Work on the creation of the Shoah memorial (Mémorial de la Shoah) in memory of the victims of the Holocaust began in occupied France in 1943. Emigrants from Russia Isaac Schneerson and Lev Polyakov created an organization that collected evidence of Nazi crimes against Jews. Originally based in Grenoble, the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation (CDJC) moved to Paris in 1956, where it successfully continued its activities.
Crypt of the innocent slain
The first part of the grandiose memorial with an area of 5 thousand m2 became the crypt of an unknown Jewish martyr, now located in front of the main building of the complex. It opened in 1957 in the historic Marais in the presence of delegations from 50 countries. In the center of the underground hall there is a huge six-pointed star of David made of black marble, symbolizing 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust.
In this place, urns contain earth and ashes from numerous extermination camps and the Warsaw ghetto. Near one of the walls, in six cupboards, there is a multivolume Book of Remembrance, on the pages of which are recorded evidence of Nazi crimes against Jewish communities in Europe.
New features of the new building
The completion of the spacious building for the Shoah memorial in January 2005 allowed its creators to set up a permanent exhibition. Its halls display hundreds of objects, photographs and historical documents related to the tragic events of the Holocaust.
Following along the left wall of the central hall, visitors to the memorial get acquainted with the dramatic history of individual Jewish families, and walking along the right half of the hall can assess the scale of crimes throughout Europe.
The exposition of the museum consists of 12 sections, the exhibits of which tell about the peaceful pre-war life of Jews in France, the emergence of Nazism, deportations, plans of mass murder in concentration camps.
The history of the camp at Auschwitz / Berkenau is especially detailed. In the museum space, a place is also given to the story of survival in the occupied country, the formation and development of the Resistance, various forms of persecution of Jews, the long-awaited liberation of France and perpetuating the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
The halls of the museum are equipped with interactive equipment that provides access to visual and archival materials, and in the auditorium, newsreels and documentaries are shown to visitors.
The upper floors of the Shoah memorial are occupied by the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation (CDJC). Its funds have collected more than 40 million archival documents, and the scientific library contains about 80 thousand books and periodicals. Along with historical research, its main task is to organize educational activities based on materials about the tragic pages of history.
Wall of sorrow
At the entrance to the memorial there is a Wall of Names (Le Mur des Noms), made of blocks of gray stone delivered from Israel. Hundreds of tablets are fixed on its surface on which the names of 76 thousand French Jews and citizens of other states, deported from the country to concentration camps in Germany and the occupied territories, are listed.
The commemorative inscriptions on the wall are engraved in alphabetical and chronological order from 1942 to 1944. When new information about the victims of Nazism is discovered, the French archive service CDJC constantly makes changes and amendments to the list of tragically killed civilians, so it is still not considered final.
Alley of Resistance Heroes
The Alley and the Wall of the Righteous (Mur des Justes) became the logical continuation of this part of the memorial. Its opening took place on June 14, 2006, at the same time as the opening of an exhibition dedicated to those who risked their lives to save Jews.
The wall design and decoration were developed by architects Antoine Jauvet, Simon Vino, Anna Cesar and designer Bernard Bisayte. To this day, the memory of 3 brave people who helped the Jews to leave France, captured by the Nazis, have been immortalized.
In the fall of 2008, the Le passage amplifié became part of the Shoah memorial. It was created in collaboration with Belgian and Swedish artists Miriam Beckstrom and Carsten Heller in memory of 11,4 Jewish children who suffered from Nazism. The speakers installed here continually reproduce children's voices and street sounds from bygone times.
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