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Deportation Memorial, Paris

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Deportation Memorial, Paris


Basic Information

Location 6 rue des Hospitalières-St.-Gervais, Paris
Country France
City Paris

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/hme-france.htm
Geographical Coordinates 48.85788,2.35876


Deportation Memorial (Mémorial de la Déportation) was established in 1962 by Charles de Gaulle and is located underground behind Notre Dame. This is a striking memorial to the 200,000 French Jews who were deported to the Nazi Concentration Camps during World War II. The memorial was designed by Modernist French architect, Georges-Henri Pingusson. The memorial is open daily from 10am to 5pm from October through March, and from 10am to 7pm from April through September. An annual Day of Remembrance ceremony is hosted at the memorial on the last Sunday of April.


The memorial is shaped like a ship's prow; the crypt is accessible by two staircases and a lowered square protected by a metal portcullis. The crypt leads to a hexagonal rotunda that includes two chapels containing earth and bones from concentration camps. The walls display literary excerpts. Pingusson intended that its long and narrow subterranean space convey a feeling of claustrophobia. The memorial's entrance is narrow, marked by two concrete blocks. Inside is the tomb of an unknown deportee who was killed at the camp in Neustadt. Along both walls of the narrow, dimly lit chamber are 200,000 glass crystals with light shining through, meant to symbolize each of the deportees who died in the concentration camps; at the end of the tunnel is a single bright light. Ashes from the camps, contained within urns, are positioned at both lateral ends. The memorial features excerpts of works by Louis Aragon, French poet and French Resistance member Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard,Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Jean-Paul Sartre. Fragments of two poems by Desnos are inscribed on the walls. The first consists of the last stanza of a poem written by Desnos, himself a deportee, pseudonymously and published "underground" in Paris, on Bastille Day 1942, "The Heart that Hated War"

History and time period

Designed by French architect, writer, teacher, and town planner Georges-Henri Pingusson (1894–1978), the memorial was inaugurated by then-President Charles de Gaulle on April 12, 1962. In the year of its opening, a brochure produced by the French survivors' group "Reseau de souvenir" described the memorial as a crypt, "hollowed out of the sacred isle, the cradle of our nation, which incarnates the soul of France -- a place where its spirit dwells”.

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