The origins of the Memorial go already back to the year 1943 when an underground archive for the documents about the persecution and killing of the Jews was established by Isaac Schneersohn.
In 2005 the Holocaust Memorial was inaugurated in presence of the former French president Jacques Chirac. After a security check you turn left and look at the three walls full of names in alphabetical order of approximately 76000 murdered Jews from France. I watched a French couple looking for some names of relatives.
Next to it stand a big bronze cylinder with name of different concentration and extermination camps as well as the name of the Warsaw Ghetto. It doesn’t seem very logical to me because French Jews as my friend Noah Klieger born in Strasbourg in 1923 was also imprisoned in Dora Mittelbau and liberated in Ravensbrück. It is intended to show where French Jews were murdered or imprisoned but I didn’t understand why the Warsaw Ghetto is mentioned here in relation to the French Holocaust victims.
I was impressed by the Holocaust Memorial that France built in 1958 to remember all six million victims: in the middle a Star of David in which the ashes of the martyrs and from the Warsaw Ghetto are mingled. On the opposite side you find the archive with files of people that the Vichy government and the Police Department collected about Jews arrested in Paris and the Seine region. These are only files without any word about the participation of the Vichy Government in delivering French Jews to the Germans.
I only had a short time to run through the museum itself. At the model of Auschwitz II Birkenau I walked by a French school group that was listening to its guide’s explanation. I would have put another model of Belzec, Sobibor or Treblinka there to compare them. I guess that it is the same like in Germany that high school students don’t visit those places. Next time I will come with more time to study the exhibition.