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Paris 1940: the worst defeat in French history

The first soldiers came at half past five in the morning. On motorcycles and trucks they reached the Porte de la Villette on the north-eastern outskirts of Paris. The Germans advanced on the major traffic axes into the center of the metropolis. Three hours later, the first swastika flag was hoisted on the roof of the Navy Ministry on Place de la Concorde in the heart of Paris. Other buildings such as the State Department followed. At 10 o'clock the city was completely occupied.

Some residents took to the street curiously on June 14, 1940, while others angrily slammed the shutters. Many Parisiens, as the capitals in France are called, had fled and the city looked deserted. "Paris has been declared an open city," noted the soldier Arnold Binder in his diary. “We occupied them without a fight. The heart of France in our hands! "

The invasion heralded the occupation by Nazi Germany, which was to last until August 25, 1944. The City of Lights experienced its “dark years”, as this time is often described. France was considered the leading military power in Europe - and in 1940, together with the Benelux countries, it was overrun by the Wehrmacht within a few weeks. The "Blitzkrieg" led to the worst defeat in French history. Tens of thousands of soldiers were killed in the fighting, around 1.8 million members of the army were taken prisoners of war in Germany.