Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Paris at War's End

This evocative passage from Margaret Macmillan's Paris 1919 led me to ask our contributing editor Tony Langley for supporting images.

Signs of the Great War that had just ended were everywhere: the refugees from the devastated regions in the north; the captured German cannon in the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysées; the piles of rubble and boarded-up windows where German bombs had fallen. A gaping crater marked the Tuileries rose garden. Along the Grand Boulevards the ranks of chestnuts had gaps where trees had been cut for firewood. The great windows in the cathedral of Notre-Dame were missing their stained glass, stored for safety; in their place, pale yellow panes washed the interior with a tepid light. There were severe shortages of coal, milk, and bread. French society bore scars too. While the flags of victory fluttered from the lampposts and windows, limbless men and demobilized soldiers in worn army uniforms begged for change on street corners and almost every other woman wore mourning.

Actual Scene at Place de la Concorde

Wounded Soldiers at a Paris Parade

Damage from the Paris Gun


  1. Always enjoy seeing the postcards from WW I. Paris 1919 is a very good read and shows how Wilson's efforts for "war to end wars foundered on Allied intransigence over their original war aims and deals made to draw more nations into the war, particularly Italy. Much of what occurred in Paris laid the foundation for the rise of Fascism

  2. The Paris Kannonen left a larger crater than I would have thought, no doubt coming down from a great height had something to do with it. Anyone know of any stories from the civilians; I don't think it would have been heard except for a few seconds before impact (splash) ?