Opened in 2005, the Shoah Memorial, or Memorial de la Shoah, is a museum located in the Marais, Paris’ 4th arrondissement, dedicated to the 76,000 French Jews deported from France to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Honoring their memory through a series of poignant monuments and focusing on educating the public about the harrowing truths of the Holocaust, the museum is one of the country’s most moving tributes to its Jewish population.
Exhibits are centered around a number of memorials including the moving Wall of Names, a series of tall stone plinths listing the names and dates of French Jews lost in the war. The Crypt, a huge Star of David carved out of black marble, is a symbolic tomb for the millions of unburied Jews, containing ashes recovered from the concentration camps, and the heartrending Children’s Memorial showcases eerily lit photographs of some of the 11,000 children murdered. The strikingly effective installations are set against a permanent exhibition of artifacts, photographs and letters reclaimed from the camps, including video testimonies from the some of the 2,500 surviving French Jews, a library and a detailed history of anti-Semitic persecution.
Among the disturbing accounts though, there remains an optimistic outlook, with the focus finally shifting to the recovery of France’s Jewish community and modern day society, and the Memorial mission proclaimed as ‘Understanding the past to brighten the future’.