75 years ago, the capital was finally free from the German yoke. This historic day will remain, in the eyes of the whole world, the symbol of the renewal of France and democracy.
“There are minutes there, we all feel it, which exceed each of our poor lives.” This August 25, 1944, late afternoon, the atmosphere is solemn at the City Hall of Paris. General de Gaulle, who has just arrived suddenly in this high place of republican declarations, is received by the communist Georges Marrane, on behalf of the Paris committee of the Liberation, and by the Catholic Georges Bidault, president of the National Council of the Resistance (CNR), the successor of Jean Moulin. Paris has just been released in the middle of the afternoon from the Nazi yoke. Everything was done in haste. [ . . . ]
This week, France in Focus heads to the southern port city of Toulon, which is home to the French Navy’s main base. It was here on August 15, 1944, that the Allied invasion of southern France began. We take a closer look at just what happened and explore the various efforts being made today, 75 years later, to ensure the memory of those events lives on.
“Chanson d’automne” (“Autumn Song”) is a poem by Paul Verlaine, one of the best known in the French language. It is included in Verlaine’s first collection, Poèmes saturniens, published in 1866 (see 1866 in poetry). The poem forms part of the “Paysages tristes” (“Sad landscapes”) section of the collection
Poem: “Chanson d’Automne” by Paul Verlaine
Charles Trenet “Verlaine” The legendary French crooner Charles Trenet added music to Verlaine’s poem and recorded the song twice, first in the early 1940’s and again in the 1950s with a slower arrangement adding a string section. Here’s the original jazz version.
Word War II Resistance Code
The song’s lyrics include the line “les sanglots longues des violons de l’automne blessent mon coeur d’un langueur monotone” which translates as “the long sobs of the violins of autumn wound my heart with a monotonous languor”.
These words were used in 1944 to form the code phrases that alerted the Resistance to the Allied invasion of France, and were depicted in the earlier epic World War II movie The Longest Day (1962).