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“Paris is a scarred city”: 75 years on from the liberation of Paris from the Nazis

In the city’s Latin Quarter, now home to students and tourists visiting its beauty spots, University of Kent lecturer Perrin explained that residents built barricades and entered into fire-fights with Nazi troops as the liberation got underway on August 19, 1944.

Bullet holes are still visible across the river at Paris’ town hall, where Nazi tanks fired on the building after it was taken over by French Resistance fighters, and Nazi snipers fired on celebrating crowds after the city’s liberation.

At Place de la Concorde in the city centre, where French Resistance leader Charles De Gaulle held a victory parade once the city was freed, memorials to the many civilians and soldiers who died during the liberation can be seen amongst the modern day bustle.

Many locations in the city looked dramatically different in 1944. Hotel Notre Dame in the Latin Quarter suffered severe damage during the six day battle of the liberation, but stands restored today. And Rue de Rivoli, where Nazi flags were once flown from buildings, was the site of Charles de Gaulle’s victory parade in 1944, and is now an upmarket shopping street.

For budding historians keen to find signs of the liberation fighting around Paris, Perrin’s advice is to look up. “Paris is a scarred city, and you will see the signs of wartime damage, of occupation and liberation fighting going on all around the city. You just have to look up.”

(Production: Kathryn Carlson, Thierry Chiarello)

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