Qioptiq logo Raytheon

ON THIS DAY

25 August 1944: Paris is liberated as Germans surrender. After four years under German occupation, Paris is now free. Last night, the French 2nd Armoured Division under General Philippe Leclerc was the first Allied force to enter the city, greeted by loud cheers from Parisians after many days of fighting between the Resistance and the German occupiers. The new Free French wireless station reported the German commander of the Paris region, General Dietrich vonCholtitz, signed a surrender at Montparnasse station in front of General Leclerc and Colonel Rol, commander of the Forces Francaises de l’Interieur (FFI ) in the Paris region. Colonel Rol praised the Resistance forces that fought the occupying Germans and opened the way for the Allies to enter the capital. At 1900 local time, General Charles de Gaulle – leader of the Free French who has been living in exile in London since the Fall of France in 1940 – entered the city. In a broadcast to the nation from the Hotel de Ville he said: “I wish simply from the bottom of my heart to say to you: Vive Paris!” “We are here in Paris – Paris which stood erect and rose in order to free herself. Paris oppressed, downtrodden and martyred but still Paris – free now, freed by the hands of Frenchmen, the capital of Fighting France, France the great eternal.” He said the French could now stand up as a great world power and would not rest until the enemy had been defeated on its own territory. This evening French, American and Senegalese troops marched triumphantly down the Champs Elysee to ecstatic cheers of Parisians, young and old. But celebrations were brought to a swift halt by sniper fire from German troops and French Fascists. The battle for Paris is not quite over and tonight, as the French 2nd Armoured Division reached the Porte d’Orleans district in the south of Paris, the FFI are still fighting German soldiers and taking prisoners. Earlier today, Canadian and British forces joined up with American troops on the left bank of the River Seine south of Rouen. And on the French coast, Honfleur has been captured by the Allies. In the south of France, Americans have taken Cannes and Grasse, the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes. (Source: BBC)

21 August 1968: Russia brings winter to ‘Prague Spring’. Dozens of people have been killed in a massive military clampdown in Czechoslovakia by five Warsaw Pact countries. Several members of the liberal Czechoslovak leadership have been arrested, including Prime Minister Alexander Dubcek. The Soviet news agency, Tass, claims “assistance” was requested by members of the Czechoslovak Government and Communist party leaders to fight “counter-revolutionary forces”. But in a secret radio address, Czechoslovak President Ludvik Svoboda condemned the occupation by Warsaw Pact allies as illegal and committed without the government’s consent. US President Lyndon Johnson said the invasion was a clear violation of the United Nations Charter and that the excuses offered by the Soviet Union were “patently contrived”. “It is a sad commentary on the communist mind that a sign of liberty in Czechoslovakia is deemed a fundamental threat to the security of the Soviet system,” he said. The Czechoslovak authorities have ordered their vastly outnumbered army not to fight and are appealing to the public for restraint. Czechoslovakia’s abortive path to freedom began when Mr Dubcek, a Slovak, became Communist Party leader in January. A programme of wide-ranging democratic reforms had been gathering pace in the face of Soviet disapproval and the rebirth of social and political freedom became known as the “Prague Spring”. In the capital of Prague today, crowds of people gathered in the streets chanting support for Mr Dubcek and imploring the foreign troops to go home. Much of the resistance was centred around the Prague radio station. As the day progressed, Czechoslovak youths threw home-made missiles and even tried to take on Russian tanks. Reports say some tanks and ammuniti

Back to article list