Liberation of Paris – 70th Anniversary

Day 110 of Colourisation Project – August 25

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

This day August 25, marks the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris. After four years of German occupation, Paris once again belonged to the Parisians. Today, Parisians will be dancing in the square outside the Hôtel de Ville, where 70 years ago, Charles de Gaulle told a jubilant crowd that Paris had ‘stood up to liberate itself’.

American Troops

Photo: Poinsett/Signal Corps  –  The 28th Infantry Division – Champs Élysées – ‘Victory Day’  – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Paris, had been under siege by Nazi Germany since the signing of the Second Compiègne Armistice on 22 June 1940. The Battle for Paris started with an uprising by the French Resistance against the German garrison on 19 August 1944.  By 24 August, the French Forces of the Interior, received reinforcements from the Free French Army of Liberation with back up support from the U.S. Third Army under General Patton.

The 7 day battle drew to an end with the German garrison surrendering on 25 August 1944. French General, Jacques Leclerc entered the free French capital triumphantly and Charles de Gaulle, president of the Provisional Government of the French Republic moved back into the War Ministry on the Rue Saint-Dominique. Later in the day he delivered a rousing improvised speech to the crowd from the Hôtel de Ville.  The speech was transmitted live by radio all over the country in what was to be a truly a historic moment for France.

“Paris! An outraged Paris! A broken Paris! A martyred Paris! But… a liberated Paris! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people with the help of the armies of France, with the support and the help of all of France, of the fighting France, of the only France, the real France, the eternal France! ”

The next day a victory parade down the Champs-Élysées, with General de Gaulle leading the triumphal procession finished at Notre Dame Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving.

Three days later on the 29th August, a combined Franco-American military parade was organised after the arrival of the U.S. Army’s 28th Infantry Division. Exuberant crowds greeted their liberators and echoes of La Marseillaise resounded throughout the capital.

It has been estimated that between 800 and 1,000 resistance fighters were killed during the battle for Paris, and another 1,500 were wounded.

There was still much heavy fighting before France was to become fully liberated, Alsace and Lorraine in eastern France remained under occupation, where the German army continued fighting tenaciously for the remainder of 1944 and into 1945.

__________________________________________________________

“I’ve played my cards well. I’ve won.” Charles de Gaulle

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