In the eastern part of the Ile de la Cité, in the historic center of Paris, there is one of the main centers of memory for the victims of the Second World War. The memorial complex to the victims of deportation (Memorial de martyrs de la Déportation) was created on the initiative of General Charles de Gaulle in 1962 in a small square of Ile-de-France near the Saint-Louis bridge.
Architecture and style
The memorial is dedicated to the memory of 200 thousand French citizens who died in concentration camps, Resistance fighters and missing in forced labor at the enterprises of Nazi Germany and other occupied countries. The author of the project was the architect A. Pourgasson, who used stones from all regions and departments of France in its construction.
You can get inside the memorial through a narrow entrance located between two massive pylons. A small courtyard is surrounded by a blank wall with a single barred window. Behind it is visible only the Seine, which quickly carries its waters. On a round plate embedded in the floor of the prison yard are inscribed the words "They went down to hell and never returned." At the entrance to the memorial, there is the grave of an unknown prisoner of one of the "death factories", whose ashes were transferred here from the Natzweiler-Struthof camp in 1962.
The main part of the memorial is located below the surface of the earth. After going down a narrow staircase into the underground, visitors to the complex find themselves in a gloomy room, illuminated by thousands of flickering small lamps. The floor and ceiling of the narrow hall are painted in black mourning color. Its walls are endless rows of slabs engraved with tens of thousands of the names of the victims and the names of the death camps.
In the walls of the hall, in several triangular recesses, urns with soil from various concentration camps are placed. On the far end wall of the hall, there is a shapeless niche illuminated by a single light bulb. Its light symbolizes hope for a future without wars and cruelty.
The windowless second hall, sanctified by soft light, houses dozens of information boards about deportation with photographs, documents, diagrams and diagrams. Among the items on display here are the personal belongings of concentration camp prisoners. On the pages of M. K. Couturier's diary, the text of the song "Chant de Marais" is written, which has become a kind of anthem of the deported French.
On the walls of the memorial are also inscribed fragments of a poem by the French poet R. Desnos "A heart that hates war", written by him in 1942. In the design of its interior, quotations from the works of A. de Saint-Exupery, P. Eluard, L. Aragon, J.P. Sartre, J.A. Maidier were also used. Above the exit from the dungeon there is an inscription on the slabs: “Forgive us. We will never forget you. "
In 2015, the memorial was reconstructed to mark the XNUMXth anniversary of the victory. During the work, the decoration of the memorial was restored. After restoration, the memorial became accessible for people with disabilities. His visit has become more comfortable with the opening of new additional services.
Address: 7 Quai de l'Archevêché, Paris 75004
Phone: + 33 1 46 33 87 56
Metro: Cité, Saint-Michel - Notre-Dame
RER train: Saint-Michel - Notre-Dame
Hours: 10: 00-19: 00