New Holocaust memorial in Paris set to open

23rd January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 23 (AFP) - More than 2,000 survivors and relatives of victims of the Jewish Holocaust attended a ceremony of inauguration Sunday at a new Holocaust memorial and studies centre in central Paris, two days before it is officially opened by President Jacques Chirac.

PARIS, Jan 23 (AFP) - More than 2,000 survivors and relatives of victims of the Jewish Holocaust attended a ceremony of inauguration Sunday at a new Holocaust memorial and studies centre in central Paris, two days before it is officially opened by President Jacques Chirac.

Situated in the historic Jewish quarter in the Marais district, the Holocaust Memorial will be open to the public on Thursday - the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Officially described as "museum, place of memory and documentation-centre," the memorial is an expansion of two long-standing institutions: the Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr and the Centre for Contemporary Jewish Documentation.

Sponsors say it will become Europe's main reference point on the Jewish Holocaust - the equivalent of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

"(The Memorial) will help in teaching a story that continues to haunt our everyday life, but it will also encourage reflection on tolerance, liberty and democracy by focussing on a crime that is unique in human history," said its president Eric de Rothschild.

Lining the approach to the memorial is a newly-constructed "Wall of Names" which bears the names and dates of birth of the 76,000 Jews - 11,000 of them children - deported from France between 1942 and 1944. Nearly all were killed - mostly at Auschwitz.

Six researchers took two years to compile the list, drawing on Gestapo secret police records as well as Jewish archives.

"When the last witness disappears, this wall of memory will continue to express the scale of the collective tragedy," said Serge Klarsfeld, president of the Association of Sons and Daughters of French Deportees.

Inside, the centrepiece remains the crypt which was built in 1956 as a memorial to holocaust victims. Above this have been constructed 5,000 square metres of exhibition spaces, offices, archives, multimedia areas and an auditorium.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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