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Is Paris Burning?
Is Paris Burning?
Submitted by kittynh
16th December 2007
Is Paris Burning?

This book was a gift from another forum poster. Knowing my love for Paris, he sent this to me. It was the perfect gift. If you know Paris at all, this book will enthrall you.

When visiting Paris I would often notice plaques that would mention the Resistance. One that I always notice is near the Metro near the Eiffel Tower that I use. Then there were the graves at the Père Lachaise cemetery. Close to Sarah Bernhart's is that of a young woman, 20 years old, that died in the final days of Parisian occupation by the Germans. There are always flowers on her grave, and as I would look at her face, forever young, I really wondered how such a beautiful young woman could die in the last hours of the occupation of her city. (it should be noted that like many European cemeteries, many of the graves have photographs).

This book brought the story of the plaques and the graves to life for me. I finally had my answers to just what happened.

The full story of Paris in those days, days in which Hitler had ordered the city destroyed, is well worth reading. Bravery on all sides, including that of the German commander of the city who saved Paris, really leaps off each page. It's a war story and a political story. But it's also a very human story, being meticulously researched.

I had my own tourist map of Paris out as I was reading it. The Place de Republic where I have often been confused ("ok, which Metro exit will put me near my hotel?") was the scene of fierce fighting, including fighting in those very Metro tunnels I've been "lost" in. Almost every one of my favorite sites, from the Marais district to Notre Dame, was the scene of bravery and bloodshed. I can't wait to go back, this time with a copy of the book with me.

I learned that Hitler wanted to destroy Paris with V rockets when he found that indeed Paris was NOT burning. Love the French or not, thank goodness several Germans were able to also appreciate the beauty and history of Paris as much as I do!

When I go to Paris now I'm going to think how fortunate I am, to be able to enjoy the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. I know when I visit Hamburg I feel very sad when I see the photographs of the city after the fire bombings. One theme throughout the book was that people feared Paris would end up like Warsaw, in total ruins.

The fact that Paris stands today is because of the efforts of the Parisians (including many civilians), the French miliatry, the resistance (both Communist and DeGaulle supporters), the Americans, and most of all a few brave Germans that had a sense of history and what was right. Looking at Hamburg and knowing that these men choose not to destroy Paris makes me feel just a little better about mankind and wish that this part of history were more well known.

Anyway, a great book to read! And a great gift!

Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre

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