Hitler’s early morning tour of Paris

Hitler in front of the Eiffel Tower with Speer at left and Arno Breker on the right. The French claimed that the cables to the Eiffel Tower lift had been cut and Hitler declined to climb the stairs to the top of the Tower. Some hours after Hitler left the lift was working again.

Adolf Hitler made a swift tour of Paris in the early hours of 23rd June, accompanied by Albert Speer his favourite Architect and later Armaments Minister, and Arno Breker his favourite sculptor. Speer dated the visit as 28th in his memoirs but most authorities agree it was the 23rd:

Three days after the beginning of the armistice we landed at Le Bourget airfield. It was early in the morning, about five-thirty. Three large Mercedes sedans stood waiting. Hitler as usual sat in the front seat beside the chauffeur, Breker and I on the jump seats behind him, while Giessler and the adjutants occupied the rear seats. Field-gray uniforms had been provided for us artists, so that we might fit into the military framework. We drove through the extensive suburbs directly to the Opera, Charles Garnier’s great neobaroque building. . . . It was Hitler’s favorite and the first thing he wanted to see. …

Later they drove through the centre of Paris, stopped at the Eiffel Tower and again at Napoleon’s tomb where Speer recalls that Hitler spent a long time in contemplation. He was however apparently unimpressed by much of the classical French architecture.

After a last look at Paris we drove swiftly back to the airport. By nine o’clock in the morning the sightseeing tour was over. ‘It was the dream of my life to be permitted to see Paris. I cannot say how happy I am to have that dream fulfilled today.’ For a moment I felt something like pity for him: three hours in Paris, the one and only time he was to see it, made him happy when he stood at the height of his triumphs.

In the course of the tour Hitler raised the question of a victory parade in Paris. But after discussing the matter with his adjutants and Colonel Speidel, he decided against it after all. His official reason for calling off the parade was the danger of its being harassed by English air raids. But later he said: ‘I am not in the mood for a victory parade. We aren’t at the end yet.’

See Albert Speer: Inside The Third Reich

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