Paris during the Nazi-occupation: Life as usual, collaboration or resistance?
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
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"Diary of a French Girl" - Living in Paris during the Nazi-occupation
In "Diary of a French Girl" Jacqueline Mallen reveals what it was like to grow up and live in Nazi-occupied Paris, during the Second World War and its aftermath.
On one occasion Mallen was waiting for a train when she noticed a parachute floating down close to a German encampment. Soon, she spotted a man wearing leather jacket and boots. "I came to him and said `Are you an American pilot?` He nodded and I said take off your jacket and take off your boots because no one in France wears leather jackets or boots. I took him to where there was a group of young people so he would blend in."
And the Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alan Riding (book review)
In what was one of the darkest period in the history of France, the theaters, cinemas and cabarets in Paris never slowed down. During the 4 years in which France was under Nazi occupation, artists painted; musicians performed; and authors, poets and playwrights produced work at a pace that reflected Paris`s fame as a cultural beacon. It was in the interest of both conqueror and vanquished that the French cultural life flourished: For the Nazi occupiers the activities offered a distraction for the Parisians and themselves, while for the French it offered a source of pride after the Wehrmacht had walked over the French Armies.
American WWII veteran returns huge 12-meter French war flag he looted from Paris
On the day Paris was liberated from the Nazis in 1944, an American soldier looted a souvenir of epic size: He seized the French 12-meter (13-yard) flag that hung from the Arc de Triomphe, a symbol of the end of 4 years of struggle. Now the anonymous U.S. veteran - too ashamed to come forward - has returned the flag to Paris. "If an American GI wanted to take home a souvenir, I`d say there was nothing reprehensible about that, it`s an act you can easily understand," said French historian Christine Levisse-Touze, who added that the flag seems to be the real thing, based on the archive footage.
Second World War fashions on display in Paris
Women in Paris never abandoned on elegance during the Second World WAr. 300 fashion accessories and WW2 objects will be on display at an exhibition that is a testimonial to fashion ingenuity against a backdrop of poverty and restrictions of 1940-1944. Held at the Mémorial du Marechal Leclerc de Hauteclocque et de la Libération de Paris – Musée Jean Moulin (twin museums dedicated to the history of the French Resistance and of the liberation of Paris) the exhibition showcases items ranging from the homespun to the high-end designer.
Nazi Occupation: I’ve never had so much fun in my life. Those nights were fantastic
An unusual WW2 book focuses on French women who slept with the enemy during the Nazi occupation. Patrick Buisson depicts the Nazi-era as the "golden age" of the French brothel. The book, 1940-1945, Erotic Years attacks the myth that life under the Nazi boot was all resistance and suffering. Handsome Nazi officers with good manners won admirers in a country whose natives were rude with prostitutes. Fabienne Jamet recalls: "I`ve never had so much fun in my life. Those nights of the occupation were fantastic." There were about 100,000 French women seeking favours from the Nazis just in Paris - crushed when the Germans left.
Black WW2 heroes deliberately removed from the unit that liberated Paris
WW2 papers reveal that Allied commanders ensured that the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 was seen as a "whites only" victory. Many fought Nazi Germany to defeat the racism that left millions of Jews dead. Yet the black colonial soldiers, 2/3 of Free French forces, were removed from the unit that led the Allied advance in Paris. Charles de Gaulle wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris, and Allied High Command agreed on one condition: De Gaulle`s division must not have any black soldiers. Dwight Eisenhower`s Chief of Staff, Major General Walter Bedell Smith wrote: "It is more desirable that the division ... consist of white personnel."
Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation 1940-44 by Charles Glass
Before World War II Paris had the largest number of expatriate Americans in Europe - 30,000. With the Nazi invasion, most chose to leave, but 3,000 chose, or were had, to stay on and stick it out. All went well until Dec. 1941, but when Adolf Hitler declared war on U.S. 4 days after Pearl Harbor, the Americans went from being neutrals to enemy aliens. The most baffling figure in Glass`s researches is American multimillionaire Charles Bedaux. Using his business links, he was able to consort both with the Vichy regime and Nazi officials. His car had a WH numberplate, letters used by the occupying Nazi forces.
Color photos of nazi-occupied Paris reveal the happy life and collaboration
"Parisians under the Occupation" -exhibition of rare color photos of occupied Paris has created a controversy, as it shows too happy a picture of life under the Nazis. Paris deputy mayor Christophe Girard has proposed shutting down the show by French photographer Andre Zucca. Photography was not allowed in WWII Paris, but Zucca got permits from his employer, the Nazi propaganda magazine Signal. The happy-go-lucky shots show a grande dame on a shopping promenade, sunbathers along Seine, chic youths flirting and families spending a day at the races - life going on as normal in a city valued by the Nazis.
Paris exhibit looks at relationships and sex in wartime (Article no longer available from the original source)
Everybody knows the photo of the sailor sweeping a nurse into his arms in Times Square - maybe the most emblematic image of love and war. But what about the private mementoes, tucked into pockets and treasured in the trenches and battlefields? Soldiers, both German and French, sculpted engagement rings out of melted shrapnel. Some French WW1 soldiers inscribed declarations of love onto autumn leaves. Exhibit "Love, War and Sexuality" at Les Invalides in Paris examines the impact of the two world wars on relationships and sexuality. In one gallery, there are soldiers` sexy pinups, and a life-size painting of a topless blond that decorated a Nazi bunker.
The hidden truth of Liberation of Paris - and poor allied infantry
Months before D-Day, American and British commanders decided that only French troops who were white could take part in the operation to liberate Paris. General Philippe Leclerc`s armoured division was chosen because it was the "only French division which could be made 100% white". All other units in the French army were two thirds or more African. A book by historian Olivier Wieviorka reveals the depths of the crisis which threatened to disable the Allied armies in Normandy after the landings on 6 June 1944. At one point 1/3 "wounded" American soldiers suffered from psychological, not physical, injuries. British infantry fighting spirit was equally poor.