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tv   Allied Liberation of Paris  CSPAN  January 5, 2021 2:06pm-3:10pm EST

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as a public service. on august 25th, 1944, u.s. and french soldiers liberated paris after more than four years of german occupation. up next on american history tv, military historian harry laver chronicles the operation. the kansas city public library hosted this talk. >> good evening, everyone. i'm talia evans. we're thrilled to have you here tonight and have harry laver as our speaker. tonight's program is the library's latest. we've been partnering with them since january 2008 and our programs get more and more popular every month. we're down here in kirk hall in our brand-new chairs just because we couldn't fit you all
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upstairs. [ applause ] it doesn't matter the topic. tonight's discussion about the liberation of paris is no different. harry laver is a professor of military history. he specializes in the american civil war and world war ii europe. he was a fullbright scholar. i'm not going to keep you guys any longer. let's welcome up harry laver. [ applause ] >> good evening. >> good evening. >> and thank you to talia and the entire staff here at the kansas city public library. is this not a great facility? [ applause ] >> it is really one of the
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jewels of kansas city and we at the staff college are very appreciative of the relationship we have with the library and most of my colleagues, many of whom are in the audience. this is one of the great opportunities that we really cher ri cherish to come down here and speak at the library and thanks to you as well for coming out. what a nice crowd. having been here before, i see familiar faces which is great. we appreciate your support of coming out as you have for all of those times that we've been down here to to do talks. how many of you have been to paris? i've got nothing to tell you, then, if you've been. how many of you have been to paris recently, say in the last 75 years? [ laughter ] all right, it looks like just
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about everybody. well, if you haven't been, for the time that we've got together tonight, let's go to france. and let's go back to france in the summer of 1944. more specifically august 7th, 1944. and we're going to meet the man we see in the jeep here, a smile most of us recognize, general dwight eisenhower, supreme commander of all the allied forces in western europe. eisenhower was in france on august the 7th to establish his advance command post, his headquarters that he was going to move, the permanent headquarters that was in london at the time and he was going to move it over to the continent on september 1st. but he was there in normandy outside the town of bay yut to
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establish an early headquarters as i said. now, the code name for eisenhower's temporary headquarters was shell burst. now, since d-day which occurred about two months before, allied forces had not moved as rapidly across france as planners had anticipated, but a couple weeks before this time when eisenhower is there, with the success of operation cobra, british and american and other allied forces broke out of the normandy beachhead and began to work their way across france. now, as eisenhower and his staff studied the maps the arrows and unit markers that traced the progress of the units across france, their eyes were drawn almost in voluntarily like a moth to flame to paris.
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the french capital. the city of light. paris, the city that world war i veterans spoke of with something of a sly smile and a wink. but that was a paris of another time. that was the paris of another generation. for at this point, paris was an occupied city and had been occupied for four years by the summer of 1944. well, eisenhower and his senior commanders that we see in this photograph were not the first allied officers to think about the city of paris. in fact, even before d-day planners were already thinking about what do we do when we get to paris? and the plan was that when we get to paris, we are not going to move directly into paris. instead, we're going to bypass the city. we're going to encircle it.
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and they thought about things like difficult street-fighting, high casualties, both civilian and military. the distraction away from the real objective which was going to be the german army and moving directly into germany. and the possible destruction of many of paris' great architectural wonders as well as sustaining a city of 4 million people. it would be 4,000 tons a day for supplies for food and fuel for the civilian population of paris. 4,000 tons that would have to be diverted from eisenhower's military forces. and so with those factors in mind, the preliminary planners decided we're going to bypass paris. well, of course the americans and british weren't the only ones thinking about paris. the germans had also been
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considering what to do about paris, especially since they occupied the city in the spring of 1940. and adolf hitler had made it clear after june the 6th when allied forces landed in normandy that paris was going to be held and it was not going to be surrendered to the germans. well, on august the 7th, the same day eisenhower was off in normandy setting up his headquarters, shell burst, this man, was named as the commanding general of paris. good luck or horrible luck, depending on how you might look at it. he had experience in the war including overseeing occupied city and he was hitler's hand-picked choice to oversee paris and ensure that it
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remained out of allied hands. from that day on august the 7th, choltitz organized the forces under his command to ensure that hitler's decree was going to be carried out. and, of course, the french had been thinking about paris. for paris, to the french, was more than just the political capital. it was more than the economic capital. it was more than the cultural center of france. paris was the spiritual center of france. it's where the french soul resided. even when the city was under the heel of an occupying military force. and this man, general de gaulle, has emerged almost by default as the leader of those french who
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were unwilling to bend to the nazi regime. after leading one of the few counterattacks against german-invading forces in the spring of 1940, de gaulle escaped to london and there in a broadcast over bbc radio that became known as the appeal of june 18th, de gaulle issued a challenge to frenchmen everywhere to continue their resistance against the nazi invaders who had become occupiers, to continue their resistance against frenchmen in france who had surrendered their independence and dignity to cooperate with the german forces. he called on frenchmen to rally to him. as he had assumed the mantle of free france. now, truth is, de gaulle had not been elected by anyone. he was essentially self-appointed as the leader of
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france at the time. but in the four years from june of 1940 when the germans invaded now to the summer of 1944, most had come to recognize de gaulle as the leader of free france. one significant exception was the american president, franklin roosevelt, who did not like de gaulle. roosevelt wasn't alone in that. but roosevelt continued to remind people that de gaulle was not elected and the united states could not recognize de gaulle as president without a democratic process. you can identify with that to a degree. but despite roosevelt's reluctance to recognize de gaulle by the spring and summer of 1944, as i said, most had accepted de gaulle as their leader, including the various resistance factions in france and there were many.
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there were many. but they had decided to set aside their political difference for the moment to present a united front against the german occupiers and they collectively became known as the french forces of the interior or the ffi and they acknowledged de gaulle, for the moment, as their recognized leader. and de gaulle wanted paris as he made clear in that appeal of in france and more specifically in paris, over that summer of 1944 tensions began to rise in the city, especially after d-day when the allies landed in normandy. on june the 14th, bastille day,
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demonstrations broke out and parisians started to display the tricolor, the french flag, prohibited by the germans since they occupied the city. certainly this was disquieting for the germans seeing that, knowing that the allies had landed some weeks earlier. by the second week of august, rail workers went out on strike and parisians began to notice that civilian workers from germany along with the uniformed women of the german army, they were known as the gray mice, were starting to take trains heading east out of paris. equally noticeable was in courtyards across the city, there were german government official documents burning and sending ash like confetti over
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various regions of the city, unmistakable signs to the parisians. then on august 14th, the paris police went out on strike as well. 15,000 paris policemen, all of them armed, did not show up to work that day. this certainly had to be disquieting for the occupying german forces because those 15,000 policemen just disappeared into the civilian population again with their arms and certainly there had to be germans who were looking over their soldiers at every moment. clearly change was coming, brought by the winds of war coming out of the west. not long after the rail workers and the police went out on strike, postal workers joined in and then workers in the paris subway system, the metro went
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out on strike and the strikes collectively paralyzed the city. and that small trickle of german officials that were leaving the city, nobody could miss, was turning into a significant exodus, all again troubling signs for the german occupiers. and then on saturday, june the 19th, open rebellion, insurrection, conducted by the resistance forces broke out in paris. now, the resistance was not united in this decision to begin an insurrection. those who were followers of the charles de gaulle advocating waiting, we have to be patient, the allied armies are still miles and miles away from paris and we are going to need their help and their support. at that point, word was trickling in from the eastern front, specifically in warsaw, where the resistance in warsaw
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had begun an uprising against the german occupiers and word was that the germans were inflicting brutal casualties on the resistance workers in the hundreds if not thousands. and there was concern among the followers of de gaulle that that would happen to us. but the communist elements in the resistance were adamant that now was the time to strike. and those followers of de gaulle recognized if they didn't join in when liberation came, they may well have given up any claim to power because they didn't join in the resistance. and so the battle for paris was on and scattered fire fights erupted across the city like summer thunderstorms. well, the resistance forces, especially targeted german convoys transiting across the city and installations where they believed they could gain
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additional weapons. and then early that morning, a striking policeman clambered up on top of a car in front of the prefecture of police, the police headquarters, stone's throw from notre dame. and he proclaimed that he was seizing the police headquarters in the name of de gaulle and the provisional republic of france. there were a couple other striking policemen there and they moved into the police headquarters. germans had not anticipated this and they didn't have forces available. well, that evening in an attempt to bring peace to a city that was erupting in violence, this man, raul nordling worked to
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broker a truce between the two sides. and he met with general choltitz. they would afford them all the rights commensurate with a regular soldier. the germans also agreed not to attempt to retake any buildings that the resistance had seized. on the part of the resistance, they agreed not to attack any german convoys that were clearly leaving the city. and they agreed not to try to seize any german strong points. well the following morning, sunday, august 20th, outside the hotel de ville which was the center for the municipal government for paris, resistance forces mimicking what the police
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had done the previous day, moved in and occupied the hotel de ville. again, little german resistance to this. bit by bit, block by block, choltitz and his men were starting to lose control of paris. but choltitz still had significant military power. so really the question was, what would the germans do and that might well determine the fate of paris. well, that same morning when the resistance seized the hotel de ville, de gaulle returned to france from his provisional government headquarters . when he returned to france, he met with general eisenhower at shell burst there outside the
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town. the two men had met any number of times previously in the war. in late december of 1943, just a few months before this point, they had met as eisenhower was beginning to transit from the mediterranean back to england to prepare for d-day. at that point in their discussions, eisenhower had agreed that when the time for the liberation of paris came, french forces would be the first ones in. well now that time had come, at least in de gaulle's estimation. eisenhower wasn't so sure. he was still sticking to the pre-d-day plan of bypassing paris. these two men are a study in compare and contrast. they were born a month apart in 1890. they both came from large
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families. they both were avid readers of military history. in world war i, their careers diverged to some degree. de gaulle served as an infantry company commander, was wounded three times and left for dead on the battlefields where he was taken prisoner. as most of you know, i think, eisenhower was ordered to stay stateside during world war i and train up troops who then got the good fortune to travel across the atlantic into the trenches of the western front. at this point, both of them knew they were approaching this war from very different perspectives. eisenhower from the united states, which virtually all recognized was a world power,
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ready to take the stage. eisenhower knew americans history and new in the relatively short history of the united states that the country had suffered really in only a minor way from foreign invaders. whereas de gaulle looked at france and saw them on the verge of disappearing from the world stage as an independent nation. and he looked at france's history over centuries far longer than the united states and recognized that france had been invaded from timely memorial, from the romans, the germans and others. and de gaulle saw himself at this point as perhaps france's last best hope is to survive as
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a nation. he described himself as a man of destiny. eisenhower saw himself as a soldier with a job to do and described himself as a man of the kansas plains. so now that man of destiny was pressing that man from the plains of kansas to move on paris. it's too early, eisenhower responded. de gaulle, with a retort, said, why is it too early? if allied forces have crossed the seine river north of paris and allied forces across the river south of paris, why can't they not cross the river at paris. he told eisenhower that at this point, fundamental was essential to the governors of france at
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that point and in the very fear future. eisenhower responded that he would do what he could, but at this point, he could make no promises of when he would cut loose part of the allied armies to move into paris. well, the following day, de gaulle sent word to eisenhower by de gaulle senior military commander, general konig. and he said that the city was on the verge of anarchy. there was no police presence. had completely ice presence. stopped. food shortages set the city on the verge of famine and de gaulle argued that if the allies don't move now, they were risking a5(lea humanitarian di
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and perhaps the destruction of paris itself. de gaulle and eisenhower, two extraordinarily determined personalities, were putting that relationship to the test. but events in paris would drive eisenhower's decision-making as much if not more so than de gaulle's urgings. on the next day, monday, august 21st, that tentative truce that the sweed nordling had organized fell apart. the communists refused to recognize the truce. the more fanatical elements, the ss agreed in refusing to acknowledge that truce and so the battles were on once again. parisians across the city began to construct barricades out of
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whatever they could find from felled trees to abandoned vehicles to paving stones tearing up paris' well-known cobbled streets. a german sergeant wrote his wife that day, i have the feeling things are going to get bad here. very fast. well, the effectiveness of these barricades, no rhyme or reason to the hundreds that appeared across the city, it's debatable about what effectiveness they may have had in slowing german movement across the city. but what those barricades did demonstrate was that the parisians were not merely an audience. not bystanders to a drama that was unfolding in their streets and parks. they were participants in the liberation of their city. they were contributing to the liberation of their own lives.
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well, as the parisians were constructing these barricades across the city, in his office, in the hotel maurice, general choltitz continued to receive commands. two officers appeared to him telling him they had orders from their commander to take the famous medieval tapestry that was being stored in the louvre museum back to berlin. choltitz told them, well, the resistance has occupied the louvre museum. you are welcome to go and get it. the tapestry did not leave the louvre museum. more seriously, though, was an
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order from hitler reiterating his last-manned defense director for paris and at that point choltitz put in a call. and over the telephone he outlined what he was going to do should the allies make it to paris. the destruction of the ark detriumph, the opera house, notre dame cathedral, la madeleine church, the seine river bridges and of course choltitz said we'll fell the eiffel tower and the twisted steel will prevent the allies from moving through the city. but in truth, he had no intention of doing any such thing knowing that the phone line were probably tapped by the
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gestapo, he was being very careful in what he said. for choltitz recognized and acknowledged that paris was one of the most beautiful cities in paris and if not the world and he had no intention of being the man known to history who destroyed all of those architectur architectural wonders i just described. he was tried the best he could to protect his family who was still in germany. and choltitz feared he would have to carry out hitler's directive or he would be replaced by a director who would carry out hitler's directive. he commented to his staff, ever since the enemies have refused to listen to our feherur, the
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war has gone badly. and choltitz secreceived the or he had been fearing. the strongest measures must be taken against the first signs of insurrection including public execution of ring leaders, demolition of the seine bridges must be prepared, paris must not fall into enemy hands except as a field of ruins. time was running out for general choltitz and time was running out for paris as well. closely following the deterioration of conditions in paris as best as they could with the limited information they had were the senior allied military commanders. to eisenhower's right here is general omar bradley. 12th army group commander, senior american ground forces commander in europe. ike's direct american
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subordinate. to eisenhower's left is general pierre konig. these men, on that morning of august 22nd had a discussion and they made the determination that the conditions in paris were such that they could not bypass the city. and eisenhower sent word to the combined chiefs of staff, the combined american and british commanders back in london, his superior officers, informing them of this decision. and to eisenhower's credit, he couched this message to the chiefs of staff in a way that precluded debate, that precluded counter orders coming down and saying, no, you're not going into paris. and what eisenhower said was, in essence, if we bypass paris, the germans have sufficient combat power to continually threaten our flanks and our rear.
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if the germans evacuate paris without a fight, it's ours anyway. and so what eisenhower did was to make the decision to move into paris a militarily-based decision, rather than one based on political considerations. well, eisenhower had already given approval for the man in the center of this photograph, general ifleclerc to be the fir forces into paris. and the evening after eisenhower and the other senior commanders met, orders went out for the movement into paris. leclerc's second armored division was going to be joined by the united states fourth
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infantry division. the other approaching paris directly from the south, made up primarily of the u.s. fourth infantry with the spearhead of french forces. the following day when general choltitz was receiving his field of ruin orders from berlin, the french second armored division was about 120 miles outside of paris and they set out that morning for paris. 16,000 men, 200 sherman tanks, hundreds of other vehicles, all moving in column. a journalist who was traveling with leclerc's force wrote in the heart of every frenchman here there is a name, a goal, paris, paris, paris. and by the evening of that day,
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the two columns, leclerc's fourth and the u.s. fourth infantry division were on the outskirts of paris. they met minimal resistance and there was hope that the germans were going to evacuate the city and spare paris that had suffered so much misery and destruction for four years all of that heartache. the following morning on august the 24th, very light summer rain was falling as the two columns began to move forward again. the plan was they would meet at one of the great public squares in paris. that great square that anchors on one end by the ark detriumph. and by the end of the day,
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neither column had still really broken into paris itself. and general bradley, overseeing all of this was getting impatient. one of his subordinates said the french still aren't in paris, they're dancing towards paris. bradley was furious. he fires off a telegram to eisenhower telling this and sends a message to the fourth infantry commander, slam into paris and bypass the french. well, of course, general leclerc and his men had not been dancing with the germans. they had encountered stiff resistance and suffered significant casualties that day. but that evening, leclerc was still determined to get french forces into paris. he found one of his best young officers, and told him take a small force and sbet inget into city. you want me to bypass any german
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strong points? yes, get into the city any way you can. and so at about 8:30. drone set off with a small force. and with the help of the french resistance, wound their way up the avenue, across the seine river to the hotel de ville where the resistance was headquartered. they got there about 9:30. drone then sent a couple of people over to the prefecture of the police, that the police had seized some days earlier to let them know that american and french forces would be in the city in strength the following day. and not surprisingly, word spread from the prefecture of police, just hardly a block away to notre dame cathedral. and it's 14-ton bell that had been silent for four years began to toll, setting off a cascade of church bells across the city including the even larger 19-ton
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bell onfo."i the northern side e city. in his office, in the hotelz
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was essentially up and began withdrawing today east side, almost like a receding tide. by midmorning, french and american columns were moving through the streets of paris, almost like rivers of iron and steel. some vehicles with white american stars on them, others with a silhouette of france with the cross of lorraine superimposed on the map. but all the germans had not left. and so fighting continued between german tanks and german infantry around the arc detriumph, around the louvre museum. at 12:30, the french flag, the
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tricolor appeared above the eiffel tower. we can only imagine what went through parisians minds after they saw that. shortly after, the french flag appeared at the arc de triumphe as well. they broke in the door and the first french soldier in challenged choltitz. his response was, yes, and probably better than you. but at that point choltitz surrendered and he signed the documents surrendering all of the remaining german forces there in paris. not far away a small column of trucks pulled up to the front of the hotel ritz and an american
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reporter working for "collier's" magazine, man on the right, ernest hemingway, got out and with a group of -- i'm going to be generous here. and say a group of french irregular soldiers made their way into the bar where hemingway, by legend, at least, ordered 73 dry martinis for himself and his newfound friends. well, the celebrations were beginning in paris. well, de gaulle arrived in paris late that friday afternoon. and the first thing he went -- the first place he went to was the train station. this is a photograph of him and de gaulle is the one with the cigarette. and he went there intentionally
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because that's where general leclerc, that we see here to de gaulle's left, had the army headquarters. and de gaulle went there to emphasize the role the french army had played in liberating the city and to downplay the role of the resistance that was made up to such a significant degree of communists, that de gaulle knew he was going to have a political battle with. there was also a young second lieutenant from the second armored division, if a lephilli gaulle and he was able to share this moment with his father. de gaulle traveled to the ministry of war where he had an office in 1940, before he made his escape to london. and there he symbolically, as well as in a very practical sense, set the wheels in motion
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for the governing of france once again from its capital in paris. he then made his way to the prefecture of police as an acknowledgement of the role the striking policemen had played in liberating the city and only then did he go to the hotel de ville where the resistance was headquartered. but when he got to the hotel de ville, he gave an impromptu address to the crowds outside. and this address is arguably one of his more important and effective speeches that he gave in his career. and what i hope to do, if your technology works, is show you a short video clip, less than a minute, of de gaulle's address there outside the hotel de ville on the day that paris was liberated. he's speaking in french, of
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course, there aren't subtitles. but i'll give you a translation once it's over. it's very short. once you watch it, if you don't understand french, pay attention to his body language and the emotion that we see from de gaulle at this point when he has finally returned to his beloved paris. [ speaking foreign language ] [ speaking foreign language ] [ applause ]
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>> paris. paris outraged. paris broken. paris martyred. but paris liberated. liberated by itself. liberated by its people with the help of the french armies, with the support and the help of all france, of the france that fights, of the only france of the real france of the eternal france. really what de gaulle was doing, i think, is proclaiming the return of a free and independent france, taking its place once again in the world community as well as giving back to the french population the pride and dignity of being france and discounting that french
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government that collaborated and cooperated with the germans. this was the real france, the eternal france. well, that same evening, de gaulle began organizing a france. well, that same evening, the parade the following day and a parade that was to celebrate the liberation of paris, but also a parade to let everyone know, both friend and foe alike that de gaulle was the leader of france. there could be no question and so that next morning it was a saturday, it was a warm, sunny day and word spread across the city that at 3:00 there was going to be a grand parade and precisely ontime, governor de
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gaulle arrived at the ark did you tdu triomphe and where he lt france's, terpal flaeternal flae french had extinguished four years earlier. he then went down the shacchamp elysee leading the military commanders and leclerc, general schuon, along with civilian leaders and leaders of the resistance. and the estimates of the crowd vary. de gaulle said there were 2 million -- maybe. but i think there were tens of
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thousands of par igszs who showed up in this parade and as they made their way down the champs elysee to the arc du triomphe and the followers approached that city square, gun fire rang out, sending people there ducking in confusion for cover. there was chaos as no one knew where the gun fire was coming from and who was doing the shooting. de gaulle, however, was absolutely unshaken. never flinching, he continued to move forward across that square to the car that, by design, was to take him to notre dame cathedral. and when he got to notre dame he was met outside by city
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officials, others of his military officers and church leaders and as they began to make their way through notre dame through the main front door, gun fire again erupted outside in the square of the cathedral as well as inside the cathedral and once again, de gaulle didn't flinch. standing erect he strode down the center aisle to the altar as those were seeking cover among the pews. where the gun fire came from, and where it was celebratory, and where there were resistance forces, nobody knows for certain. what we do know is that when de gaulle emerged from notre dame that afternoon he had become the embodiment of france. his determination after four years, standing up to all powers
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including winston churchill including franklin roosevelt and his personal bravery that day at the blast of la concord and notre dame established him as the undisputed now leader of france. in the days7qrd÷ that followed gaulle sent a letter to generalizgeneral eisenhower, thanking him and de gaulle asked eisenhower to give him additional forces to help stabilize the city. eisenhower agreed to leave the second french armored division there for a while, but he declined to commit any other military forces to paris because as eisenhower pointed out, the germans are still on the eastern outskirts of paris. the war continues and it will continue for months yet to come, but eisenhower did agree to have
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the united states' 28th infantry division on their way to the front march through paris in a parade. and so a few days later the 28th division did just that, from the arc du triomphe through the champs elysee through the place de la concord and scores of other military and civilian officials and eisenhower did this, one, to show support for de gaulle and secondly to remind parisians that the united states played a pretty significant role in the liberation of their city, as well. b@r(t&háhp &hc% well, when eisenhower and another photograph of the 28th division and there is quite an impressive sight and you can google this and see it easily. when eisenhower visited paris just the day after de gaulle's
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parade, first thing they did was to call on de gaulle's war ministry and this was by eisenhower to show support to acknowledge him as the legitimate leader and the provisional president of the republic of france and eisenhower wrote later his motivations for this. he said he wanted to show the people my support for de gaulle and that i believed de gaulle was the boss of france, and he said that's the effect i wanted and that's the effect that i got. eisenhower also told de gaulle on that visit that he was going to establish his military headquarters on the outskirts of paris and not on the city. another gesture and support of de gaulle because if eisenhower had established supreme command there in the city it likely would have overshadowed and distracted away from de gaulle's efforts to re-establish a
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functioning french government. another gesture by eisenhower that de gaulle appreciated and the relationship that these two men built over the course of the war, and it wasn't all roses, did pay off even later after the war because both of these men would become the elected leaders of their respective countries and have to work together through some very difficult times in the cold war that was not very far away. and so, paris had been liberated. ear ernie pyle, the famed journalist, who wrote about the war from the g.i.'s perspective and painted for his readers a word picture of the filth and the degradation and the horrors of war equally well captured the essence and the emotion of a
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liberated paris. he wrote, it was the loveliest, brightest story of our time. well, who deserves the credit for liberating paris? is it the senior military commanders, eisenhower, bradley, general leclerc, de gaulle who orchestrated the military advance into the city? or is it the french and american soldiers who drove the last vastages of french military power out? how about the resistance who began the insurrection that really set the table for the allied advance into the city, and in fact, accelerated the allied advance into the city. and maybe a dark horse
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candidate, general von coltis who refused to follow hitler's field of ruins order, whatever his motivations might have been. well, for all of you who have been to paris and experienced paris maybe it doesn't really matter who gets the credit for paris because if you've been to paris, what's perhaps most important is paris is still paris. thank you all for coming tonight. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you. and i believe i have time for some questions and the guidance i have received from the public
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library and c-span is if you have a question you need to come up to the mike and so c-span can record it and one disclaimer, i'm sort of a world war ii historian and not a french historian, but many of my colleagues out there are french historians so we can turn to them if you stump me. sir, you have a question? >> yes. i apologize in advance because everything i know about this i learned from the movie "patton." [ laughter ] >> all true. all true. you didn't mention his name so did he truly, factually play any role in the advance on paris? >> in the liberation of paris? >> yes. >> technically, i'm going have to say perhaps not. in that the forces that moved into paris were, of course, under bradley's command and
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under the 5th corps commander governor leonard giroir, and so patton wasn't directly involved, but hey, it was all a team, fort, right? so we'll say yes, sure. patton helped out by keeping the germans occupied elsewhere. sir? >> my mother was in the wex, and she was stationed in paris obviously, after these events occurred and i know she was there in the beginning of december because she was given leave to go to brussels to visit her english aunt and cousin, but the bulge interfered and her trip got delayed for a few months. so do you know when such non-combatants such as telephone operators would be in paris? not obviously, a few days after this. >> especially for u.s. i don't know for certain. i couldn't say when. with american forces eventually moving in and especially, let me
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backtrack a little bit and eisenhower's headquarters which he established on the outskirts of paris was at versailles and as that started to grow and become the central brain for the rest of the allied fighting the war where eisenhower kept his headquarters they would eventually be, yes, those kind of support personnel who would show up. i expect not too long after he established his headquarters there at versailles, and the exact timing, i couldn't say. i wouldn't risk. >> late september, if i remember. >> late september so we're talking at that point just a few weeks after the liberation of paris. that wouldn't surprise me. sir? >> yes, sir. >> general von, i believe, it's coltis, after he was taken prisoner, my understanding is he was sent to mississippi and he spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp. can you talk about what happened to him after he surrendered paris and what he landed and
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what he did and, you know, how he came out and where he went? >> pretty much what you said is what i know. [ laughter ] he ends up in a prisoner of war camp in mississippi. i assume he's released in late 1945. i don't believe he was involved in any war crimes trials and that sort of thing. probably what he did in paris helped him out to that degree, but what happens to him at that point he disappears from my historical radar screen. great question, though b what does he do in retirement? lives in paris, maybe? >> maybe mayor. >> sir? >> i'd like for you to comment on the growth that were in world war ii like josephine baker. >> can you repeat that? >> negros who were in world war ii for france like josephine baker and the pilot from world war i that were within world war ii too, but i can't think of his fellow. >> i can only say briefly, paris
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to the war was a much more liberated city as far as race goes, i would say, than much of the united states and josephine baker is an example of someone who did not have the challenges she would have had in the united states and as far as african-american soldiers in world war ii the army was still segregated at the time serving in various units and most of you are probably familiar with the tus keegee airmen, a segregated unit who had a record in fighting fighter support for american bombers. a number of african-american veterans from world war i served in world war ii, as well, but again, still facing the segregation that they had experienced in the u.s. army in world war i. so that's about the best i can do on that question. anything else?
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anything else? sir? >> how tall was de gaulle? [ laughter ] >> how tall was de gaulle? >> his -- the nickname that the americans gave him was -- two meters. he was about 6'6". and so in the video we saw he wasn't standing on a platform or anything, he was simply that much taller than most of the other people so he was quite a tall individual. yes, sir? >> what was hitler's response when he learned that the destruction of paris had not taken place? >> furious. >> furious. he expected that cole would carry out those orders and being taken prisoner to going back to germany, being taken prisoner was the best choice and he was
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furious and there was nothing else he could do, and there wasn't much from that point forward. y ma'am? >> i just wanted to make a comment we were in paris, the host country for a 16-day trip four years ago, and you cannot believe how many times we were stopped and said thank you for what you did for us during world war ii. i mean, a lot of times especially in the small villages. it was amazing. i was amazed. which i would concur with that. we here in the united states don't often have the best impression of france and the french. and i've been to france quite a bit, and i've been to normandy a dozen times and this year i got to take some of our students from the staff college over there, and in paris i've met some rude people. i've met some rude people in
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kansas city, too. [ laughter ] >> but for the most part even in paris, when i would take undergraduate civilian students any number of times my students would tell me somebody stop and asked if they can find what they were looking for, and my experience has been the same. in normandy, when you go to normandy there are american, british and french flags everywhere in just about every trip and someone has done something to myself or a member of my group thanking the united states for the contributions to the war. so i agree. i confirm your experiences very much. yes, ma'am? >> i was just wondering did hitler ever actually go to paris? >> did hitler ever go to paris? he did. the spring -- late spring, early summer of 1940 he went to paris and i will bet you, everybody in
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this room did what hitler did when he went to paris. he had a picture made with the eiffel tower in the background, exactly what hitler did when he went to paris. it's a most people that go to the opposite side of the seine river and you can do a picture next to hitler's. so he did the tourist thing and that was as far as i know the only time he went to paris and he did travel to paris to sort out the conquering hero and then he went back to germany. good question. good question. all right, if anybody has other questions i'll stick around for a little bit. thank you again for your continuous support and for something out tonight. have a good rest of the week. [ applause ]
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