PARIS: Flag-waving Parisians in period costume thronged the streets Sunday as armoured vehicles rumbled through the city in a re-enactment of the liberation of the capital from Nazi Germany 75 years ago.
A column of military vehicles entered the city from the south, using the same route taken by the first Allied division – led by French General Philippe Leclerc – to reach the city in August 1944.
To try and recreate the scenes of rejoicing that their arrival triggered, some residents and business owners along the route decorated their balconies and shopfronts with French flags.
Some participants in the “Freedom Parade” also gamely answered a call by the city of Paris to sport 1940s garb – high-waisted skirts for the women, and trousers with braces and berets for the men.
Rene Gonin, a 99-year-old retired mason, recalled the long wait for the Allied forces to arrive – and the ensuing euphoria when they rolled in, with women clambering onto tanks to offer roses to the soldiers and crowds dancing in the streets through the night.
“People were acting like crazy … There was an incredible atmosphere,” he told AFP.
A week before the Allies arrived in Paris, Resistance members had already launched a bid for freedom, erecting barricades and carrying out attacks on German troops, triggering bloody street clashes.
Nearly 1,000 Resistance members, 130 Allied troops and around 600 civilians were killed in the week of fighting that led up to the surrender of German forces on Aug 25, 1944.
A new museum on the Nazi occupation and liberation of Paris was inaugurated Sunday in the south of city.