Paris (AFP) – Secondary Event of World War II from a military point of view, but highly symbolic politically, the liberation of Paris August 25, 1944 was played in a few hours with the arrival of the 2nd DB after a week lifting
Battles streets FFI poorly armed and ragged.; tanks of the Leclerc division stormed by drunken Parisian joy; de Gaulle down the Champs-Elysées supported by a cheering crowd: these images are “etched in the collective memory,” writes Jean-François Muracciole in “The liberation of Paris, 19-26 August 1944″ (Tallandier, 2013) <. / p>
The fighting August 25 opposed two Allied divisions (30,000 men) – the 2nd Armored Division and the 4th American Infantry Division – a German division (20,000 men) made of odds and ends
Dwight Eisenhower had agreed in late 1943 to the capture of the capital but heavy fighting in Normandy and logistical difficulties are definitely the Allied Commander in Europe. Charles de Gaulle, taking Paris by a French unit would strengthen its force when the allies and political authority in France, including the powerful Communist Party.
“The Eisenhower priority is to go faster towards the ports of northern Europe, bypassing Paris since the middle of August the Allies have only two operational ports (Arromanches and Cherbourg) who struggle to feed the 36 divisions allies engaged ” told AFP historian Christine Levisse-Touze
-. general strike –
In his memoirs, the American General Omar Bradley, commander of the First Army Group in Normandy , wrote: “Tactically Paris had no meaning, it was an ink spot on the map should be avoided”
The Allies do not want to engage in more. Battle of expensive streets in lives and destruction. At the same time, the Warsaw Uprising will be more than 200,000 dead, mostly civilians.
The reluctance of the Allies will fall with the uprising in the capital. From 10 August, strikes are triggered at the initiative of the CGT and the PCF. 13, the Paris police, who attended the roundup of Jews there a few weeks, joined the movement.
On 18 August, a general strike was called. The next day at dawn, several thousand police officers involved police headquarters. The only organized resistance switches in calling for insurrection force.
The first barricades went up, ambushes mounted against the few German soldiers who venture into the streets. Gradually official buildings fall into the hands of the Parisian resistance controlled by the Communist Henri Rol-Tanguy
-. Dronne Column –
In the evening of the 19th, a truce was organized between General Dietrich von Choltitz and resistance under the auspices of the Swedish Consul Raoul Nordling. Strongly opposed by the Communists, it is very poorly maintained. Fighting resumes 21.-resistant ill-equipped can not take over the Wehrmacht, entrenched in its bearings.
August 22, Leclerc, which is 250 km west , Bradley gets the nod as expected. He launched the 15,000 men and 400 tanks and armored its 2nd DB to Paris. The division is growing rapidly before meeting the 24th, a strong German opposition to the south and west of the capital.
the evening launches Leclerc Raymond Dronne column captain coming through the door Italy and arrived around 21:00 to City Hall occupied by the FFI.
The next day at dawn, the second DB street in the capital through the gates of Orleans and Gentilly, the American troops seeping through the Porte d’Italie. Shortly before 3:00 p.m., Von Choltitz was taken prisoner at the Meurice Hotel, headquarters of the command of Gross Paris. Led to the police headquarters, he signed before Leclerc Rol-Tanguy and a “surrender agreement” before initialling, Montparnasse station, the act of capitulation.
The arrival of Leclerc 22 It was preceded by the release Sunday, August 20 in the morning to the former agency Havas, become French Information Office (FIO) vichiste news organization, which immediately changed its name to French news agency, Agence France future Presse (AFP), marked by the spirit of resistance, according to his “biographer”, journalist Xavier Baron.
After seeing Leclerc, de Gaulle moved to the Ministry of War. Around 7:15 p.m., in the middle of an exuberant crowd, he went to City Hall to greet “!, Paris Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated.”
The losses of divisions are moderate: the 2nd Armoured Division lost 156 men, the 4th American division no. But FFI 1000, 175 police officers and 582 civilians were killed. German side, the toll is 3,200 dead, according to historian Christine Levisse-Touze.
In addition to the great history, the liberation of Paris is full of anecdotes and stories, some of which become mythical , if not true, as the release of the Ritz bar by writer Ernest Hemingway.
26, the leader of Free France down the Champs-Elysées cheered by a million people. In this memoir of war, he wrote: “It is the sea A huge crowd moved and where I am going alone!”.