Friday, May 9, 2008

Paris - Tomb of the Unknown Deportee

War memorials are terribly important, as they provide a moving testament to the human tragedy of past war, as well as a reminder that we should do all in our power to prevent war in the future. Situated Behind Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cité is a monument to the many thousands of Jews who were deported from Paris by the Nazis in World War II. It marks the area on the Seine where the deportees were loaded onto boats to be sent from Paris to the concentration camps. From the outside of the memorial (above), you descend down to the level of the river, where there are several sculptures and inscriptions as reminders of these horrible years. There is a far more eloquent description than I can muster in the Melbourne Age, one of Australia's foremost newspapers.

Finally, you peer through a dark corridor (below) that recreates the terror that enfolded these deportees as they were bundled onto the boats. The corridor is lit by thousands of tiny quartz stones that reflect light, each one representing a soul who was forced on this journey. The effect is eerie, and not a little scary, and it certainly makes you think of how absolutely terrifying it must have been for them. The Tomb of the Unknown Deportee is in the foreground.


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