The Liberation of Paris

…After checking-in, we were sent to the Hôtel du Louvre to spend what was left of the night. It was absurd, but here in the midst of destruction was this comfortable hotel with hot and cold running water, and big, high-ceilinged rooms, each with French doors, drapes, and a balcony. Just for a moment it was like pre-war Paris. (J. Rorimer, 47)

Hôtel du Louvre

Hôtel du Louvre

Although I'm not staying at the Hôtel du Louvre, my room does have high ceilings, drapes and a balcony!

Although I’m not staying at the Hôtel du Louvre, my room does have high ceilings, drapes and a balcony!

After breakfast…I crossed the Rue de Rivoli for a walk through the Tuileries to the Louvre. Each hour brought more Parisians to the streets. By and large, the rejoicing over our arrival was so real and unconditional that almost everyone, except those actively engaged in immediate combat problems, momentarily ignored the need for facing realities. Champagne flowed from bottles which had been artfully concealed form the Germans. We were witnessing a turning point in the fortunes of a great nation after four years of enslavement. For the French, August 26th is as memorable as the day that Joan of Arc rode into Orléans, or the day the French stormed the Bastille… In the offices of the Louvres nothing much seemed changed from the last time I had been there five years before, until I looked out of the window and saw hundreds of captured German soldiers coralled in the courtyard, and American anti-aircraft equipment being set up on the grounds.

I crossed Rue de Rivoli several times this afternoon!

I made sure to cross the Rue de Rivoli today!

As the monuments specialist officer for Paris it was my responsibility to advise the Commanding General of Seine Section and his Assistant Chief of Staff, G-5, in all matters pertaining to the art and culture of this metropolis and the surrounding Ile de France. I had to promote our relations with the French, to see that they helped themselves, to get them to help carry out our program, and to report my findings and actions taken by our command through technical channels to SHAEF… Early the next morning I stepped out onto the balcony and breathed the almost palpable atmosphere of Paris. Below me stood the Louvre and the Palais Royal (J. Rorimer, 48-49).

Louvre

Louvre, 2014

Palais Royal

Palais Royal

Using my grandfather’s descriptions as a guide, I walked around the center of Paris today. My friend has joined me here, and we realized after we took this picture that we had been standing in the courtyard of the Louvre on the same ground as the German soldiers!

Courtyard at the Louvre

Courtyard at the Louvre

One month later, on September 25th, my grandfather wrote home about the liberation of Paris.

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