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1940: German troops enter Paris

AUDIO : Eye-witness account from Paris

German troops marched into Paris in the early hours of this morning as French and allied forces retreated.

The enemy met no resistance as it entered the capital, which was declared an open town yesterday by the city's French military governor, General Hering.

French troops withdrew to avoid a violent battle and total destruction of Paris. They are believed to have taken a new line of defence south of the city.

The Germans advanced from the north-east and north-west and shortly afterwards tanks rumbled past the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde.

Government retreats

All shops and businesses in Paris have been closed and shuttered and there are unconfirmed reports the French government has now left Tours, in central France, and gone further south to Bordeaux.

The enemy has been advancing toward Paris since they took Dunkirk ten days ago, forcing a huge evacuation of the port, resulting in thousands of allied deaths and casualties.

As the Germans approached, the French premier Paul Reynaud broadcast an appeal for all free men to come to the aid of France.

British troops arrived south of Paris and began fighting, with their French counterparts, day and night to stem the advance of the Germans.

The RAF has spent the past few days bombing German convoys, supply columns, mechanised units and lines of communications.

All the bridges behind enemy lines from Rouen to Mantes have been destroyed by the RAF to stop the enemy bringing up material and reserves.

German aircraft responded with air raids east of Paris and at Evreux and Mantes, west of the capital.

In Context
Hitler's attack on western Europe began on 10 May when the Germans carried out air raids on Belgium and Holland.

They took northern France despite heavy allied resistance. By 4 June 340,000 allied troops had been rescued from Dunkirk.

After the Germans had taken Paris British troops began to be evacuated from French ports which were still in allied hands. They retreated across the Channel.

On 17 June Reynaud was replaced by Henri-Philippe Petain as French premier. Mr Petain negotiated an armistice which was signed on 22 June. All hostilities ceased by 25 June.

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