In the desperate days of June 1940 captain Philippe de Hauteclocque made his way to London and adopted the war-name of “Leclerc”. As a great tactician and outstanding leader, he enjoyed a blistering career. His name and that of his 2nd Armored Division are associated with the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
Philippe de Hauteclocque was one of the officers who refused to accept the defeat of 1940 and continued to fight in the ranks of Free France. He took on the pseudonym Leclerc as his nom de guerre. His star rapidly ascended: still a captain in July 1940, he was promoted to general in 1941.
His first mission was to rally the Free French Forces in French Equatorial Africa. From bases in Chad, Leclerc directed expeditions against the Italian forces in Libya. There he swore with his men not to lay down their arms before seeing the French flag fly over Strasbourg cathedral. After the Allied success in North Africa, Leclerc succeeded to unite a variety of forces from Free France and the former Vichy Army in the new 2nd French Armored Division. The division landed in France on 1 August 1944 and was tasked with liberating Paris. The 2nd division then continued to fight in Alsace and liberated Strasbourg in November 1944.
At the end of the war, the 2nd division arrived in Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s alpine residence. Leclerc died in a plane accident in Algeria in 1947. He was posthumously promoted Marshal of France. His energy and charisma made him a major national figure.
The Charles de Gaulle Historial presents the story of a man whose life is closely linked to the liberation of France. The museum uses high-tech multimedia equipment to unfold the career path of the general and help visitors understand the extent of Charles de Gaulle’s stamp on the history of France.
The museum of the liberation of the Colmar Pocket, full of authentic big and small artefacts, tells the story of a dramatic page of Alsatian history during the bitter cold fighting for the Colmar Pocket.
The Army Museum in Paris, created in 1905, is one of the biggest museums of military art and history in the world. Its Contemporary Department retraces the story of the French Army from the period 1871 to 1945 and thus covers both World Wars. The Army Museum encompasses the Historial Charles de Gaulle and the Museum of the Order of the Liberation.
The Museum of the Order of the Liberation in Paris documents the history of the Free French Forces, the government-in-exile led by General Charles de Gaulle during WWII. The permanent exhibition presents more than 2,000 pieces retracing the journey of the Companions. The exhibit features three galleries: Free France, The Inner Resistance, and The Deportation.
A statue of General Charles de Gaulle stands near the Champs Elysées in Paris, France. During the Second World War, the German forces in Paris surrendered on August 25, 1944. The next day de Gaulle paraded on the Champs-Elysées.