"Why do you wish us to hide the emotion which seizes us all, men and women, who are here, at home, in Paris which stood up to liberate itself and that succeeded in doing this with its own hands. No! We will not hide this deep and sacred emotion. These are minutes which go beyond each of our poor lives. Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! Paris liberated!" (General DeGaulle)
American soldier studies the Eiffel Tower, with the tricolour flag flying on top, courtesy
It had been over three years since Parisians fled the city...three years since they heard the approach of the German tanks...three years since their Maginot Line, seemingly indestructible, had been breached. But on August 29, 1944, Parisians watched from the sidewalks as 15,000 American troops, accompanied by French forces. marched down the Champs Elysees.
On August 25, Charles DeGaulle's victory speech at the Hotel de Ville had roused the crowd. The following day saw a victory parade march down the Champs Elysees. Three days later, a second parade was organized. Tanks rolled under the Arc de Triomphe. The tricolour flag was front and centre once again. Thousands of spectators, standing under the leafy trees that lined the boulevard, cheered. "Vive DeGaulle! "Vive la France!"
For France, the battle was over. But for much of Europe, the Second World War would rage on for months.