Sunday, May 25, 2014
Mémorial de la Shoah
Métro: Saint Paul (line 1) or Pont Marie (line 7)
Address: 17 rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, 75004 Paris
Hours:Sunday-Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, open until 10:00pm on Thursdays
Closed on Monday and national and Jewish holidays
Free guided visits in English: Every second sunday of the month
I am a French native. As most kids of my generation, we have been raised with stories of WWII mostly told by our own grandparents. My grandpa was lucky enough to escape labor camp but so many others, mostly Jews were not lucky enough to survive the concentration camps. I have always been puzzled by how such horrible things were able to take place. I've read so many books on the topic and I still feel very ignorant and without reasonable answers. My husband and I have always wanted to visit the Memorial in Paris and came face to face to closed doors on Saturday. But after all, it is a nice reminder that it is a place dedicated to French Jews.
We were not discouraged and went another day. Before you're able to enter, you have to go through a high security check, it's more thorough than the Louvre or any other museums I have been to in Paris. It's another sign that there is still something to worry about even nowadays. I apologize for not being able to take pictures of the inside of the museum since they are not allowed by respect, like all the monuments for the remembrance of the victims.
As you go in, you find yourself almost trapped within walls. It's the Wall of Names: 76 000 Jewish men, women and children who were deported from France in only the lapse of time of 2 years (1942-1944). Those names were found in the Gestapo records that you can consult in the museum. You can also find the Wall of the Righteous engraved with the names of those who helped rescue Jews during the war.
The memorial is a huge building. You can find the map and explanation in English right HERE. It is very interactive. I think I spend almost 1 hour just listening to the testimonies of survivors. It's amazing the determination of those people. Despite everything that happened to them they are positive people, some of them even have a great sense of humour which is so impressive to me. It's the last place where you think you're going to have a great laugh, but I did and that is the best revenge they can have on life and their oppressors. The Memorial is really accessible to children, lots of activities for them that respect their sensitivity (they can also browse the website: http://www.grenierdesarah.org/index.php/en/ )
I remember once talking to a camp survivor. I was a teen then and I was so disgusted by the horror of the Holocaust that I asked him he had done to seek revenge. He responded to me that the best way to get revenge is to live, love and forgive but not forget; otherwise you are no better than they are.