The Grand Palais under the Occupation

14 June 1940, 7 am. The swastika flag is raised on the roof of the Grand Palais. Under occupation, it would become a showcase for the Vichy government: exhibitions and events held within glorified the new social and economic order based on close collaboration between France and Nazi Germany.

War 1939-1945. General Karl Heinrich Von Stülpnagel (1886-1944) at the "La France européenne" exhibition, presented at the Grand Palais, August 1941. (1941-08-01) by © LAPI / Roger-ViolletOriginal Source: Roger-Viollet website

Three exhibitions of Nazi propaganda

The first exhibition opened on 31 May 1941. With the title "European France", it aimed to present the agricultural future of France in Nazi Europe. It included a farm and outbuildings installed in the nave.

War 1939-1945, Member of the LVF (Legion of French volunteers) visiting the New Life exhibition, Paris, Grand Palais, June 1942. (1942-06) by © LAPI / Roger-ViolletOriginal Source: Roger-Viollet website

The second exhibition, "A New Life" opened in April 1942. It was dedicated to Franco-German collaboration and "the flourishing precepts that will be the bases for tomorrow's social community". The entrance to the nave was crowned by a hymn to work: "Live only from work and live well as a result".

War 1939-1945. Exhibition "Commerce and Industry". Paris, Grand Palais, October 1943. (1943-10) by © LAPI / Roger-ViolletOriginal Source: Site de l'agence photo

The final exhibition, "Commerce and Industry" was dedicated to the "excellent French economic results during collaboration".

Fire at the Grand Palais during the liberation of Paris, 23 August 1944. (1944) by © Photo by Xavier ROSSI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty ImagesRmn-Grand Palais

Liberation

During the liberation of Paris on 23 August 1944, the Grand Palais was involved in a violent exchange of gunfire between the forces of peace of the military command installed inside and a convoy of German military. The main entrance was breached by German explosives and the circular barricades in the nave were set alight. Outside, the assailants prevented fire fighters from approaching and the besieged were taken prisoner. Restorations to the façades have left visible the impacts of gunfire on the colonnade and the Alexander III rotunda.

Fire in the north wing of the Grand Palais during the liberation of Paris, August 1944 (1944) by © Gaumont Pathé archivesRmn-Grand Palais

Outside, the assailants prevented fire fighters from approaching and the besieged were taken prisoner. Restorations to the façades have left visible the impacts of gunfire on the colonnade and the Alexander III rotunda.

Credits: Story

We would like to thank all the people who have contributed to the construction of this journey through the Grand Palais and those who have given us valuable time and information as well as permission to reproduce their documentation.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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