It was fitting that we visited these two places with Chris and Jeff. In 2000, we traveled through France together and we spent a day at the Normandy Beaches. That was an incredibly emotional day for us, but well worth the visit. We didn't know about the Deportation Memorial in 2000, and the Shoah Memorial was opened in 2005, so we made time to visit both.
The Deportation Memorial is on the eastern tip of Île de la Cité, behind Notre-Dame Cathedral. If you don't know it is there, you can easily miss it. At the far end of a little park, you'll see a cement wall with an inscription
|Martys de Francais De La Deportation 1945|
and then some stairs
leading down to a courtyard.
The courtyard is stark and because it is triangular, the paving stones appear to lead you to barbed iron and a view of the Seine flowing towards you. The walls are high, there is no view of Paris from here, only the sky above. Through a narrow stone passageway
is the memorial crypt.
|The memorial crypt and tomb of the unknown deportee|
The memorial crypt contains the Tomb of the Unknown Deportee, a deportee who died at Neustadt. The dark hallway is lined with 200000 pieces of illuminated glass, each representing a deportee who died in a concentration camp. At the end of the hallway is one bright light symbolizing the eternal flame of hope.
On another wall are triangular urns.
The triangular shape mimics the shape of the badges prisoners wore. The urns are inscribed with the names of the concentration camps and contain soil and ashes from the camps.
About a 10 minute walk from the deportation memorial is the Shoah Memorial and Holocaust Center. From the street, you enter a courtyard where large a circular memorial contains the names of the camps.
Before you enter the main building, you see the Wall of Names of the Missing.
Inside the main building is a museum (no photos allowed), a documentation center, a reading room and a memorial crypt.
The Deportation and Shoah Memorials are both powerful and thought-provoking. They are understated, stark and dignified and allow you to contemplate the suffering, fear and loss of the French Jews while honoring their memories.
We did some fun things that day too!
We had a Mexican lunch at La Perla:
We saw MY hotel:
We saw what is thought to be the oldest building in Paris:
We went to Printemps!
And then after dinner, we went to the top of Tour Montparnasse:
|Jardin du Luxembourg|
|And of course...|
|Le Tour Eiffel|