23.12.08

La Mémorial des Martyrs de La Déportation

Elisa, a reader of my article "Au revoir les enfants", wrote "...While in Paris on summer study aboard 4 years ago, I came across the Deportation Memorial behind Notre Dame Catherdal. It was an accidental find--it's in a somewhat out of the way location. There's someone at the above ground gate who tells visitors before descending not to take photos and turn off your cell phone. Looking at all the lights for every French victim who was deported and never returned makes the visit a somber one... This comment lead me to post this short article.

The Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation is in a quiet garden, the Square d'Ile de France, at the eastern end of Ile de la Cité. The island upon which stands the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.


It is located directly behind the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Square Jean XXIII, and across the street, Quai de l'Archevéché.

The entrance is simply a descending stairway on the south-east side of the garden. Alongside is a low, white stone wall defining the edge of the Square. Inscribed in red on this low wall are these words:

1940 AUX DEUX CENT MILLE MORTS DANS LES CAMPS MARTYRS FRANCAIS DE LA DEPORTATION 1945

In English: 1940 To the Two Hundred Thousand Deaths in the Camps French Martyrs of the Deportation 1945

This monument was designed by the architect Georges Henri Pingusson and inaugurated by President Charles de Gaulle April 12, 1962.

It memorializes the 160,000 people who were deported from France to the concentration camps between 1940-1945, 85,000 of whom were political activists, resistance fighters, homosexuals and gypsies.

76,000 of them were Jews, including 11,000 children. Only 2,500 of those deported survived.

This Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation was designed to represent features of the concentration camps; narrow passages, tight stairways, spiked gates and restricted views with no sight of the horizon.

Inside, inscribed on the walls, are texts and poems of Robert Desnos, Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, Jean-Paul Sartre and Antoine de St. Exupéry.

The black triangles embedded in the walls and inscribed with the names of the death camps contain soil and the ashes of the victims from those camps.
The Hall of Remembrance is lined with 160,000 pebbles. It represents the Jewish tradition of placing a stone on the grave of a loved one.

Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation Hours

The Memorial to the Martyrs of the Deportation is open daily from 10 a.m.-noon, and again from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. during April- September. The rest of the year, the Memorial closes at 5 p.m. There is no admission fee. Appropriate attire is requested as well as your cell phone being turned off.

Thank you Elisa.

Jhesu + Marie,
de Brantigny

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too stumbled on this memorial sometime in 1970 while visiting Notre Dame. I have never forgotten the sobering impression left upon me by this memorial. Is is good to remember always what took place then. The cruelty of man can be beyond comprehension.

Walter K. Patchett