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Paris celebrates 75th anniversary of liberation from Nazis

August 25, 2019

Exactly 75 years ago, French resistance fighters, US soldiers and others freed Paris from years of Nazi occupation. The City of Light is marking the event with a parade — tracing the path tanks took when they arrived.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo attends a ceremony at the base of the Eiffel Tower to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Paris
Image: Getty Images/AFP/Z. Abdelkafi

Paris is marking the 75th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi German occupation on Sunday with a parade and ceremonies across the city.

French Resistance fighters, Allied troops, Spanish republican exiles and others are being honored for their part in freeing the city during World War II.

A parade will retrace the path that French and American tanks took when they entered southern Paris on August 25, 1945.

Read more: At end of WWII, 'entire families committed suicide'

Later on Sunday, firefighters will raise a French flag on the Eiffel Tower, remembering the moment 75 years ago when a tricolor flag sewn together from sheets was flown atop the monument — replacing the swastika flag of occupying Nazi Germany that had flown there for four years.

In a ceremony on Saturday, Paris' Spanish-born mayor, Anne Hidalgo, paid tribute to the Spanish republican exiles who were part of the first unit to enter the city on August 24, 1944.

Inaugurating a mural in their honor was "a way of commemorating how foreigners, and Spanish people, took part in the liberation of our city and our country," said Hidalgo, accompanied by Spanish Justice Minister Dolores Delgado.

Read more: Warsaw Uprising: Germany's guilt, shame and atonement

Paris went 'wildly, violently mad with happiness'

The fight for Paris began with a Resistance-led uprising on August 19, 1944. Allied troops entered the city on August 24, and the German military commander of Paris officially surrendered on August 25.

To mark the anniversary, The Associated Press republished its report on the liberation written by reporter Don Whitehead, who witnessed it firsthand.

"But when the last enemy resistance crumbled at the gate to Paris, then this heart of France went mad — wildly, violently mad with happiness," Whitehead wrote.

"Never do I expect to see such scenes as I saw on the streets of Paris. There was only a narrow lane through which the armor could roll. Men and women cried with joy. They grabbed the arms and hands of soldiers and cheered until their voices were hoarse," he said.

Although the fight to free the French capital was faster than the Allies' battles in Normandy, it was still chaotic and violent, killing an estimated 5,000 people.

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rs/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)

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