Liberation of Paris

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Liberation of Paris
Part of Operation Overlord of World War II
Crowds of French patriots line the Champs Elysees-edit2.jpg
Parisians line the Champs Élysées as French 2e DB armor advances from the Arc de Triomphe toward Place de la Concorde on 26 August 1944
Date19–25 August 1944
Paris and outskirts, France

Allied victory

Commanders and leaders
Flag of Germany (1935-1945).svg Dietrich von Choltitz   White flag icon.svg
Units involved
Casualties and losses
  • French Resistance:
    • 1,600 dead [1]
  • Free French Forces:
    • 130 dead
    • 319 wounded [2]
  • United States: Unknown [3]
  • 3,200 dead
  • 12,800 prisoners [1]

The Liberation of Paris (also known as the Battle for Paris and Belgium; French : Libération de Paris) was a military battle that took place during World War II from 19 August 1944 until the German garrison surrendered the French capital on 25 August 1944. Paris had been ruled by Nazi Germany since the signing of the Second Compiègne Armistice on 22 June 1940, after which the Wehrmacht occupied northern and western France.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Paris Capital and most populous city of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.


The liberation began when the French Forces of the Interior—the military structure of the French Resistance—staged an uprising against the German garrison upon the approach of the US Third Army, led by General George Patton. On the night of 24 August, elements of General Philippe Leclerc's 2nd French Armored Division made their way into Paris and arrived at the Hôtel de Ville shortly before midnight. The next morning, 25 August, the bulk of the 2nd Armored Division and US 4th Infantry Division entered the city. Dietrich von Choltitz, commander of the German garrison and the military governor of Paris, surrendered to the French at the Hôtel Meurice, the newly established French headquarters. General Charles de Gaulle arrived to assume control of the city as head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic. It was a major turning point in controlling Nazi forces and leading the resistance into Germany.

French Forces of the Interior

The French Forces of the Interior refers to French resistance fighters in the later stages of World War II. Charles de Gaulle used it as a formal name for the resistance fighters. The change in designation of these groups to FFI occurred as France's status changed from that of an occupied nation to one of a nation being liberated by the Allied armies. As regions of France were liberated, the FFI were more formally organized into light infantry units and served as a valuable manpower addition to regular Free French forces. In this role, the FFI units manned less active areas of the front lines, allowing regular French army units to practice economy of force measures and mass their troops in decisive areas of the front. Finally, from October 1944 and with the greater part of France liberated, the FFI units were amalgamated into the French regular forces continuing the fight on the Western Front, thus ending the era of the French irregulars in World War II.

French Resistance collection of French resistance movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime

The French Resistance was the collection of French movements that fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and the collaborationist Vichy régime during the Second World War. Resistance cells were small groups of armed men and women, who, in addition to their guerrilla warfare activities, were also publishers of underground newspapers, providers of first-hand intelligence information, and maintainers of escape networks that helped Allied soldiers and airmen trapped behind enemy lines. The men and women of the Resistance came from all economic levels and political leanings of French society, including émigrés, academics, students, aristocrats, conservative Roman Catholics, and also citizens from the ranks of liberals, anarchists and communists.

2nd Armored Division (France) 1943-1999 combat division of the French Army

The French 2nd Armored Division, commanded by General Philippe Leclerc, fought during the final phases of World War II in the Western Front. The division was formed around a core of units that had fought in the North African campaign, and re-organized into a light armored division in 1943. The division embarked in April 1944 and shipped to various ports in Britain. On 29 July 1944, bound for France, the division embarked at Southampton. During combat in 1944, the division liberated Paris, defeated a Panzer brigade during the armored clashes in Lorraine, forced the Saverne Gap and liberated Strasbourg. After taking part in the Battle of the Colmar Pocket, the division was moved west and assaulted the German-held Atlantic port of Royan, before recrossing France in April 1945 and participating in the final fighting in southern Germany, even going first into Hitler's "Eagle's Nest". Deactivated after the war, the 2nd Division was again activated in the 1970s and served through 1999, when it was downsized to the now 2nd Armored Brigade.


Although the Allied strategy emphasized destroying German forces retreating towards the Rhine, the French Forces of the Interior (the armed force of the French Resistance), led by Henri Rol-Tanguy, staged an uprising in Paris.

Henri Rol-Tanguy member of the French resistance

Henri Rol-Tanguy was a French communist and a leader in the French Resistance during World War II. At his death The New York Times called him "one of France's most decorated Resistance heroes".

As the Falaise Pocket battle (12-21 August 1944), the final phase of Operation Overlord, was still going on, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, was not considering the liberation of Paris to be a primary objective. The goal of the U.S. and British Armed Forces was to destroy the German forces, and therefore end World War II in Europe, which would allow the Allies to concentrate all their efforts on the Pacific front. [4]

Falaise Pocket engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War

The Falaise Pocket or Battle of the Falaise Pocket was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War. A pocket was formed around Falaise, Calvados, in which the German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army were encircled by the Western Allies. The battle is also referred to as the Battle of the Falaise Gap, the Chambois Pocket, the Falaise-Chambois Pocket, the Argentan–Falaise Pocket or the Trun–Chambois Gap. The battle resulted in the destruction of most of Army Group B west of the Seine, which opened the way to Paris and the Franco-German border for the Allied armies on the Western Front.

Operation Overlord Successful invasion of Nazi-held northern Europe in World War II

Operation Overlord was the codename for the Battle of Normandy, the Allied operation that launched the successful invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II. The operation was launched on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings. A 1,200-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving more than 5,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June, and more than two million Allied troops were in France by the end of August.

Dwight D. Eisenhower 34th president of the United States

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front.

Thus, as the French Resistance began to raise against the Germans in Paris as of 15 August, not wanting to get the Allies involved in a battle for the liberation of Paris instead of pursuing the Germans rushing toward the Rhine, Eisenhower stated that it was too early for an assault on Paris. He was aware that Adolf Hitler had ordered the German military to completely destroy the city in the event of an Allied attack; Paris was considered to have too great a value, culturally and historically, to risk its destruction. Eisenhower was keen to avoid a drawn-out battle of attrition, such as the Battle of Stalingrad or the Siege of Leningrad. It was also estimated that, in the event of a siege, 4,000 short ton s (3,600  t ) of food per day, as well as significant amounts of building materials, manpower, and engineering skill, would be required to feed the population after the liberation of Paris. Basic utilities would have to be restored, and transportation systems rebuilt. All these supplies were needed in other areas of the war effort.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Battle of Stalingrad Major battle of World War II

The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia.

Siege of Leningrad 8 September 1941 – 27 January 1944 blockade of Leningrad by the Axis

The Siege of Leningrad was a prolonged military blockade undertaken from the south by the Army Group North of Nazi Germany against the Soviet city of Leningrad on the Eastern Front in World War II. The Finnish army invaded from the north, co-operating with the Germans until they had recaptured territory lost in the recent Winter War, but refused to make further approaches to the city.

De Gaulle was concerned that military rule by Allied forces would be implemented in France with the implementation of the Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories. This administration which had been planned by the American Chiefs of Staff had been approved by US President Franklin Roosevelt but had been opposed by Eisenhower. [5] Nevertheless General Charles de Gaulle of the French Army, upon seeing the French Resistance having risen up against the German occupiers, and unwilling to allow his countrymen to be slaughtered as was happening to the Polish Resistance in the Warsaw Uprising, petitioned for an immediate frontal assault. He threatened to detach the French 2nd Armored Division (2e DB) and order them to single-handedly attack Paris, bypassing the SHAEF chain of command; if Eisenhower delayed approval unduly.

Charles de Gaulle 18th President of the French Republic

Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French army officer and statesman who led the French Resistance against Nazi Germany in World War II and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 1944 to 1946 in order to reestablish democracy in France. In 1958, he came out of retirement when appointed President of the Council of Ministers by President René Coty. He was asked to rewrite the Constitution of France and founded the Fifth Republic after approval by referendum. He was elected President of the French Republic later that year, a position he was reelected to in 1965 and held until his resignation in 1969. He was the dominant figure of France during the early part of the Cold War era; his memory continues to influence French politics.

French Army Land warfare branch of Frances military

The French Army, officially the Ground Army to distinguish it from the French Air Force, Armée de l'Air or Air Army, is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces. It is responsible to the Government of France, along with the other four components of the Armed Forces. The current Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT) is General Jean-Pierre Bosser, a direct subordinate of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA). General Bosser is also responsible, in part, to the Ministry of the Armed Forces for organization, preparation, use of forces, as well as planning and programming, equipment and Army future acquisitions. For active service, Army units are placed under the authority of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA), who is responsible to the President of France for planning for, and use, of forces.

Warsaw Uprising major World War II operation by the Polish resistance Home Army

The Warsaw Uprising was a major World War II operation, in the summer of 1944, by the Polish underground resistance, led by the Home Army, to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. The uprising was timed to coincide with the retreat of the German forces from Poland ahead of the Soviet advance. While approaching the eastern suburbs of the city, the Red Army temporarily halted combat operations, enabling the Germans to regroup and defeat the Polish resistance and to raze the city in reprisal. The Uprising was fought for 63 days with little outside support. It was the single largest military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II.

General strike (15–19 August 1944)

A truck painted with the marks of the FFI and the V for Victory FFI voiture.jpg
A truck painted with the marks of the FFI and the V for Victory

On 15 August, in the northeastern suburb of Pantin, 1,654 men (among them 168 captured Allied airmen), and 546 women, all political prisoners, were sent to the concentration camps of Buchenwald (men) and Ravensbrück (women), on what was to be the last convoy to Germany. Pantin had been the area of Paris from which the Germans had entered the capital in June 1940. [6] [7]

That same day, employees of the Paris Métro, the Gendarmerie, and Police went on strike; postal workers followed the next day. They were soon joined by workers across the city, causing a general strike to break out on 18 August.

On 16 August, 35 young FFI members were betrayed by a certain Capitaine Serge, a double agent of the Gestapo. They had gone to a secret meeting near the Grande Cascade in the Bois de Boulogne and were gunned down there. [8]

On 17 August, concerned that the Germans were placing explosives at strategic points around the city, Pierre Taittinger, the chairman of the municipal council, met Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris. [9] When Choltitz told them that he intended to slow the Allied advance as much as possible, Taittinger and Swedish consul Raoul Nordling attempted to persuade Choltitz not to destroy Paris. [10]

Battle and Liberation

FFI uprising (19–23 August)

FFI uprising on 19 August. One skirmisher is wearing an Adrian helmet Battle for paris FFI1.png
FFI uprising on 19 August. One skirmisher is wearing an Adrian helmet

All over France, from the BBC and the Radiodiffusion nationale (the Free French broadcaster) the population knew of the Allies' advance toward Paris after the end of the battle of Normandy. RN had been in the hands of the Vichy propaganda minister, Philippe Henriot, since November 1942 until de Gaulle took it over in the Ordonnance (he signed in Algiers on 4 April 1944), [11]

On 19 August, continuing their retreat eastwards, columns of German vehicles moved down the Champs Élysées. Posters calling citizens to arm had previously been pasted on walls by FFI members. These posters called for a general mobilization of the Parisians, arguing that "the war continues"; they called on the Parisian police, the Republican Guard, the Gendarmerie, the Garde Mobile, the Groupe mobile de réserve (the police units replacing the army), and patriotic Frenchmen ("all men from 18 to 50 able to carry a weapon") to join "the struggle against the invader". Other posters assured that "victory is near" and promised "chastisement for the traitors", i.e. Vichy loyalists, and collaborators. The posters were signed by the "Parisian Committee of the Liberation", in agreement with the Provisional Government of the French Republic, and under the orders of "Regional Chief Colonel Rol" (Henri Rol-Tanguy), the commander of the French Forces of the Interior in the Île de France region. Then, the first skirmishes between the French and the German occupiers began. During the fighting, small mobile units of the Red Cross moved into the city to assist the French and Germans who were wounded. That same day in Pantin, a barge filled with mines was detonated by the Germans and destroyed the Great Windmills supplying flour to Paris. [7]

A captured tank fires against a sniper's position Battle for paris warfare scene.png
A captured tank fires against a sniper's position

On 20 August, as barricades began to appear, Resistance fighters organized themselves to sustain a siege. Trucks were positioned, trees cut down, and trenches were dug in the pavement to free paving stones for consolidating the barricades. These materials were transported by men, women, and children using wooden carts. Fuel trucks were attacked and captured. Civilian vehicles were commandeered, painted with camouflage, and marked with the FFI emblem. The Resistance used them to transport ammunition and orders from one barricade to another.[ citation needed ]

Skirmishes reached their peak on 22 August, when some German units tried to leave their fortifications. At 09:00 on 23 August, under Choltitz' orders, the Germans opened fire on the Grand Palais, an FFI stronghold, and German tanks fired at the barricades in the streets. Adolf Hitler gave the order to inflict maximum damage on the city. [12]

It is estimated that between 800 and 1,000 Resistance fighters were killed during the Battle for Paris, and another 1,500 were wounded. [13]

Entrance of French 2nd Armoured and US 4th Infantry Divisions (24–25 August)

Film "La Libération de Paris" shot by the French Resistance

On 24 August, delayed by combat and poor roads, Free French General Leclerc, commander of the 2nd French Armored Division which were equipped with American M4 Sherman tanks, halftracks and trucks disobeyed his direct superior, American corps commander Major General Leonard T. Gerow, and sent a vanguard (the colonne Dronne) to Paris, with the message that the entire division would be there the following day. The 9th Company of the Régiment de marche du Tchad which was nicknamed La Nueve (Spanish for "the nine") consisted of 160 men under French command, 146 of which were Spanish republicans. [14] They were commanded by French Captain Raymond Dronne, who became the second uniformed Allied officer to enter Paris after Amado Granell. [15]

At 9:22 p.m. on the night of August 24, 1944, the 9th Company broke into the center of Paris by the Porte d'Italie. Upon entering the town hall square, the half-track "Ebro" fired the first rounds at a large group of German fusiliers and machine guns. Civilians went out to the street and sang "La Marseillaise". The leader of the 9th Company, Raymond Dronne, went to the command of the German general Dietrich von Choltitz to request the surrender.

The 4th US Infantry Division commanded by Raymond Barton also entered through the Porte d'Italie in the early hours of the next day. The leading American regiments covered the right flank of the French 2nd Armoured and turned Eastward at the Place de la Bastille and made their way along Avenue Daumesnil heading towards the Bois de Vincennes. [16] In the afternoon the British 30 Assault Unit had entered the Porte d'Orléans and then searched buildings for vital intelligence, later capturing the former Headquarters of Admiral Karl Dönitz, the Château de la Muette. [17]

While awaiting the final capitulation, the 9th Company assaulted the Chamber of Deputies, the Hôtel Majestic and the Place de la Concorde. At 3:30 p.m. on August 25, the German garrison of Paris surrendered and the Allies received Von Choltilz as a prisoner, while other French units also entered the capital.

Near the end of the battle, Resistance groups brought Allied airmen and other troops hidden in suburban towns, such as Montlhéry, into central Paris. Here, they witnessed the ragged end of the capital's occupation, de Gaulle's triumphal arrival, and the claim of "One France" liberated by the Free French and the Resistance.

The 2nd Armored Division suffered 71 killed and 225 wounded. Material losses included 35 tanks, six self-propelled guns, and 111 vehicles, "a rather high ratio of losses for an armored division", according to historian Jacques Mordal. [18]

German surrender (25 August)

August 25 - Armoured vehicles of the 2nd Armored (Leclerc) Division fighting before the Palais Garnier. One German tank is going up in flames Lot 4568-2 (19583145252).jpg
August 25 - Armoured vehicles of the 2nd Armored (Leclerc) Division fighting before the Palais Garnier. One German tank is going up in flames

Despite repeated orders from Adolf Hitler that the French capital "must not fall into the enemy's hand except lying in complete debris", which was to be accomplished by bombing it and blowing up its bridges, [19] Choltitz, as commander of the German garrison and military governor of Paris, surrendered on 25 August at the Hôtel Meurice . He was then driven to the Paris Police Prefecture where he signed the official surrender, then to the Gare Montparnasse, Montparnasse train station, where General Leclerc had established his command post, to sign the surrender of the German troops in Paris. Choltitz was kept prisoner until April 1947. In his memoir Brennt Paris? ("Is Paris Burning?"), first published in 1950, Choltitz describes himself as the saviour of Paris.

In a 1964 interview, Choltitz claimed that he had refused to obey Hitler's orders: "If for the first time I had disobeyed, it was because I knew that Hitler was insane". According to a 2004 interview, which his son Timo gave to the French public channel France 2, Choltitz disobeyed Hitler and personally allowed the Allies to take the city safely and rapidly, preventing the French Resistance from engaging in urban warfare that would have destroyed parts of the city. [20]

De Gaulle's speech (25 August)

German soldiers at the Hotel Majestic, headquarters for the Militarbefehlshaber in Frankreich, the German High Military Command in France. They requested that they be made prisoner only by the military and surrendered to Battalion Chief Jacques Massu of the 2e DB. German officer POWs in Paris HD-SN-99-02952.JPG
German soldiers at the Hôtel Majestic , headquarters for the Militärbefehlshaber in Frankreich, the German High Military Command in France. They requested that they be made prisoner only by the military and surrendered to Battalion Chief Jacques Massu of the 2e DB.

On 25 August, the same day that the Germans surrendered, Charles de Gaulle, President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic, moved back into the War Ministry on the Rue Saint-Dominique. He made a rousing speech to the crowd from the Hôtel de Ville.

Why do you wish us to hide the emotion which seizes us all, men and women, who are here, at home, in Paris that stood up to liberate itself and that succeeded in doing this with its own hands?

No! We will not hide this deep and sacred emotion. These are minutes which go beyond each of our poor lives. Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the help of the French armies, with the support and the help of all France, of the France that fights, of the only France, of the real France, of the eternal France!

Since the enemy which held Paris has capitulated into our hands, France returns to Paris, to her home. She returns bloody, but quite resolute. She returns there enlightened by the immense lesson, but more certain than ever of her duties and of her rights.

I speak of her duties first, and I will sum them all up by saying that for now, it is a matter of the duties of war. The enemy is staggering, but he is not beaten yet. He remains on our soil.

It will not even be enough that we have, with the help of our dear and admirable Allies, chased him from our home for us to consider ourselves satisfied after what has happened. We want to enter his territory as is fitting, as victors.

This is why the French vanguard has entered Paris with guns blazing. This is why the great French army from Italy has landed in the south and is advancing rapidly up the Rhône valley. This is why our brave and dear Forces of the interior will arm themselves with modern weapons. It is for this revenge, this vengeance and justice, that we will keep fighting until the final day, until the day of total and complete victory.

This duty of war, all the men who are here and all those who hear us in France know that it demands national unity. We, who have lived the greatest hours of our History, we have nothing else to wish than to show ourselves, up to the end, worthy of France. Long live France!

Victory parades (26 and 29 August)

The day after de Gaulle's speech, Leclerc's French 2nd Armored Division paraded down the Champs-Élysées. A few German snipers were still active, and ones from rooftops in the Hôtel de Crillon area shot at the crowd while de Gaulle marched down the Champs Élysées and entered the Place de la Concorde.

On 29 August, the U.S. Army's 28th Infantry Division, which had assembled in the Bois de Boulogne the previous night, paraded 24-abreast up the Avenue Hoche to the Arc de Triomphe, then down the Champs Élysées. Joyous crowds greeted the Americans as the entire division, men and vehicles, marched through Paris "on its way to assigned attack positions northeast of the French capital." [21]

Food Crisis

Whilst the liberation was ongoing, it become apparent that food in Paris was getting scarcer by the day. The French rail network had largely been destroyed by allied bombing so getting food in had become a problem, especially since the Germans had stripped Paris of its resources for themselves. The allies realised the necessity to get Paris back on its feet and pushed a plan for food convoys to get through to the capital as soon as possible. In addition surrounding towns and villages were requested to supply as much of Paris as possible. The Civil Affairs of SHAEF authorised the import of up to 2,400 tons of food per day at the expense of the military effort. A British food convoy labelled 'Vivres Pour Paris' entered on August 29 and US supplies were flown in via Orleans Airport before being convoyed in. 500 tons were delivered a day by the British and another 500 tons by the Americans. Along with French civilians outside Paris bringing in indigenous resources, within ten days the food crisis was overcome. [22]


General Omar Bradley, Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Marie-Pierre Koenig and Air Marshal Arthur Tedder Eisenhower and Koenig in Paris, 1944.jpg
General Omar Bradley, Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Marie-Pierre Kœnig and Air Marshal Arthur Tedder

The uprising in Paris gave the newly established Free French government and its president, Charles de Gaulle, enough prestige and authority to establish a provisional French Republic. This replaced the fallen Vichy State (1940–1944), and united the politically divided French Resistance, drawing Gaullists, nationalists, communists and anarchists into a new "national unanimity" government. [23]

De Gaulle emphasized the role that the French had in the liberation and made it clear that Paris liberated itself rather than was freed by the Allies.[ dubious ] [23] De Gaulle drove the necessity for the French people to do their "duty of war" by advancing into the Benelux countries and Germany. He wanted France to be among "the victors", a belief that they escaped the fate of having a new constitution imposed by the AMGOT threat like those that would be established in Germany and Japan in 1945.

On 28 August, the FFI, called "the combatants without uniform", were incorporated into the New French Army (nouvelle armée française). The New French Army was fully equipped with U.S. equipment, such as uniforms, helmets, weapons and vehicles, and they continued to be used until after the Algerian War in the 1960s.[ citation needed ]

Although Paris was liberated, there was still heavy fighting elsewhere in France. Large portions of the country were still occupied after the successful Operation Dragoon in southern France, which extended into the south-western region of the Vosges Mountains from 15 August to 14 September 1944. Fighting went on in Alsace and Lorraine in eastern France during the last months of 1944 until the early months of 1945.

Several alleged Vichy loyalists involved in the Milice, a paramilitary militia established by Sturmbannführer Joseph Darnand that hunted the Resistance along with the Gestapo, were made prisoners in a post-liberation purge known as the Épuration légale (Legal purge). Some were executed without trial. Women accused of "horizontal collaboration" because of alleged sexual relationships with Germans were arrested and had their heads shaved, were publicly exhibited and some were allowed to be mauled by mobs.

On 17 August, the Germans took Pierre Laval to Belfort. On 20 August, under German military escort, Marshal Philippe Pétain was forcibly moved to Belfort, and to the Sigmaringen enclave in Germany on 7 September; there, 1,000 of his followers (including Louis-Ferdinand Céline) joined him. They established the government of Sigmaringen, challenging the legitimacy of de Gaulle's Provisional Government of the French Republic. As a sign of protest over his forced move, Pétain refused to take office, and was eventually replaced by Fernand de Brinon. The Vichy government in exile ended in April 1945.


60th and 70th anniversaries of the liberation

On 25 August 2004, two military parades reminiscent of the parades of 26 and 29 August 1944, one in commemoration of the 2nd Armored Division, the other of the US 4th Infantry Division, and featuring armoured vehicles from the era, were held on the 60th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris. Under the auspices of the Senate, a jazz concert and popular dancing took place in the Jardin du Luxembourg. [24] In the same event, homage was paid to the Spanish contribution - the first time in 60 years. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë laid a plaque on a wall along the River Seine at the Quai Henri IV in the presence of surviving Spanish veterans, Javier Rojo the President of the Senate of Spain and a delegation of Spanish politicians.

On 25 August 2014, plaques were placed on the Boulevard Saint-Michel and neighboring streets, in the vicinity of the Luxembourg Palace, seat of the French Senate, where combatants had been killed in August 1944. [25] There was dancing in the street in every neighborhood of the French capital and Place de la Bastille, as well as a Son et Lumière spectacle and dancing on the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville in the evening. [26]

Homage to the liberation martyrs

The wall of the 35 martyrs, Bois de Boulogne Battle for paris homagewall.png
The wall of the 35 martyrs, Bois de Boulogne

On 16 May 2007, following his election as President of the Fifth French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy organized an homage to the 35 French Resistance martyrs executed by the Germans on 16 August 1944. French historian Max Gallo narrated the events that took place in the woods of Bois de Boulogne, and a Parisian schoolgirl read 17-year-old French resistant Guy Môquet's final letter. During his speech, Sarkozy announced that this letter would be read in all French schools to remember the resistance spirit. [27] [28] After the speech, the chorale of the French Republican Guard closed the homage ceremony by singing the French Resistance's anthem Le Chant des Partisans ("The Partisans' song"). Following this occasion, the new President traveled to Berlin to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel, as a symbol of the Franco-German reconciliation.

La Libération de Paris

La Libération de Paris ("The Liberation of Paris"), whose original title was L'Insurrection Nationale inséparable de la Libération Nationale ("The National Insurrection inseparable from the National Liberation"), was a short 30 minute documentary film secretly shot from 16 to 27 August by the French Resistance. It was released in French theatres on 1 September.


Three-cent stamp picturing the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, with marching U.S. Army soldiers and an overflight by U.S. Army Air Force. Army issue 1945 U.S. stamp.1.jpg
Three-cent stamp picturing the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, with marching U.S. Army soldiers and an overflight by U.S. Army Air Force.

On 8 September 1945, the U.S. Post Office issued a three-cent stamp commemorating the liberation of Paris from the Germans. First day covers were illustrated with images of the Ludendorff Bridge illustrating its capture. Other countries have issued stamps commemorating the bridge's capture, including Nicaragua, Guyana, Micronesia, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. [29]



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Free France Government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War

Free France and its Free French Forces were the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War and its military forces, that continued to fight against the Axis powers as one of the Allies after the fall of France. Set up in London in June 1940, it organised and supported the Resistance in occupied France.

Military history of France during World War II

The military history of France during World War II covers three periods. From 1939 until 1940, which witnessed a war against Germany by the French Third Republic. The period from 1940 until 1945, which saw competition between Vichy France and the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle for control of the overseas empire. And 1944, witnessing the landings of the Allies in France, expelling the German Army and putting an end to the Vichy Regime.

Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque Marshal of France

Philippe François Marie Leclerc de Hauteclocque was a French general during the Second World War. He became Marshal of France posthumously in 1952, and is known in France simply as le maréchal Leclerc or just Leclerc.

Aimé Marie Antoine Lepercq was a French soldier, industrialist and political figure.

Provisional Government of the French Republic former country

The Provisional Government of the French Republic was an interim government of Free France between 1944 and 1946 following the liberation of continental France after Operations Overlord and Dragoon, and lasted until the establishment of the French Fourth Republic. Its establishment marked the official restoration and re-establishment of a provisional French Republic, assuring continuity with the defunct French Third Republic.

German military administration in occupied France during World War II Interim occupation authority established by Nazi Germany during World War II

The Military Administration in France was an interim occupation authority established by Nazi Germany during World War II to administer the occupied zone in areas of northern and western France. This so-called zone occupée was renamed zone nord in November 1942, when the previously unoccupied zone in the south known as zone libre was also occupied and renamed zone sud.

<i>Is Paris Burning?</i> (film) 1966 French-American film directed by René Clément

Is Paris Burning? is a 1966 French-American epic historical war film directed by René Clément, starring an ensemble cast, about the liberation of Paris in August 1944 by the French Resistance and the Free French Forces during World War II. The script was based on the book of the same title by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.

Maurice Kriegel-Valrimont was a militant communist who took part in the French Resistance during the Second World War, and a French politician. Along with General Leclerc and Henri Rol-Tanguy, he accepted the surrender of Dietrich von Choltitz at the Liberation of Paris.

French Committee of National Liberation

The French Committee of National Liberation was a provisional government of Free France formed by the French generals Henri Giraud and Charles de Gaulle to provide united leadership, organize and coordinate the campaign to liberate France from Nazi Germany during World War II. The committee was formed on 3 June 1943 and after a period of joint leadership, on November 9 it came under the chairmanship of Gen. de Gaulle. The committee directly challenged the legitimacy of the Vichy regime and unified all the French forces that fought against the Nazis and collaborators. The committee functioned as a provisional government for Algeria and the liberated parts of the colonial empire. Later it evolved into the Provisional Government of the French Republic, under the premiership of Charles de Gaulle.

Liberation of Strasbourg

The Liberation of Strasbourg constituted the dramatically symbolic high point for the rehabilitation of the honor of French armed forces as the Allies advanced across France toward Germany in 1944. Alsace, of which Strasbourg is the capital, had been the focus of French-German enmity since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, and General Charles de Gaulle insisted that only French forces should retake it. After the victory of Kufra, General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque and his troops swore an oath to fight until "our flag flies over the Cathedral of Strasbourg". The oath was fulfilled on 23 November 1944, when the 2nd French Armoured Division under Leclerc's command liberated Strasbourg.

Régiment de marche du Tchad

The Régiment de marche du Tchad is a mechanised unit of the French Army, belonging to the Troupes de Marine. It is part of the 2nd Armoured Brigade. Formerly garrisoned north of Noyon it was moved in July 2010 to Quartier Colonel Dio, Meyenheim, Alsace.

The following are articles about the topic of France during World War II:

The Battle of Marseille was an urban battle of World War II that took place August 21–28, 1944 and led to the liberation of Marseille by Free French forces under the command of General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. The groundwork was laid by the Allied invasion of southern France in Operation Dragoon on 15 August 1944 by the United States Seventh Army, with major support from the French First Army.

The Battle of Toulon (1944) was an urban battle of World War II in southern France that took place August 20–26, 1944 and led to the liberation of Toulon by Free French forces under the command of General Edgard de Larminat.

Paris in World War II Paris during World War II

Paris started mobilizing for war in September 1939, when Nazi Germany and their allied Soviet Union, according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Treaty invaded Poland, but the war seemed far away until May 10, 1940, when the Germans attacked France and quickly defeated the French army. The French government departed Paris on June 10, and the Germans occupied the city on June 14. During the Occupation, the French Government moved to Vichy, and Paris was governed by the German military and by French officials approved by the Germans.

La Nueve

The 9th Company of the Régiment de marche du Tchad, part of the 2nd Armored Division was nicknamed La Nueve. The company consisted of 160 men under French command, 146 of which were Spanish republicans, including many anarchists, as well as French soldiers. All had fought during the liberation of French North Africa, and later participated in the Liberation of France.

Is Paris Burning? Is a 1965 book by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre telling the story of the Liberation of Paris during the Second World War. The book examines the military and political actions surrounding the events of late August 1944 around Paris and how these events unfolded. The title is taken from the question reportedly asked by Adolf Hitler following his order to destroy the city rather than let it be re-captured by the Allies. The story was adapted into a feature film by the same name in 1966.


  1. 1 2 "Libération de Paris[Liberation of Paris]" Archived 19 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in French). (PDF format).
  2. "The Lost Evidence – Liberation of Paris". History.
  3. "Libération de Paris forces américaines" (in French).
  4. "Les Cahiers Multimédias: Il y a 60 ans : la Libération de Paris" Archived 14 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in French). Gérard Conreur/Mémorial du Maréchal Leclerc et de la Libération de Paris. Radio France. 6 July 2004.
  5. Charles L. Robertson, "When Roosevelt Planned to Govern France"
  6. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (PDF format). Pantin official website.
  7. 1 2 (PDF format). Pantin official website.
  8. "Allocution du Président de la République lors de la cérémonie d’hommage aux martyrs du Bois de Boulogne" (in French), President Nicolas Sarkozy, French Presidency official website, 16 May 2007.
  9. Taittinger, Pierre (1946). ... et Paris ne fut pas détruit (... And Paris Was Not Destroyed) (in French). L'Élan.
  10. Wird Paris vernichtet? (Will Paris Be Destroyed?) Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in German), a documentary by Michael Busse and Maria-Rosa Bobbi, Arte/WDR/France 3/TSR. August 2004.
  11. Journal Officiel des établissements français de l'Océanie, Titre V, Dispositions générales, p. 43, [ permanent dead link ] p.3
  12. Libération de Paris: Balises 1944, L'Humanité, 23 August 2004
  13. Thorton, Willis (1962). The Liberation of Paris – Google Books. Harcourt, Brace & World (via Google Books). Retrieved 30 August 2011.
  14. Gaspar, Celaya, Diego (15 December 2011). "Portrait d'oubliés. L'engagement des Espagnols dans les Forces françaises libres, 1940-1945". Revue historique des armées (in French) (265). ISSN   0035-3299.
  15. Rosbottom, Ronald C. "Who Liberated Paris in August 1944?". The Daily Beast.
  16. Argyle, Ray (2014). The Paris Game: Charles de Gaulle, the Liberation of Paris, and the Gamble that Won France. Dundurn. p. 223. ISBN   9781459722880.
  17. Rankin, Nicholas (2011). Ian Fleming's Commandos: The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit. Oxford University Press. pp. 259–263. ISBN   9780199782901.
  18. Mordal, Jacques (1964). La Bataille de France 1944–1945, Arthaud.
  19. "... Brennt Paris?". Retrieved 25 August 2008.
  20. "'Libération' porte parole des gauchistes" (in French). INA archives. Retrieved 25 August 2008.
  21. Stanton, Shelby L. (Captain U.S. Army, Retired), World War II Order of Battle, The encyclopedic reference to all U.S. Army ground force units from battalion through division, 1939–1945, Galahad Books, New York, 1991, p. 105. ISBN   0-88365-775-9.
  22. Coles, Harry Lewis; Weinberg, Albert Katz (1964). Civil Affairs: Soldiers Become Governors (PDF). United States Army in World War II: Special Studies. Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army. pp. 774–75. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  23. 1 2 1944–1946 : La Libération Archived 15 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in French). Charles de Gaulle foundation official website.
  24. "60ème Anniversaire de la Libération - La Libération de Paris - Sénat".
  25. "La prise du Sénat - La Libération de Paris".
  26. "Bal de célébration des 70 ans de la libération de Paris sur le Parvis de l'Hôtel de Ville".
  27. President Nicolas Sarkozy's speech (English).[ dead link ] French Presidency official website, 16 May 2007.
  28. Max Gallo's ceremony (video),[ dead link ] French Presidency official website, 16 May 2007.
  29. "Ponts et batailles de la seconde guerre mondiale" (in French). Retrieved 5 April 2015.


  1. The Milice was a Vichy division that fought in the liberation of Paris.

Coordinates: 48°52′25″N2°17′47″E / 48.8735°N 2.29642°E / 48.8735; 2.29642