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Lesson Transcript

Victory Day
In French, it’s called Fête de la Victoire. Victoire is the French word that means “victory.”
Have you heard about Victory Day in France? It’s a very important holiday for French people, because it marks the victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany, and therefore the end of the Second World War. In French, the Second World War is called La Seconde Guerre Mondiale or Deuxième Guerre Mondiale. Victory Day is a public holiday celebrated on May 8. In this lesson, we’ll see how and why French people celebrate Victory Day.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What does the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is located under the Triumphal Arch or Arc de Triomphe in Paris, represent?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In 1939 France declared war on Germany, but it didn’t intervene in the conflict. After destroying Poland, Germany attacked France on May 10, 1940. On June 14, Paris was occupied. This defeat was traumatic for the French people. A French general called Pétain appeared as the savior. He appointed Pierre Laval as Vice President of the Council. The council took place in Vichy. On July 11, a new constitution was proclaimed – it’s still known as “the death of the Republic.”
On May 7, 1945, the Act of German Surrender was signed in Reims, France. On May 8, at three p.m., the bells in all the churches sounded to officially announce the end of the war as Général de Gaulle made the announcement over the radio. The population exploded in joy. The afternoon of May 8 as well as May 9 were declared holidays. Crowds invaded the streets, thundering out the French anthem La Marseillaise and other patriotic songs. May 8 was declared a public holiday in France in 1953.
President Charles de Gaulle removed the holiday but this commemoration was re-established in 1981. Since then, every year on May 8, the President of the Republic travels up the Champs-Elysées accompanied by soldiers. He then places a wreath of flowers onto the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or Tombe du Soldat Inconnu, and rekindles the flame found there.
French directors have released more than twenty films about the Second World War. One of the most recent films is called Elle s’appelait Sarah, known in English as “Sarah’s Key.” It tells the story of an American journalist looking for a little Jewish girl deported in 1942.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
Do you know what the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is located under the Triumphal Arch, or Arc de Triomphe, in Paris represents?
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier belongs to an unidentified soldier. It’s also the symbol of all soldiers who died in battle.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have a holiday celebrating victory?
Please leave a comment telling us at FrenchPod101.com and we’ll see you next time!