August 24, 1944: la Nueve liberates Paris

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La Nueve was the 9th company of the Chad marching regimentcomposed of 160 men, including 146 Spanish republicans attached tothe 2nd DB of Leclerc, under the command of French Captain RaymondDronne and Spanish Captain Amado Granell; these men were the first toenter Paris and join the Hôtel de Ville on August 24.

The 9th Company consisted of Spanish fighters who fled to North Africaafter Franco’s victory in 1939 and joined the French Forces after theAllied landing in November 1942. It was found in Tunisia in December1942 against Afrika Korp. Composed of anarchists, socialists,communists…, the company was allowed to wear the colors of the tricolorflag adopted by the Second Spanish Republic and its armored vehicleswere named after the Spanish War: “Madrid”, “Guernica”, “Teruel”,“Ebro”, etc.
On the night of July 31 to August 1, 1944, the “Nueve” took part in theend of the battle of Normandy by landing at Utah Beach and fought theWaffen-SS divisions of Adolph Hitler and the Reich. She then returned toParis, which rose on August 20 against the occupier.
Leclerc recruited 2,000 Spanish soldiers with General de Gaulle’sagreement to form the 2nd DB, which required the commitment of 15,000men (the Americans having refused to allow black soldiers to land),headed to the capital on 23 and entered Paris with its armored personnelon the evening of 24 August by the Gate of Italy. The section ofLieutenant Amado Granell, former captain of the Republican Army, is thefirst to reach the center of the capital with his half-tracks (lighter armoredvehicles armed with machine guns) being driven by Spanish troops. TheLieutenant was the first allied officer to have been received at the CityHall by representatives of the National Resistance Council.
On 25 August, before the surrender of German forces in Paris, the“Nueve” secured the Chamber of Deputies (the Palais Bourbon, seat ofthe National Assembly); the Hotel Majestic (avenue Kléber), which is nowmissing and was the headquarters of the German High MilitaryCommand in France, as well as the Place de la Concorde. The divisionthen left in Moselle and then in Germany until May 1945, leaving only 16members of the company, most of whom will not return to their homecountry following the takeover of Franco’s power, their weapons will beforgotten until 2004 when a plaque in honor of Nueve was installed onthe Quai Henri-IV 24 August in the presence of the Mayor of Paris,Bertrand Delanoe; President of the Spanish Senate, Francisco JavierRojo; of the Spanish ambassador Francisco Villar and two survivors, LuisRoyo Ibañez and Manuel Fernandez. A similar plaque has been placedin Gustave-Mesureur square, Place Pinel (Paris 13th), another in thecenter of Place Nationale (Paris 13th). One of these official plates isplaced on the Place-de-l’Hôtel-de-Ville Esplanade-de-la-Libération deParis. These plates represent for posterity the “Path of Liberation”, asdecided by the Paris Council. In February 2010, the Grand Medal ofVermeil of Paris was awarded to Manuel Fernandez, Luis Royo Ibañezand Rafael Gomez-Nieto, also decorated with the highest Frenchdistinction, the Legion of Honor. In 2012, anarchist activists who came tocelebrate the memory of the libertarian fighters of La Nueve werearrested at the public ceremony for “illegal crowding” To celebrate the70th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris in 2014, the associationorganized demonstrations in the presence of Rafael Gomez-Nieto, aveteran of the company, and the following year, the Paris Councilofficially appointed the garden of the Hôtel de Ville, “Jardin desCombatants-de-la-Nueve”. The inauguration ceremony was planned inthe presence of the King and Queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Letizia, butthe crash of flight 9525 Germanwings, where 51 Spaniards died,shortened their visit and was postponed until 3 June 2015. Since then,every 24 August, an official ceremony has been held in the garden for theLiberation of Paris celebrations in the presence of the Mayor of Paris,Anne Hidalgo; Spanish representatives and descendants of the fighters,including Captain Dronne’s daughter…
For the first time this year, a life-size fresco by Franco-Spanish artistJuan Chica Ventura will pay tribute to the first combatants of the Nuevein the 13th arrondissement at 20 rue Esquirol. A way for the city of Paristo celebrate foreign fighters, especially the Spanish of the “Nueve”.

Moreover, the City of Madrid, which inaugurated the garden with thesame name as in Paris in April 2017, “the garden of the Combatants ofNueve” in the presence of the mayors of Madrid, and of Paris, ManuelaCarmena and Anne Hidalgo, offered the French capital the plaque of theMadrid garden on this day of commemoration in front of the Mayor ofParis, his deputy Catherine Vieu-Charrière er, of H.E. the Spanishambassador in Paris, Mr. Fernando Carderera Soler , Mrs. ColetteDronne, daughter of Captain Dronne and Spanish officials.

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