France: Two Decades

"Paris! Paris ravaged! Paris crushed! Paris martyred! But Paris free!"

It was Charles de Gaulle speaking—lean, his face scarcely lined—at the Hotel de Ville. That moment of triumph, 20 years ago, was surrounded by a good deal of squabbling. General Jacques Leclerc's French 2nd Armored Division, which had received reluctant approval from the Allied high command to advance on Paris, had got bogged down but reached the city ahead of the Americans anyway, making the Liberation, at least in appearance, a feat of French arms. Right behind the troops came De Gaulle,...

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