Every year on August 25, France celebrates the liberation from German occupation in 1944 at the close of WWII. This year, Paris will host a light and music show at the Hotel de Ville, in the open square outside of the city’s town hall. Following the light show, the square will transform into a massive dance floor. This will be a night of celebration!
For this year, the 70th anniversary, President Francois Hollande is expected to attend, along with other government and Military representatives.
In the early days of photojournalism, Magnum photographer Robert Capa captured scenes from the days leading up to and after the liberation. Below are a few from that collection of images. It seems foreign to look at Paris under the stress of war, but also wonderful to see the celebratory faces and crowds in the streets that are so familiar and unchanged even today.
Paris. August 26th, 1944. Crowd on the pavement after snipers in buildings overlooking the Place de l’Hotel de Ville opened fire on the celebrations after the liberation.
Paris. August 25th, 1944. French troops being welcomed during the liberation of the city.
Paris. 8th arrondissement. Champs-Elysées. August 26th, 1944. Members of the French Resistance and soldiers of the French Army celebrating the liberation of the city.
August 25th, 1944. German soldiers surrender to French Resistance fighters during the liberation of the city.
To see our apartments located near Hotel de Ville:
Two bedroom Loft at Saint Paul
Ile Saint Louis Studio
Three bedroom, Air Conditioned Quai de Montebello apartment
An old French couple, M. and Mme. Baloux of Brieulles-sur-Bar, France, under German occupation for four years, greeting soldiers of the 308th and 166th Infantries upon their arrival during the American advance.
In commemoration of the centennial of World War I, a series of cultural events will be taking place in France throughout the year, beginning this January 2014. Through exhibits of photography and newspaper cartoons, conferences and open-air installations, the events are designed to educate and remind French citizens as well as visitors of the impact the war had on the capitol as well as France’s other effected regions. The events planned in Paris specifically shed light on the city’s evolution through its historical struggles and re-emergence. The evidence of conflict now blends into the landscape of the city, but if you know what you are looking for you can learn the stories behind them, and gain a whole new appreciation for Paris and it’s coming of age into modernization.
Below are some examples of what’s in store on the schedule, with links to take you to further details (although some in French, so have your translators ready!)
The Bibliotheque Municipale de la Ville de Paris: Photography exhibit of daily life during the war, taken by Charles Lansiaux. Lansiaux’s photographs span the years of the war from battles to victory. And all throughout he captures the human side of the conflict, focusing on gestures and expressions of individuals rather than war scene tableaus. His work is one of the first examples of the kind of photojournalism we have become accustomed to in the news coverage of conflicts today. Jan 15- June 15
Paris 1900 : The City of Spectacle. Rather than focus on the years of the war, this exhibit at the Petit Palais will focus on the years before, the reconstruction, and the modernization of Paris. It promises to show many scenes throughout the 1900s that seem far away from life as we know it now, but also the restraint through restoration that left us with many familiarities as the city came into its own through industrialization. April 2 -August 17
At the square of the Hotel de Ville, an outdoor installation will present two maps comparing Paris of 1914 and 2014. The maps will show historical differences in the city and the region from then to now. They will also show the locations of fortifications in and around the city, so you can visit them and see evidence of Paris at war, a hundred years later. June 15-July 1
…And lots more!
Here is a link to a Telegraph article full of history and information:
And for French speakers, you can learn more about the Paris events from this schedule and this video– or just turn off the sound and watch the photo montage!