Lily Heise, our friend and manager of Context Paris, recently invited us to join a new walking tour that Context has organized called “Lights Out, Paris under the Occupation.”
We met the group leader, historian Thierry Heil, at the Cadet metro station in the 9th arrondissement for a three-hour trek that began in the Jewish quarter that lies to the north of the Grands Boulevards and ended at place de la Concorde. Along the way, Thierry narrated somber stories of life in Paris under German occupation during WWII: razzias, deportations, executions, resistance, collaboration, denunciation, and finally liberation.
Heil pointed out buildings where the Germans established their headquarters, a synagogue and schools that Germans and their French police collaborators raided to capture Jews, plaques on walls that recalled executions and deportations, and locations of street battles between German forces and members of the French resistance. One plaque that he mentioned (that wasn’t on the walk) was placed in the memory of an American resistance fighter, Orville J. Cunningham, who was captured by the Germans on September 24, 1942 and executed on December 4, 1943.
Travelers to Paris who have an interest in French history or the history of WWII will find this walk to be fascinating and enlightening.