Don’t forget to step inside the Tomb of the Unknown Jewish Martyr, a hauntingly poignant place.
Literally translating as “The Calamity”, Shoah has long been the standard Hebrew word for the Holocaust, and this memorial is dedicated to its victims. Located on the right bank of the Seine, in the district of Le Marais, it serves as a chilling reminder of one of Mankind’s darkest hours, but its museum is well put-together and informative too.
The Death Wall
Passing through the rather heavily-guarded entrance, you will first come to the large circular memorial in the centre of the courtyard. Inscribed around it are the names of the major death camps used by the Nazis during their genocide. Beyond this, as you move towards the entrance to the museum, there is a wall which at a distance seems to be covered in a minute, regular pattern. As you get closer, you have the disturbing realisation that this pattern is in fact a list of 76,000 names, all Jews who were deported from occupied France and executed.
The underground museum acts as both a memorial and a place where visitors can learn more about the Holocaust, and also about the history of European anti-semitism more broadly. Through films, recordings, text and photographs, it explores the unique challenges and struggles faced by Jews living in France under the Nazi regime. Particularly heartbreaking is the Children’s Memorial, an eerily lit room displaying photos of some 11,000 murdered Jewish children. The Memorial of the Shoah isn’t the easiest place to visit in Paris, but it is one of the most powerful.
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