The Survivors’ Parade

On this 1 May 1945, the whole of Paris seemed to be on its feet. It was the first Labour Day to be celebrated in freedom after the end of the German occupation. Parades organized by the labour movement marched through the town. And although the fighting continued in Germany, it was also a celebration of victory over National Socialism.

Around noon, a parade of 150 members of the resistance who had been liberated from concentration camps made its way down the Champs-Élysées to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe. High-ranking commanders of the Résistance, all survivors of the Buchenwald, Mittelbau-Dora and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, led the way. One of them was the 26-year-old Paul Butet, who had reached Paris just a few hours earlier: “The streets were lined with people. The crowd was amazed and moved to tears to see the ‘survivors’ from the camps pass by. I am certain that not one of us weighed more than fifty kilos.”

(Michael Löffelsender)

Reference: André Sellier, A History of the Dora Camp, Chicago 2003.