Back to freedom and sovereignty
The liberation of Paris didn’t have Allied priority, but an uprising of the population against the Germans on 19 August made it necessary. Thus the 2nd French Armoured Division was sent to Paris and entered the city on 24 August. On 26 August a huge triumphal parade was held on the Champs-Élysées.
After defeating the German forces in Normandy, Allied armies rushed through France, trying to catch up retreating German troops. The liberation of Paris didn’t have priority, also because the risk of damaging the town. On 19 August 1944 however, the French resistance caused an uprising in Paris against the Germans. The German commander of Paris, Lieutenant-General Choltitz, was ordered to crush the insurrection and to destroy the city, as the Germans did in Warsaw.
To prevent this disaster, Charles de Gaulle insisted to interfere. Allied Command sent in Major-General Leclerc’s 2nd French Armored Division, supported by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division of Major-General Barton. A first group managed to infiltrate into the heart of Paris on the evening of 24 August.
On 25 August, the French and American forces were warmly welcomed by the Parisians. Choltitz and his staff were captured at the Meurice Hotel. The capitulation was signed at the Police Department on the Île de la Cité. After that, Choltitz was taken to the Montparnasse train station from where he ordered his troops to surrender. The next day, cheered by countless people, de Gaulle led the triumphal parade on the Champs-Élysées. France regained its national unity and sovereignty.
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.
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 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.
On 6 June 1944, 177 French commandos landed in the first wave on Sword Beach in Colleville. Their objective was to capture the German fortified casino in Ouistreham and to join with troops of the 6th Airborne Division at Benouville. Led by Philippe Kieffer, these were the only French soldiers to land on French soil on D-Day.
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.
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.