A Picture from History: The Liberation of Paris By: Aden Tate

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Four long years passed since the Germans invaded France.

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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.