Paris marks 75 years since liberation from Nazis

Paris marks 75 years since liberation from Nazis

Paris has been celebrating the American soldiers, French Resistance fighters and others who liberated the City of Light from Nazi occupation exactly 75 years ago.

Firefighters unfurled a huge French flag from the Eiffel Tower, recreating the moment when a French tricolor stitched together from sheets was hoisted atop the monument 75 years ago to replace the swastika flag that had flown for four years.

People dressed in Second World War-era military uniforms and dresses joined parades in southern Paris, retracing the entry of French and US tanks into the city on August 25 1944.

Long the jewel of European cities, Paris suffered relatively little damage in the Second World War, but its citizens were humiliated, hungry and mistrustful after 50 months under the Nazis.

US soldiers march along the Champs Elysees after the liberation of Paris (Peter J Carroll/AP)
US soldiers march along the Champs Elysees after the liberation of Paris (Peter J Carroll/AP)

The liberation of Paris was both joyous and chaotic.

It was faster and easier for the Allies than their protracted battle through Normandy and its gun-filled hedgerows. But the fight for the French capital killed nearly 5,000 people, including Parisian civilians, German troops and members of the French Resistance whose sabotage and attacks had prepared the city for the liberation.

The D-Day landings on June 6 1944 helped change the tide of the war, allowing the Allies to push through Normandy and beyond to other German-occupied lands around Western Europe.

The message went out to the French Resistance in Paris that the Allies were advancing.

On August 19 1944, Paris police officers rebelled and took over police headquarters. On the night of August 24, the first Allied troops entered southern Paris. The grand entrance of French General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque’s 2nd Armoured Division followed by Allied forces would come the following day.

The German military governor of Paris was arrested at his headquarters at the Meurice Hotel and signed the surrender.

Paris buildings still bear the bullet holes of fighting.

A group of US Second World War veterans are back in Paris for the events.

Steve Melnikoff, 99, of Cockeysville, Maryland, came ashore on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He calls war “nasty, smelly, terrible”. But he maintains that “it was important for someone to do this”, to stop Hitler from taking over more of the world.

Harold Radish, 95, arrived in France in 1944, fought his way to Germany — and then was captured. After he was freed, he visited Paris. He described the liberated city as “a new thing”. He said: Something good had changed, the world was gonna get a little better.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

David Cameron says Nicolas Sarkozy helped him see dying father for last timeDavid Cameron says Nicolas Sarkozy helped him see dying father for last time

Manhunt after knife attack in Lyon leaves one dead and six injuredManhunt after knife attack in Lyon leaves one dead and six injured

France honours African veterans of Second World War landingsFrance honours African veterans of Second World War landings

In Pictures: Paris on parade for Bastille Day celebrationsIn Pictures: Paris on parade for Bastille Day celebrations

More in this Section

Australian cardinal launches appeal against child sex abuse convictionsAustralian cardinal launches appeal against child sex abuse convictions

Iran acknowledges holding British-Australians on spying chargesIran acknowledges holding British-Australians on spying charges

Elon Musk says he did not intend to accuse British diver of being a paedophileElon Musk says he did not intend to accuse British diver of being a paedophile

Trump rallies backers in New Mexico in bid to prise state from DemocratsTrump rallies backers in New Mexico in bid to prise state from Democrats


Lifestyle

It will take you out of your beauty comfort zone, but is remarkably easy to pull off.London Fashion Week: This top make-up artist wants you to ditch your cat-eye for a ‘blue fade’

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a 20-something man who isn’t having any luck meeting women in bars and clubs.Ask a counsellor: ‘Neither me or my mates have had a date for years – what are we doing wrong?’

As Aussie beer and cider brand Gayle launches in the UK, Abi Jackson finds out more from co-founder Virginia Buckworth.‘Brewed with love’: How new Aussie brand Gayle is putting ‘gay ale’ on the world drinks map

Pumpkins and other squash are such a distinctive harvest vegetable that they are used as symbols for many of the season’s festivals.Michelle Darmody: Pumpkin bakes

More From The Irish Examiner