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Photographs of Hitler's triumphant tour of Paris, 1940


A day after signing an armistice with Germany in June 1940, Adolf Hitler celebrated the German victory over France with a triumphant tour of Paris. Hitler was surveying his conquests with his various companions and became one of the most iconic photographs of 1940 and World War 2. This was the first and only time he had been to Paris.

Adolf Hitler made a brisk tour of Paris in the early hours of 23 June, with Albert Speer as his favorite architect and later Minister of Arms, and Arno Brecker his favorite sculptor.

The day before (22 June), France signed an armistice with Germany after a successful German invasion. Hitler's tour included the Paris Opera, the Champs-Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. After visiting Napoleon's Tomb and the Sacred Coeur, Hitler left Paris. In total, Hitler spent about three hours in the city.

His visit to Napoleon's tomb was special. "That was the greatest and best moment of my life", he said on leaving. As a tribute to the French emperor, Hitler ordered that the remains of Napoleon's son be taken from Vienna to his father.

, He also ordered the destruction of two World War I monuments: one by General Charles Mangin, a French war hero, and one by Edith Cavell, a British nurse, who was asked to help Allied troops escape from German-occupied Brussels. For was killed by German firing squad.

Hitler kept thinking about Paris for months later. He was so impressed, he ordered architect and friend Albert Speer to revive plans for a large-scale construction program of new public buildings in Berlin, an attempt to destroy Paris, not with bombs, but with better architecture. "Isn't Paris beautiful?" Hitler asked Speer. "But Berlin must be far more beautiful. When we have finished in Berlin, Paris will be only a shadow".


Albert Speer's memoirs about Hitler's visit to Paris (taken from Albert Speer: Inside the Third Reich):

We landed at Le Bourget airfield three days after the start of the armistice. It was half past five in the morning. Three large Mercedes sedans stood in wait.

Hitler sat as usual in the front seat next to the driver, Brecker, and I in the jump seats behind him, while Geisler and the assistant sat in the back seats.

We artists were provided with field-grey uniforms, so that we could fit into the military structure. We drove straight from the wider suburbs to the great Neobaroque building of the Opera, Charles Garnier… it was Hitler's favorite and the first thing he wanted to see.

After seeing Paris for the last time, we hurriedly headed back to the airport. By 9 in the morning the sightseeing was over. "It was the dream of my life to be allowed to see Paris.

I can't say how happy I am to fulfill that dream today." For a moment I felt something like pity for her: three hours in Paris, the only time she saw it, she felt happy when she stood at the height of his victory.

During the tour, Hitler raised the question of a victory parade in Paris. But after discussing the matter with his adjutants and Colonel Spedl, he finally decided against it. His official reason for calling off the parade was the danger of being disturbed by English air raids. But he later added: “I am not in the mood for a victory parade. We are not at the end yet".


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