Unlike many other European cities, Paris did not suffer much destruction during the War. But here are some places of memories of WW2 in Paris. When the Nazis were marching to Paris, the city was declared an “open city” to avoid the destructions that occurred in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands or Warsaw in Poland.
Starting of Occupation
When Paris was about to be freed in the summer of 1944, the German general in charge of the city, von Choltitz received the direct order from Hitler to destroy all the bridges and some monuments as well. Bombs were placed, and Nazi soldiers were waiting for orders, which were, luckily, never given. We owe this to a Swedish diplomat, Raoul Nordling, who spent a whole night convincing von Choltizt not to destroy Paris. In order to see where, exactly, this meeting took place, we must go to the Headquarters of the Nazi occupiers on the street of Rivoli, at the Hotel Meurice (228, Rue de Rivoli). Traces of fights are to be seen all around, on the Concorde Square for instance.
In 1944, many cities in France were destroyed by allied bombings, however, Paris was not a strategic target. The factories were outside of the city and Paris was not, unlike the German cities, hubs where railways would cross. The suburbs faced such bombings.
Hôtel de Ville
During the Liberation of Paris, which started on August 19th, 1944, street fights occurred everywhere in the city. Many building still bear the traces of the fights of August 1944. Especially in the center of the city and on the Hotel de Ville, the City Hall (Place de l’Hotel de Ville). Bullet holes, traces of shells and bombs are still here to be seen.
It is also interesting to visit the Marais, an area of Paris where many Jews used to live during the war. Many plates remind us the fate of the Jewish population. And the Shoah Memorial remind us that 75000 Jews were deported and killed during the Nazi occupation (17, rue Geoffroy L’Asnier, 75004).
On the wall of this monument is the Wall of the Righteous. Which shows us the name of the French people who helped jewish families to survive World War 2.
On the island of la Cité is the Deportation Memorial. This monument commemorate the 200,000 French victims who died in the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. (7, quai de l’Archevêché).
Around the cathedral Notre Dame, there are many traces of the fights during the Liberation of Paris. The reason is that the Préfecture de Police lies in front of the cathedral. The headquarters of the Police was a stronghold where many Resistants fought the Nazi army (1, bis rue de Lutèce).
Throughout the city, many plates remind us where Resistants died for the Liberation of Paris.
The Army Museum at the Hôtel des Invalides displays a great collection of documents and artefacts from WW2 (129, rue de Grenelle).
A great collection can also be found at the Musée de la Libération de Paris. The Museum of the Liberation of Paris is located at 4 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy.
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Article written by Florent