened considerably for Parisians:
food shortage, child mortality, gas and power cut off everywhere
most of the time and a growing unemployment rate.
As the Allied forces advanced in Normandy,
uprisings began. On August 10th, strikes began in the Paris administrations
(PTT, Gendarmerie, Police). The morning of August 18th, a general
strike broke out, factories were taken over and some of the prisoners
at the Prison de la Santé were released. The same day, Colonel Rol-Tanguy,
head of the Ile-de-France FFI, with the approval of the Paris Committee
for Liberation, ordered the general mobilization of all Parisians.
The following morning barricades appeared in all Paris districts.
Barricades in insurgent Paris
police offices started to close up shop one after another, without
neglecting to hastily execute prisoners and resistance workers one
last time. They also made sure to send off a few last trains full
of deportees to the various camps. On August 20th, staff headquarters
of the FFI was installed in its underground command base under the
Place Denfert-Rochereau, under the Lion of Belfort. The same day,
Police Headquarters were taken over, and skirmishes between French
and German forces were widespread in the city and the suburbs, which
were gradually taken over by the insurgents. In addition to this,
most of the General Secretaries appointed by Alexandre Parodi, the
general delegate of the Provisional Government of the French Republic,
took possession of their respective Ministries. At the same time,
Leclerc was near Argentan, while General De
returned from Canada two days earlier, met with General Eisenhower
at Le Mans and
convinced him to let the 2nd Armored Division march into Paris.
August 21st, the once clandestine newspapers were sold publicly
for the first time, while the Germans strengthened their positions,
holding on firmly to the Tuileries, Rivoli, the Quays, the Ecole
Militaire, the barracks of Prince Eugene in Place de la République
and the Luxemburg Gardens area. However, the heart of Paris, the
city and City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) were in the hands of the French
forces. The next day, General Bradley gave Leclerc the order to
lead his Division into the capital, where a fear of total destruction
reigned, as Hitler had given the order to General von Choltitz (a
German military commander). The latter was convinced by Swedish
Consul Raoul Nordling to spare Paris, and negotiated a short truce
with him that was rejected by the Resistance fighters.
the capital at this point, everyone knew that the 2nd Armored Division
and the Allies were at the edge of the city "Hold tight. We’re
coming" was the message that Leclerc sent out to the FFI holding
onto Police Headquarters on August 24th. At around 7 p.m. Leclerc
was at the Croix-de-Berny and designated the tank company of Captain
take the vanguard position. It was exactly 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on the
great clock) when the armored column stopped in the square of the
Hôtel de Ville, where staff headquarters of the National Resistance
Council and the Paris Committee for Liberation were gathered. Dronne
was greeted by Georges Bidault, Joseph
Laniel, Georges Marrane, Daniel Meyer and many more. This was an
extremely moving encounter for the Free France fighters and Parisian
Resistance fighters. Church bells were now ready to announce the
arrival of the Allies to the city.
next day, General Leclerc, accompanied by the National Military
Delegate, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, entered
the capital where soon afterwards part of the 2nd Armored Division
took the Hôtel Meurice by storm, headquarters of the German military
command. Von Choltitz surrendered, was taken to Police Headquarters
where he, Leclerc and Rol-Tanguy signed the agreement on the surrender
of German troops. In the afternoon, De Gaulle, accompanied by a
modest procession, entered Paris amidst a wildly cheering crowd,
went to Leclerc’s headquarters at Montparnasse where he was
informed of the surrender.
evening of August 25th, after having gone to the Ministry of War
on rue Saint-Dominique, chosen as Government Presidency headquarters,
and having inspected Paris Police, General De Gaulle went to the
Hôtel de Ville amidst the indescribably overjoyed crowd, where the
Paris Committee for Liberation and the National Resistance Council
awaited him. There, De Gaulle paid tribute to France’s capital
with a speech full of emotion :
has been gravely offended! Paris has been broken down! Paris has
been made a martyr! But now Paris is free, Paris has freed itself;
freed by its people, aided by the French armies, and the support
and cooperation of the entire Nation – a France that fights
for its cause, France one and only, the true France, eternal France".
battle of Paris was practically over when the last few points held
by the enemy were falling. 3,500 Germans surrendered to the French
forces of the Interior and to the soldiers of the 2nd Armored Division.
The free world would now celebrate this liberation, a glimpse at
the now unavoidable demise of Nazi Germany.
On August 26th, the head of the Provisional
Government, surrounded by the members of the National Resistance
Council, the Paris Committee for Liberation, Generals Juin,
Koenig, Valin and Leclerc, Admiral Thierry d'Argenlieu,
Jacques Chaban-Delmas and Magistrates Flouret
and Luizet, paraded down the Champs-Élysées amidst an
incredible popular fervor.
The parade down the Champs-Elysées, August
Place de la Concorde, the General got into a car that took him to
the Hôtel de Ville. Afterwards, upon arriving at the esplanade in
front of Notre Dame Cathedral, a shooting spree broke out, causing
a situation of general panic in the square. Inside the Cathedral
shooting broke out again, causing the congregation to crouch down
on the floor. General De Gaulle calmly walked over to the center
of the cathedral, in the crossing of the transept, while the Magnificat
was still being pronounced. Shortening the ceremony, De Gaulle then
returned to Government Presidency headquarters at rue Saint-Dominique.
On March 24th, 1945, Paris was named Companion
of the Liberation.
The City of Paris is awarded the Cross of
Upon presenting the Cross of the Liberation
to the City of Paris on April 2nd, 1945, General De Gaulle pronounced
these words, "Upon the Liberation of Paris, the city lacked
absolutely nothing to make it worthy of France".
Compagnon of the Liberation Communities
Last updated: 29 November 2001
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