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Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Paris

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To the memory of Michel Varin de la Bruneliere.
Cross of War. Drafted at 18 y.o.
Died for France. The 25th of August 1944.
One of the things you notice around Paris, if you pay close attention, are all the small plaques, here and there, on the sides of this and that building - maybe a school here, an office there - commemorating someone who died fighting the Nazi occupation during World War II.

Often the plaques will honor Jewish students - only teenagers, or worse - who attended that school and were taken away by the Nazis, never to be seen again.

(There's an exhibit at the Hotel de Ville in Paris, about the Nazi deportation of Jewish kids - I couldn't get in, lines were too long, but it's free and worth a look if you go any time in the next month or so.)

Michel Varin de la Bruneliere
I came upon one such plaque, actually several of them in a row, a few years back near the Place de la Concorde (you'll see them right next to the Concorde Metro exit on the south side of the Rue de Rivoli along a long white wall). They're dedicated to 9 Frenchmen, including an 18 year old boy, Michel Varin de la Bruneliere, a number of whom were lined up and shot by the Germans against this very wall during the liberation of Paris.

Apparently, the Pont de la Concorde, a bridge near the Place de la Concorde, was one of the only Parisian bridges the Nazis hadn't yet blown up, keeping it as a potential strategic retreat.  There was heavy fighting near the bridge, machine gun fire everywhere, and the young rifleman decided to help.  He was soon shot dead.

I still get chills imaging an 18 year old having the gumption to step up and help defend his city (then again, our soldiers are 18), and at the thought that he's still remembered with flowers nearly 70 years later.

Here's a short video from the Daily Beast that shows that particular memorial among others.

I'm usually in Paris today, the 25th of August, finishing up my house-sitting for Chris and his wife (and my medical tourism), and I always liked going by that monument near the Place de la Concorde and seeing all the flowers left at each plaque to commemorate, and remember, people who died nearly 70 years ago.

In researching this particular wall of plaques, I came upon these tremendous photos of the Liberation of Paris, many from famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson - I've always loved his photos, but didn't realize he had photographed the liberation. I found several particular amazing (they're a mix of photographers, including Robert Capa, who's also very good).  I can't link directly to the photos, so have a look - there aren't too many, but several are really neat ones I'd never seen, including one from inside the destroyed French Foreign Ministry looking at the Eiffel Tower.

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