For four long years during World War II, France’s capital city festered under the thumb of Nazi occupation—until Aug. 19, 1944, when Paris, it seemed, could take no more. With the German forces on their heels throughout the region, an uprising broke out in the city. Less than a week later, on this day in 1944, Allied forces triumphantly made their way into the City of Light. For many around the world, it was the liberation of that great cultural center that marked the beginning of the end of the horrific war.
“Paris is the city of all free mankind,” TIME opined shortly after, “and its liberation last week was one of the great events of all time.”
The report from TIME’s war correspondent Charles Christian Wertenbaker captured the charged spirit of the moment:
Read more from 1944, here in the TIME Vault: Paris Is Free!