Today's post comes from my awesome assistant and Community Manager over at Time Traveler Tours & Tales, Caitlin Hoffman. Caitlin (bio here) has been fascinated by history for as long as I've known her. We met when she was a high school student at the International School of Paris. From there she went on to read History at Royal Holloway, University of London. For her high school senior thesis (those of you who are IB aware will know it as the Extended Essay), Caitlin researched and wrote about the US's little known 23rd HQ Special Troops, whose main mission was to deceive the Nazi army with inflatable tanks and fake radio transmissions.

No wonder they were referred to as the Ghost Army!

Caitlin knows so many great tales and tidbits of trivia about World War II, especially from the French perspective. So on this occasion of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I asked her to share a few.

Thanks, Caitlin, for this thoroughly enjoyable post!

70 Years On... Paris and the Legacy of D-Day

Living in Paris, I am always impressed by the little nods that the city gives to those who fought in World War 2. You see it in the very fabric of the city. So next time you’re in Paris look out for these reminders:

The Ringing of the Sirens

On the first Wednesday of every month, air raid sirens can be heard throughout the streets of Paris. Don’t worry - they aren’t preparing against an invasion. It’s meant as a tribute to the city under occupation. It also has the bonus side effect of testing out the equipment.

Next time you’re having a stroll, listen out for the siren that stands out oddly against the bustling sound of a modern city.

Bullet Time

If you’ve been to Paris before then odds are you have either seen or been up the Eiffel Tower, but have you ever looked closely at the building way across from it, on the other side of the Champs de Mars?

The Ecole Militaire, also known as the French Military School, has some interesting stories to tell. During the liberation of Paris in August 1944, the Nazis were convinced that hiding in beautiful old buildings would stop them from getting bombed.

They were right, but this didn’t stop the French Resistant fighters from engaging in guerrilla  warfare. In fact, you can still see the bullet holes on the side of the building today!

It’s the only monument in Paris that has kept them as a reminder of the fierce fight for liberation.

The Writing on the Wall

On almost every residential building in Paris you can see a plaque on a wall. Sometimes it’s about a famous person who once lived there, but often it’s dedicated to a fallen French soldier during the Second World War.

Next to the plaque is usually a metal ring, which during national holidays holds bouquets of flowers. It gives the city a colorful tinge as you walk down the street, reminding us to celebrate the freedom that these individuals lost their lives for.

You can follow these plaques around Paris like bread crumbs, piecing together the entire war from occupation to liberation.

Let’s hope that humankind never forgets. But if the memory begins to fade, Paris has thousands of reminders.

Do you have any historical tales and trivia tidbits you'd like to share?
Contact me or Caitlin here.