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France - WW2

Chartres commemorates 75th anniversary of liberation

A ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Chartres was held recently.
A ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Chartres was held recently. Dhananjay Khadilkar

Commemorations were held to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Chartres from the German army during World War II.

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Chartres, located 95 km south-west of Paris, was liberated in August 1944, four days before the liberation of the French capital.  

During the recent commemoration ceremony, locals, tourists and city officials paid tribute to those who fought for the liberation of the city. 

Chartres resident Robert Abed-Marchhioni said the ceremony was important in order that people don’t forget history.

“We want to pass on (to the new generation) what our elders have suffered and lived. I have lived in Chartres for 40 years. My family was part of the resistance,” he said.

Abed-Marchionni is involved with an initiative in Chartres called ‘Chemin des Memoires’ or Remembrance trail’ that features significant events and important personalities related to French history. 

The commemoration event was marked by a parade accompanied by a marching band, from Place du Chatelet to the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The majestic monument, a UNESCO world heritage site that dates back to the 13th century, was saved from damage during the liberation battle.

“At one point, we thought it was going to be bombarded. But there were no Germans in the bell towers. So it avoided damage. The city was bombarded by the allies but the cathedral remained untouched,” Abed-Marchionni explained.

The 75th anniversary event also saw vintage cars and military vehicles of the World War 2 era rolling along the streets of Chartres.  The event in the south-western city coincided with the ceremony held in Paris to commemorate the liberation of the French capital 75 years ago.

In Paris, a column of military vehicles followed the same route taken by the first Allied division to reach the capital in August 1944.

A new museum on the occupation and liberation of Paris during WW2 was also recently inaugurated in the Denfert-Rochereau part of Paris.

General Charles de Gaulle, the symbol of French resistance during World War 2, famously stopped in Chartres in August 1944 and addressed the crowd before heading to Paris.

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