The Liberation of Paris, also referred to as the Liberation of France, took place during World War II from the 19th of August 1944 until the surrender of the occupying German army on the 25th of August. The Liberation began with an uprising by the French Resistance against the German troops. The capital of France had been governed by Nazi Germany since the signing of the Second Compiègne Armistice in June 1940, when the German Army occupied northern and westernmost France, and when the puppet regime of Vichy France was established in the town of Vichy in central France.
Nonetheless, it is difficult to define exactly when the Liberation took place because the term ‘Liberation’ has a multitude of meanings: the military operations of the Allied forces which signalled the end of the German occupation of France, the end of the war in Europe and in the World, the return of prisoners of war, deportees and others who had been absent from France during that period, and their reintegration into French society, the re-establishment of a democratic form of government, that not only marked the end of the Vichy regime but also the end of the provisional government of Charles de Gaulle. Therefore it could be argued that the years of the Liberation lasted until the beginning of 1947, when the new Fourth Republic was finally put in place.
It was after this period of Liberation that Charles de Gaulle set about creating a Resistance Myth that covered up the extensive collaboration that had taken place in France; later to be uncovered with the hugely publicised trial of Maurice Papon and the publication of American historian, Robert Paxton’s book that revealed the extent of active collaboration that the Vichy regime was guilty of during the Holocaust. Paxton writes, “the French state, itself, has participated to the politics of the extermination of Jews.” (Paxton, 2001). His book was hugely eye opening. De Gaulle’s Resistance Myth implied that France had been a nation of resisters, fighting against the Nazi occupation when in fact it was only a select, extraordinary few who had played active resistance roles.
This emphasis placed on supposed active resistance led to revelations of women’s efforts during the war and the roles that they had played in the resistance. I believe that it was these revelations that were responsible for the sparking of women’s suffrage in France and as a consequence, led to French women gaining the right to vote in 1944. There is ample evidence that the role women played in the Resistance had a significant impact and this consequently helped to secure their right to vote. It is a great shame that today the vast majority of the French population know little about the surprisingly large role women had to play. I believe that although subtle, their involvement in underground operations was significant. It was after this success in gaining the right to vote that a period of advances in women’s lives took place between 1945 and the late...