There had been almost no French military defence of Paris, so there had been no excuse for the Wehrmacht to hesitate in driving right into the prize. But an awkward lull had briefly prevailed. Waiting outside the city on June 13, a day before his army would formally enter it,  one young lieutenant was impatient. Asked to make plans for his battalion’s quarters when they entered the capital, he borrowed a BMW motorcycle, and using the Byzantine dome of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur as his guide, drove straight into Montmartre, on the city’s northern edge. The streets, he felt, were strangely empty, but when he stopped in the neighbourhood’s most famous plaza, the Place du Tertre, a crowd instantly gathered, They were looking at their first German soldier — who suddenly lost his earlier exuberance. Turning around, he sped back behind his lines to safety.

Ronald Rosbottom, “When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation“.


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