Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Liberation of the Ritz

An interesting and à propos anecdote about the Ritz.

From Vanity Fair...
Hemingway and the Ritz were virtually synonymous. In the 20s he and his buddy Scott Fitzgerald had spent many long evenings at the hotel’s celebrated bar, and their behavior there had become legend. 
As World War II ended in Europe, Hemingway personally liberated the bar as the Nazis were retreating. It was expected that General Leclerc, in command of the Allied troops, would be first on the scene, marching up the Avenue de la Grande Armée with a full panoply of tanks, artillery, flags, and bands. But well before Leclerc could get there, a jeep came careening up the avenue, zipped under the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Élysées, and across the Place de la Concorde, then skidded to a stop in the Place Vendôme at the entrance of the Ritz. Hemingway was in command of that jeep. Ostensibly a war correspondent, but with a gun slung in the crook of his arm, he had taken charge of the motley group in the vehicle, most of them stragglers who had become separated from their units. Hemingway called them his “Irregulars.” 
He led them into the Ritz, proclaimed its liberation, took command of the bar, and ordered champagne for everyone.

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