Wednesday, August 25, 2004

60 Years Ago Today

BBC Paris Correspondent Alan Little:
[...] the Paris uprising did not begin in earnest until the people of Paris could hear the guns of the approaching Americans in the west.

By the time the people took to the barricades, the approach of the Allies made liberation a near certainty.

What mattered was who should liberate.

There is not much doubt that Paris would have been liberated within days even if there had been no popular uprising.

But France needed a redeeming event to restore French pride, to wipe away the stain of 1940: the surrender, and the years of collaboration that followed.

The founding myth of Gaullist France was that France redeemed itself by liberating itself.

So the version of events that France celebrates this week is one in which the role of the Allies is almost invisible.


But just because the uprising was later mythologised, it does not mean the uprising was a myth.

In those 10 days, 1,600 died.

All over the city there are little stone plaques recording the places where resistance fighters fell in the 10-day uprising of August 1944.

Their courage was not myth.

Whatever their motivation, their example restored French pride and helped a humiliated people draw a line under the horrors of the occupation - and move forward.

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