Although World War II and the German occupation of Paris occurred more than 75 years ago, these historical events are still fresh in our minds. France spent almost 40 years denying its role in the collaboration with the Nazis and in particular, the deportation of the French Jewish population. While the Nazi occupation of Paris started out rather benignly in June 1940, within two years the city and its citizens were firmly in the grip of the tightening Nazi vise.
WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT?
You will visit the buildings, places, and sites that were significant to the German occupation between June 1940 and August 1944. By the end of the first day of occupation (14 June) it was clear the Germans knew their way around Paris. Almost overnight every German military, administrative, and political entity had moved into their new quarters. Subsequent to Hitler’s election in 1933, the pre-war German Abwehr (intelligence) in Paris had clearly mapped out potential sites to be requisitioned for an eventual occupation.
WHY WOULD YOU BUY MY BOOK?
There are three basic reasons why you might consider this book.
First, you may have been to Paris several times and you’re looking for something new to do. You have an interest in World War II and in particular, the occupation years of Paris.
Second, there really aren’t any books quite like this one. It is well researched and pinpoints the significant buildings that played an important role during the Occupation and immediately after the Liberation.
Third and probably the most important reason, I will introduce you to people you’ve probably never heard of. These include the Résistants (French resistance members), Collabos (collaborationists), Germans, and the victims, just to name a few. You will learn about their stories: some heroic and some sad.
LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO:
THE STREET OF HORRORS The avenue where the Gestapo and most of the Nazi police and intelligence agencies were located. You did not want to find yourself “invited” into one of these buildings.
JACQUES THE RIPPER You’ll visit the site where the French serial killer, Marcel Petiot, killed his victims in the basement
and burned their bodies in two coal furnaces. His trial defense was that he was a member of a resistance network and all the victims were German sympathizers. He was guillotined in May 1946.
THE GERMAN EMBASSY The German ambassador, Otto Abetz, and his wife held court here during the Occupation. However, the building had a pre-war event that set off the infamous Jewish pogrom we know as Krystallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass). On 7 November 1938, a young Polish Jewish immigrant, Herschel Grynszpan, walked into the German embassy and shot and killed one of the embassy officials. Two nights later, Hitler used this as an excuse to set off Krystallnacht where windows of Jewish businesses, buildings, and synagogues were broken.
LE MEURICE Today, the Hôtel Meurice stands as one of the top-rated hotels in Paris. During the Occupation, the German military governor in charge of Paris made this his headquarters. During the last days of the Occupation, General Dietrich von Choltitz disobeyed Hitler’s orders to destroy Paris and ultimately surrendered the city to the Allies. You can see bullet holes above the front entrance.
PICASSO’S HIDEOUT Picasso essentially rode out the war and the Occupation in his apartment. It is open to visitors but not too many people are aware of the apartment and its history.
These are just a few of the interesting sites and people I will introduce you to.
Copyright © 2017 Stew Ross