On Sunday, September 3, MonacoUSA will lay a memorial wreath to commemorate the American-led liberation of Monaco from German occupation 73 years ago. The ceremony begins at 5 pm in the cemetery in Monaco, located just below the Princess Grace Hospital. The remembrance ceremony will also include prayers at the tombs of two Monaco resistance fighters executed shortly after the Allies arrived in the south of France in 1944.
The wreath will be presented by Merrily Lustig-Tornatore, a 20-year member of MonacoUSA, who also serves on its Board.
“Many people think that the close relationship between Monaco and the US started with the marriage of American-born Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier,” said Annette Anderson, MonacoUSA Director, “but certainly the US role in liberating the Principality during World War II had already cemented an important friendship.”
On August 15, 1944, allied forces landed along the coast west of Nice. Within two weeks, allied airplanes had bombarded and badly damaged the port area of Monaco. Five days later, the naval battering of La Turbie and Mont Agel signalled the moment for the German troops to depart.
On September 3, the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team arrived in Monaco.
Ms Anderson cites an oft-repeated story about that momentous day: “A jeep with two American GI's drives into Monte Carlo and pulls up to the Tip Top Bar. One of the GIs, the future-bestselling author Irwin Shaw, jumps out, orders some drinks and announces that Monaco had been liberated.”
Unfortunately, Ms Anderson added, Monaco historian, Pierre Abramovici, the author of “Monaco Sous l’Occupation,” recently documented that the story is urban legend and not true. “Shame,” she said, “it's a great story.”