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Photos of the liberation of Paris in 1944

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 25, 2004

Photos of the liberation of Paris in 1944. Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation.

Reader comments

MattAug 25, 2004 at 11:33AM

Extremely moving photos.

It’s a tough thing, reconciling what really, up until this point, has been a spirit of cooperation between the US and France with the current state of Franco-American relations. France helped us win the American Revolution; we freed France and along with the rest of the Allied and Soviet forces, defended the world against a Nazi bid at world domination.

Now of course, the average Frenchman on the street hates the average American, or at least considers them stupid and gullible. I used to think that the cliches about French snobbery were hyperbole, until I actually spent a week in Versailles and Paris. Granted, Versailles was nice enough, but in Paris the condescension was around us everywhere we went.

And no, I was not roaming the Parisian streets shouting “VOULEZ VOUS FRENCH FRIES HAHA” in my hawaiian shirt and black socks/Birkenstock combo. I speak French, but all it takes is the American accent to get a peer over the nose.

Anyway, the bigger point is that part of me thinks the French are a bunch of ungrateful hosebags for hating America now, considering what really is an enormous debt recorded for posterity in the cemeteries of Normandie. The other part however realizes that no debt lasts forever, certainly when it was incurred by those two or three generations prior.

SuzynAug 25, 2004 at 12:28PM

That final picture by Henri Cartier-Bresson is magnificant—it’s a well thought out series: all of the energy and passion, destruction and rage and then this picture of a city washed clean, peaceful, back to whatever normal was. It’s very moving.

SunnyAug 25, 2004 at 8:46PM

There is a famous line attributed President Johnson which really sums up this issue.

Charles de Gaulle had been quoted as wanting the American soldiers to leave the French shores. Johnson’s reaction was “Does that include the thousands buried in Normandy?”

I am not sure whether they should feel indebted. All I know is that without Allied support they would be speaking German.

r-wonderAug 26, 2004 at 2:29AM

Makes me wonder how 2063 will see 2003.

AaronAug 26, 2004 at 9:31AM

Without French support we’d still be a colony. Tit for tat, both sides need to get it together.

Tommy, UKSep 16, 2004 at 4:01AM

For more representative pictures (which don’t gloss over the part played in the liberation by the ordinary Parisiens organised by the FFI - Forces Francais d’Interieur ) visit http://www.prefecture-police-paris.interieur.gouv.fr/documentation/dossiers/liberation/intro.htm and click on the tick at bottom left.

This is part of a stunning exhibition currently being hosted across Paris; until you’ve seen it you’re not entitled to criticise.

Vive la France and God Bless America.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.