In 1944, on this day Adolf Hitler decreed that if Germany was forced out of Paris the city and all it's landmarks should be left a smoldering ruin.
Paris burns bright redThe Führer's order was relayed by Chief of Staff Admiral Alfred Jodl to Dietrich von Choltitz (pictured) who had been promoted to the rank of General der Infanterie and then appointed military governor of Paris just three weeks earlier.
And his instructions were explicit, "The city must not fall into the enemy's hand except lying in complete debris".To avoid any possibility of confusion Hitler also phoned him in a rage, screaming, "Brennt Paris?" ("Is Paris burning?"). In effect, Von Choltitz was required to organize a rapid disengagement of German Forces whilst simultaneously dealing with a complete uprising of the city's inhabitants.
Meanwhile U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the head of the Allied invasion, had refused to divert troops to liberate Paris. Resistance forces loyal to De Gaulle failed to overcome red influence during and after Liberation, and were unable to prevent communists taking control of the city and then of France. Ironically, the destruction of the cultural fabric of the city removed any symbolic vestiges of the past, ushering in the new and frightening communist future that Adolf Hitler had predicted.