Paris - A Liberated City, August of 1944

Paris - A Liberated City, August of 1944 Visual Arts Famous Historical Events Famous People Social Studies World History World War II

This photograph captures an early moment in the Liberation of Paris.  To the left of de Gaulle is Georges Bidault (head of the Conseil National de la Résistance).  To the right is de Gaulle’s personal delegate, Alexandre Parodi. 

The black man - at the right of the picture - is Georges Dukson, a 22-year-old who bravely fought in the Paris uprising. 

Matthew Cobb, Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester and author of The Resistance: The French Fight Against The Nazis (Simon & Schuster), tells us that Dukson wasn't supposed to be in the picture:

In the week of bloody street fighting that preceded the German surrender, Dukson had played a vital role for the Resistance in the 17th arrondissement in the north of Paris, earning the title “the Lion of the 17th”. When fighting broke out near his home on 20 August, Dukson rushed to help out and was put in command of a contingent of FFI Resistance fighters.

Together with his comrades, Dukson destroyed several German troop lorries, and even captured a tank, leaping on to it and killing the driver. In the spectacular newsreel footage that was taken during the Paris insurrection, Dukson can be seen grinning on top of the vehicle.

When the Resistance seized a new tank from a factory, they sent it out on to the streets to help the uprising; Dukson’s group, armed only with revolvers and grenades, bravely accompanied it. On 21 August, Dukson was wounded in the arm by a bullet, and he was again filmed on the newsreel, being helped by his comrades, clutching his rifle.
Caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment [celebrating the liberation of Paris, as depicted in this photo], convinced that he had as much right to be there as anyone else, Dukson had simply invited himself on to the head of the parade. His presence was completely unscripted, a piece of spontaneous bravura, and it was soon snuffed out by protocol. Newsreel rushes show Dukson being unceremoniously kicked off the march, at gunpoint, shortly after the photo was taken. Despite being a true representative of the Resistance rank and file, he had no place on de Gaulle’s demonstration, which was supposed to be tightly organised.
In the chaos that followed the Liberation of Paris, he [Dukson] took over an abandoned German garage and started selling the supplies he found there. Then he began “requisitioning” goods for the black market. Arrested on the orders of the Military Governor of Paris, he was shot and wounded while trying to escape, was taken to hospital and died on the operating table.

Despite his sad end, Dukson’s role in the liberation of Paris represented the true spirit of the Resistance.

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Photo online, courtesy Fondation de la Résistance.


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"Paris - A Liberated City, August of 1944" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 06, 2019.
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