The Liberation of Paris

After four years of occupation, Paris weighed on the free world’s conscience. Following the allied landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, the capital waited impatiently for deliverance. On all sides, Resistants were mobilized and went on strike at the initiative of the Paris Committee for the Liberation. Constant alerts and bombings, difficulties in finding food and the general paralysis of transports made daily life for the city inhabitants even harder. The German front had been pierced in Normandy, and the advance of the 1st Army and the Anglo-Americans in the Rhône Valley obliged the enemy to change plans. Paris found itself at the heart of strategy and politics. A call to mobilization launched by Colonel Rol, head of the French Forces of the Interior in the area, with the approval of Georges Bidault, President of the National Council of the Resistance and the Paris Liberation Committee, accelerated the insurrectional process.

From August 19 to General de Gaulle’s triumphal parade down the Champs-Élysées on August 26, 1944, Paris rose against the enemy. Barricades were quickly erected. Men, women and children formed human chains and passed along the paving stones that were used to make barriers. On August 24, 1944, nearly 600 barricades appeared in Paris and the nearby urban area. In addition to the traditional mobilization of the workers’ districts on the east and north, the more well-to-do districts to the west were also involved. Thanks to these barricades, the people of Paris became participants in their liberation. Through the spontaneous commitment of its inhabitants, Paris rose to fight.

On March 24, 1945, the City of Paris was made a Companion of the Liberation. On April 2, General de Gaulle gave the city the Cross of the Order of the Liberation during a ceremony in front of the Paris City Hall. This major event in Paris history left behind a number of traces that are still visible today. Many of the city’s streets were renamed for its defenders, and the city’s walls hold nearly 500 plaques commemorating the victims of the Liberation.