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Poitiers, 40 years
During the occupation, the German army had set up their command center in this luxury hotel. As military governor of Greater Paris, the General Dietrich von Choltitz (Gerd Froebe) hosts the Swedish consul played by Orson Welles. Adapted from the eponymous novel by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, this 175-minute feature film tells the story of the Liberation of Paris at the end of the Second World War. If the movie is in black and white it’s mainly because at the time of shooting, the government refused to have Nazi flags flying in the streets of Paris. Only their grey versions were tolerated. The title is a quote from Hitler to General Dietrich von Choltitz, governor of Paris at the time. The dictator had ordered him on August 23rd, 1944, to leave the city in ruins when the Allies were to enter. The next day, Hitler supposedly called him, furious, to ask “Is Paris burning?” It wasn’t. The high level officer had refused to follow Hitler’s orders, convinced he had become insane when he had met him a few weeks prior. The general signed the German surrender on August 25th, 1944 in the Montparnasse train station.

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