Paris – Saturday, 08/24/2019 | Updated 08/26/2019 – 00:49
Allied troops parade through Paris after the liberation of the French capital, on August 26, 1944. / AFP
A mural by Granada-born artist Juan Chica Ventura reconstructs the path followed by the tanks of the Ninth company of the Armored Division of General Leclerc when, on the night of August 24, 1944, his men were the first to enter Paris to free the French capital from the Nazi occupation.
It was ‘La Nueve’, made up of 150 Spanish Republicans exiled from Francoism whom French official history has long forgotten. Seventy-five years later, the fresco inaugurated this Saturday at number 20 of Esquirol Street in Paris, in the presence of the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and the Minister of Justice, Dolores Delgado, pays tribute to them coinciding with the commemorative events of the ephemeris.
“They gave their lives for freedom and for the democratic values we enjoy today”, said the minister at the inauguration. Delgado has also highlighted the importance that the Government of Pedro Sánchez attaches to historical memory. “Sometimes it is difficult to change the historical account but, little by little, it is making its way”, she added.
“Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! but Paris freed by itself”. The famous words of General de Gaulle obviated the contribution of numerous foreigners in liberation, including the Spaniards.
The big driver
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, of Cadiz origin and granddaughter of Republicans, has been the main driver of the French recognition of ‘La Nueve’ in recent years. Hidalgo is to be credited with the initiative to create a garden next to the magnificent palace that occupies the town hall that is named ‘Jardin de los combatientes de La Nueve’ to rescue the memory of the heroic advance party that liberated Paris.
“Most of the men who made up ‘La Nueve’ were under 20 years old when in 1936 they took up arms for the first time to defend the Spanish Republic. None knew then that those who survived would no longer abandon them until eight years later and that on the night of August 24, 1944 they would be the first to liberate Paris”, recalls writer and journalist Evelyn Mesquida in ‘La Nueve, the Spaniards who liberated Paris ‘, reference work on the role of the Spaniards in that feat.
This Sunday, August 25, which is when France officially celebrates Liberation Day, tribute will be paid to the second armored division at the Orléans Gate, the same through which they entered the capital followed by a ‘parade of freedom’ to Denfert Rochereau square.
Two heroic figures
There, where the headquarters of Colonel Rol Tanguy, head of the French Interior Forces, was located, the Museum of the Liberation of Paris will be officially inaugurated, which gathers the history of this deed and two heroic figures of World War II: Philippe Leclerc and Jean Moulin.
Following the common thread of these two characters, the museum pays tribute to the memory of the men and women who participated in the Resistance.
Without waiting for the arrival of the allies who had landed two months earlier in Normandy, Paris revolted in August 1944 after four years of German occupation. On August 25 and after a week of strikes, barricades and fighting in the streets, General De Gaulle arrived in the capital and proclaimed: “Paris released”. The battle of the capital did take the lives of about a thousand members of the Resistance, 130 soldiers of the Second Division and about 600 civilians.