Until today, I had always thought that Hitler had given orders not to destroy Paris, after the Germans conquered France during World War II.
Today, I was watching Fox News, when I heard some news about the attack in Paris last night. I heard a reporter say that Hitler had famously said “Is Paris burning?”
I rushed to my computer to look it up. I found this quote on Wikipedia:
A popular account holds that Hitler phoned [Dietrich Hugo Hermann] von Choltitz a week later at his headquarters in the Hôtel Meurice, in a rage, screaming, “Brennt Paris?” (“Is Paris burning?”) By another account, the question was addressed to Hitler’s Chief of Staff, Generaloberst Alfred Jodl, on 25 August at the Wolf’s Lair: “Jodl, is Paris burning?”
I also found the following information at
General der Infanterie Dietrich Hugo Hermann von Choltitz (9 November 1894 – 4 November 1966) was a German career military officer who served in the Imperial German Army during World War I and the Wehrmacht during World War II. He is chiefly remembered for his role as the last commander of Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, wherein he disobeyed Hitler’s orders to level the city, but instead surrendered it to Free French forces. He was hailed in many contemporary accounts as the “Saviour of Paris” for not allowing it to be destroyed.
Von Choltitz later asserted that his defiance of Hitler’s direct order stemmed from its obvious military futility, his affection for the French capital’s history and culture, and the realization that Hitler had by then become completely insane.
After France surrendered in World War II, the French continued to fight in the French Resistance. I wrote about this on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Natzweiler/History/FrenchResistance.html
The following quote is from my website:
The French resistance fighters blew up bridges, derailed trains, directed the British in the bombing of German troop trains, kidnapped and killed German army officers, and ambushed German troops. They took no prisoners, but rather killed any German soldiers who surrendered to them, sometimes mutilating their bodies for good measure. The Nazis referred to them as “terrorists.”
The fact that the French continued to fight, during World War II, as illegal combatants might be what angered Hitler to the point where he wanted to burn Paris.
This quote is also from my website:
In the days immediately following the Normandy invasion, the FFI, or the French Forces of the Interior, became a French Army under the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) commanded by General Eisenhower, who unilaterally informed the Germans that the French resistance fighters were to be regarded as legal combatants. Eisenhower authorized a French combat division to be commanded by General Jacques-Philippe Leclerc. This division was called the 2nd Armored Division, but it was more commonly known as Division Leclerc. De Gaulle contacted the Communist resistance in Paris and unilaterally informed them that Division Leclerc would be the liberators of Paris.
Meanwhile, Hitler was holed up in his Berlin bunker and he had seemingly gone mad; he ordered the destruction of Paris rather than surrender it to the Allies. His generals ignored this order and Paris was saved.
Eisenhower had finally agreed that the 2nd Armored Division should lead the liberation of Paris with the US Fourth Infantry Division providing backup. Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944; Charles de Gaulle rode into Paris in triumph, holding up his arms, spread wide in a V for victory sign.