But the surrender came at a price. Weeks of armed resistance by the people of Paris preceded the capitulation. Somewhere between 1000 and 1500 Parisians were killed in the fighting - and roughly an equal number of German soldiers. But it could've been much worse.
Von Choltitz was a veteran of the Eastern Front - and was the commanding General at the siege of Sebastopol years earlier. During that battle the city had indeed been methodically reduced to rubble - and Von Choltitz had been brought to Paris by Hitler for the expressed purpose of repeating that experience should the Allies break-out of the Normandy battle area.
Once that breakout did occur in late July, Hitler began pressuring Von Choltitz to carry-out the systematic destruction of the 'City of Light', including the massacre of those who might dare to resist.
But Von Choltitz had recently met face to face with Hitler in his East Prussian headquarters - and had left that meeting convinced that Hitler had become deranged and delusional. Von Choltitz knew the war was lost - and decided to implement Hitler's plan as slowly as possible in hopes that the Allied army would arrive before he was forced to fully carry out his destructive orders.
Things began to change rapidly, though, as the resistance organizations of Paris - most notably the Communists - initiated an armed uprising to take control of the city. Unbeknownst to the resistance leaders, Allied forces commanding General Eisenhower had already decided to bypass Paris after the Normandy breakout in-order to avoid getting bogged down in the street fighting he feared would delay their move toward Germany.
However, the uprising by the citizens of Paris forced him to divert forces to the city to save it from a massive German counter-attack there, and the resultant destruction of the city.
The uprising began on the 19th of August - and raged until Eisenhower released a French Armored division to enter the city on August 25th, giving the citizens the force they needed to crush the Germans. Fighting continued for several days - but in the end Von Choltitz chose to terminate the fight, and not submit Paris to the wishes of Hitler.
As he walked through the Gare Montparnasse that day as a prisoner, he was spat upon by hundreds of angry Parisians. But little did they know that if not for his refusal to zealously follow Hitler's orders - Paris would've already been in ruins - and many, many thousands of her citizens would now be dead.
Today, you can still see evidence of the resistance battles all around Paris. Placards mark spots where resistance fighters fell - and many bullet scarred walls have been left as they were to serve as reminders of the bravery displayed during those August days so long ago. As you stare at those bullet-riddled walls, it seems as though the battle just ended, and you're compelled to stop for a moment - reflective and thoughtful.
As well we all should be.