Two YANK MAGAZINE reporters rode into Paris behind the first tank of the Second French Armored Division, following the story of the city's liberation in their recently liberated German jeep. Here is a picture of Paris and the reaction of Parisians to their first breath of free air in four years.
"As they caught site of the American flag on our car, people crowded around and almost smothered us with kisses..."
*Color Film Footage: D-Day through the Liberation of Paris*
"The capital of France, as of September 1944, is not the same nervous, triumphant paradise city that it was when the Allies first made their entry."
"The welcome has died down. When you enter the town, today, whether on foot or in a car, everyone is glad to see you, but there are no more mob scenes of riotous greeting exploding around each jeep. Shows are opening again, and the people are beginning to breathe easier...On the other side, Parisians appear as a very grateful but proud and self-reliant population."
Attached is a four page article that reported on the deserters of the U.S. Army who organized themselves into Chicago-style gangs in post-occupied Paris, replete with gun-molls, hideouts, fencing contacts and all the trimmings of a third-rate-blood-and-thunder detective story.
Published in the STARS AND STRIPES issue marked August 19, 1944 (the official date of the Paris liberation) was the attached notice concerning the hasty disappearance of the Nazi-collaborators who lorded over the French during the occupation:
"Laval, Darnand and other Vichyites fled from Paris to Metz, according to a United Press report quoting a French resistance leader who reached the British front from Paris. The whereabouts of Marshal Petain were not known."
YANK correspondent Saul Levitt was eyewitness to all the merriment that kicked-in when Paris was liberated. Regardless of the gaiety, he could not forget all the American blood that had so liberally been spilled during the previous weeks:
"Despite all the bottles of champagne, all the tears, and all the kisses, it is impossible for those of us who are here to forget that we are here for the men of the American divisions who died or were wounded on the way to Paris... for all of those men who started out toward Paris but are not here to see it. We are here for the men of the 48 states who dream of home, and for whom the freeing of Paris is the way home."
Click here to read about the celebrations that took place in Paris the day World War One ended.
In Nazi occupied Paris there was a secret underground movie theater (93 Champs Elysees) operating throughout the entire four year period and it charged an excessive sum of francs to gain entry. Guess which Chaplin film was shown?
*Watch a Quick Clip from that Movie...*