Wehrmacht troops marching on Champs-Élysées in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe decorated by a colossal swastika flag: on June 14, 1940, Germans occupied the City of Light without firing a single shot. Paris, which was declared an open city, had never before been so silent, cold and uninterested than it was that day. The shame of the French might have been the most uplifting moment in Hitler’s life. Bells of the German churches rang for 15 minutes, not to mention the oceans of swastika flags which decorated the houses and buildings throughout the Third Reich for three days.
Germany attacked France on May 10, 1940. To the surprise of the German officers, the Wehrmacht could penetrate into the heart of France without meeting significant resistance. The souls of the French were still totally immersed in the horror of the First World War, so most of the French troops resignedly surrendered without a serious fight. By the end of 1940, an estimated 1.8 million French soldiers were taken prisoner by the Germans.
Before the Wehrmacht entered the capital, nearly 2 million Parisians had left the city along with the French government. The famous hotels of Paris soon became home to the officers of the Wehrmacht. However, the invaders could not enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of Paris. German troops had to follow strict regulations: singing, dancing, and smoking were banned in public places; they were not allowed to swim in the Seine or to purchase pornographic pictures, and keeping company with colored and Jewish women was also restricted.
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