On this day: The liberation of Paris

August 25 1944: Vive Paris


The city had been occupied by Hitler's forces for four long years, but finally General Charles de Gaulle and the allied forces were able to march back into Paris.

After several days of fighting sparked by an uprising by the French resistance, the allies prevailed. On August 24, the French 2nd Armoured Division became the first one in, followed by other American and French troops and cheered on by residents.

The following morning the occupying forces led by General Dietrich von Choltitz, the commander of the Paris garrison, signed a document of surrender at Montparnasse station and ordered his troops to cease their fire.

As president of the Provisional Government of the French Republic, De Gaulle's first stop in the reclaimed city was the town hall, where he said "Vive Paris".

"Paris. Paris outraged. Paris broken. Paris martyred. But Paris liberated."

The next day, despite the continued presence of sniper fire, the city celebrated as thousands of people took to the Champs Elyeeses. More than 1,000 civilians had died in the uprising, but three months after D Day, France, not only Paris, was liberated.

What the JC said: Four years ago France fell, betrayed and overwhelmed, beneath the brute force and political poison gas of the conquering Hun. Many, in other countries, rashly concluded that she was for ever lost to the family of great nations. Others knew, the moment they heard that heroic call from De Gaulle at the hour of his country's deepest humiliation that the real France was not crushed but would surely rise again, and they have proved right. France, the real France, has struggled to her feet and her sons, fighting as Frenchmen on their own soil and liberating its capital city, have asserted her irrepressible vitality with an élan and gallantry that has inspired and thrilled the friend of their country everywhere. This splendid resurrection has its signal moral: No self-respecting people will submit to extinction while a spark of life exists amongst its true sons and daughters and while an ounce of proper pride stirs within it.

See more from the JC archives here

    Last updated: 8:56am, August 25 2011