Friday, 4 May 2012

Sab's Top Ten Paris Signs of War: No.3 ~ "Tin Tigers"

POSTED IN:  ~ PlacesTop 10 ~ War ~ Signs

Sab's Top Ten  Paris Signs of War
No.3: "Tin Tigers" ~ Introduction 
by Sab Will,  wannabe offbeat Paris street guru

'Fluctuat nec mergitur' is a motto you'll find carved and crenelated widely around this fair city.

It's Latin for something along the lines of 'Is shaken by the waves but does not sink'. Which is perfectly representative of the history of Paris through the ages.

Paris has been attacked many times but, unlike  many great cities, has never really been 'destroyed'. You can read 2000 years' worth of history in these speckled stones and more, but that doesn't mean the current capital has escaped unscathed.

Far from it, in fact, but you need to know where to look, and indeed feel like looking, in order to unearth the real signs, the lasting scars, which are witness to what these streets and stones have endured down the centuries.

'Signs of war' is my chosen theme for this particular 'Top Ten', but it's a top ten of sadness and suffering, as well as simple historical interest, which serves as an essential reminder of what has gone before. Unsung, forgotten heroes fighting to save or instaure what we take for granted today call to us from the plaques and paving stones of the streets.

Sometimes, perhaps no less tragically, the signs are simply a testimonial to the heights and depths the human spirit and its attendant stupidity or immaturity can attain, as we scrabble towards some sort of mutually acceptable sanity in this world of inequality and mutual incomprehension.

Let's look at a bunch of buildings and battle signs to focus our minds on something tangible for a bit...

Sab's Top Ten Paris Signs of War
No.3 ~ "Tin Tigers"

Roaring, defiant and proud, this guy hardly looks like a victim. Yet he is, and the roars may be more out of frustration and pain than anything else.

To see why we need to tread on the hallowed, out-of-bounds lawn of the Tuileries in order to witness the damage.

There in his muscular shoulder for all to see are the unmistakable marks of two bullets or shells, dating back to the last days of the German occupation of the city back in August 1944.

This whole area was heavily involved in the liberation battles and there is clear evidence of the events of those days on some of the buildings around the Rue de Rivoli and Place de la Concorde area, some of which will be further members of this striking Paris Top 10.

The statue itself is rather uninventively called 'Tigre terrassant un crocodile' (Tigre flooring a crocodile) from 1869, and is by someone called Auguste Nicolas Cain. That's all the more silly too because crocodiles are generally found crawling along the floor in the first place, in my experience, at least.

The stately Louvre is in the background, and it's always sobering to imagine tanks and guns and soldiers crawling all over these now gentle gardens where we eat our sandwiches peacefully and watch kiddies playing with wooden boats on the circular pond.

And even as De Gaulle hammered out his victory speech from the Hôtel de Ville, he reminded Paris that the struggle wasn't quite over yet for France.

"I speak of her duties first, and I will sum them all up by saying that for now, it is a matter of the duties of war. The enemy is staggering, but he is not beaten yet. He remains on our soil.
It will not even be enough that we have, with the help of our dear and admirable Allies, chased him from our home for us to consider ourselves satisfied after what has happened. We want to enter his territory as is fitting, as victors."

This brutalised beast, still defending the Louvre, sharp fangs gleaming, is certainly one of the lesser-known legacies of the Second World War here in Paris, but only one of many we will discover over the next few articles.


Discover all my Paris signs of war... 


* Sab Will runs Photo and Curios Tours in Paris, and also manages a variety of Paris and photography-themed sites and blogs. He writes an illustrated Paris Chronicle every day, runs a Meetup group for Paris lovers, interviews Paris personalities and reviews Paris books (on this blog), and even contributes to the city's street art (shh), so feel free to browse some of the links below and in the right-hand column to find out more about what he gets up to out there...

© 2011 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Suggestions, questions, requests and offers always welcome!

1 comment:

SeaSon said...

i like nice post

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