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A Picture from History: The Liberation of Paris

Charles De Gaulle and his entourage walk the streets of a free Paris
In this Picture from History, we take a look at the French Resistance during World War II and the bold moves made to free Paris from Nazi occupation.
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    Four long years passed since the Germans invaded France.

    But in 1944, the French had enough. Though their nation was invaded, they weren’t rolling over..

    Members of the French Resistance
    Members of the French Resistance

    August 19, 1944

    After Frenchman throughout the country go on strike, the Nazi-led Vichy government ground to a halt.

    Supplies weren’t moving, and the country was at a standstill. Things were rapidly growing more animated as well. The Germans knew that it was only a matter of time until things went kinetic. 

    French Resistance
    French Resistance

    Throughout The Occupation, the Germans engaged in a terror campaign against any members of the French Resistance. Extreme measures against resistors were intended to make the public too fearful to join the resistance. 

    But on August 19, everything changed.

    The Paris Uprising Begins

    Fierce street fighting erupted throughout the city. As both men and women take to the streets with whatever weapons they could find, other Frenchmen traveled throughout the city, sticking posters on buildings. 

    The posters summoned the Parisian Police, Republican Guard, and all other patriotic Frenchman to fight for their country against the German invaders. And the people listened.

    Parisian Committee of National Liberation poster
    Parisian Committee of National Liberation poster

    The people were so successful that they actually forced the Germans to retreat into a number of strongholds throughout the city. Seven days after the Paris Uprising commenced, the French Resistance got a helping hand. 

    The Americans Arrive

    Lieutenant General Choltitz was the German commander of Paris. As soon as the Paris Uprising began, he was ordered to completely destroy the “City of Light.”

    What he didn’t realize, though, was that these orders woke the greater part of France. They also brought in the Americans.

    American GIs in Paris
    American GIs in Paris

    To prevent the destruction of the city, the Second Armored Division of the Free French Army and the Fourth Infantry Division of the U.S. Army were sent to the scene.

    The French Resistance largely contained the Germans, so the Americans and Free French were able to quickly mop up any remaining resistance. 

    Lieutenant General Choltitz
    Lieutenant General Choltitz

    Choltitz was quickly captured at the Meurice Hotel on August 25, a matter of hours after the Americans and Free French arrived. And then, for the first time in four years — the first time since Paris fell — the bells of Notre Dame rang out throughout the city of Paris.

    Paris was won. The uprising was a success.

    The End Result

    A total of 27,888 Germans were killed, and 4,911 were wounded as a result of the Paris Uprising. In contrast, the French Resistance faced 1,483 dead and 3,477 wounded.

    Charles De Gaulle and his entourage walk the streets of a free Paris
    Charles De Gaulle and his entourage walk the streets of a free Paris

    Not only did the Liberation of Paris serve as the beginning of the reclamation of France, but it also prevented thousands of Germans from retreating across the Seine to fight another day.

    In consequence, this helped to shorten World War II, enabling the Allies to bring an end to Hitler’s reign of terror and The Holocaust than would have ever been possible otherwise. 

    This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

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    7 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      On point. Keep it coming.

      August 17, 2022 6:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Max Storm

      Very interesting reading. Keep it going.

      August 16, 2022 10:50 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Collecting History

      Lieutenant General Choltitz should be given credit for disobeying Hitler's order to destroy the city. His motivations may be questionable, but nontheless he defied Hitler and did not carry out the order.

      August 15, 2022 6:53 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      liked the article on the Liberation of Paris

      August 14, 2022 8:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Vincent Alberry

      I look forward to reading these historical events as much as the articles presented by Pew Pew. Keep them coming.

      August 14, 2022 4:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Example of what a "militia" is capable of!

      August 14, 2022 3:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Love this short historical content. Keep it up

      August 14, 2022 2:47 pm
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