The Liberation of Paris August 25, 1944

The Normandy Breakout had smashed the German Seventh Army, and the Allies advanced on Paris.

The French capital had been occupied for four years, and most Americans associated German occupation with a romantic picture of Parisians struggling against German oppression. In reality, the Vichy Government helped the Germans to send thousands of Jews to concentration camps, and hundreds of thousands of laborers to Germany to work in war production as slave labor. By 1945 most slave laborers were French; the Poles had died out.

For the German occupiers, Paris was a wonderful duty to draw. Dozens of movie houses, burlesque theatres, and dance halls were available to them. Allied bombing struck in the industrialized suburbs, but not the city itself. The gaiety masked terror and repression by the Gestapo and the SS.

After 1941 the Communists rose against the Germans and formed the core of the resistance movements. The effectiveness of the resistance prior to the Normandy invasion is debatable, but they captured weapons and organized to help the Allies. By 1944 the black market was thriving and many poorer Parisians were priced out of the market. Hunger and disease rose, and many more men and women joined the resistance.