August 25, 1944 – World War II: Liberation of Paris from German occupation

August 25, 1944 – World War II: Liberation of Paris from German occupation

On August 25, 1944, Free French divisions march into Paris followed by the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division.

In spite of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s orders to burn the city to the ground, German resistance was light, and a quick surrender was negotiated. The French capital had fallen to German forces on June 14, 1940, two weeks after the Allied defenders of Europe were evacuated from Dunkirk to Britain.

One week later, French Premier Henri Pétain signed an armistice with the Nazis. Elsewhere, however, General Charles de Gaulle and the Free French kept fighting, and on August 25, 1944, they entered Paris in triumph. The next day, de Gaulle led a joyous liberation march down the Champs d’Elysees. He became head of the French provincial government, but resigned in 1946. From 1958 to 1969, de Gaulle served as French president under the Fifth Republic.