E-Mailing Through Europe >> French Alps 2001
Date: Fri, 27 Jul 2001 10:33:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: k p email@example.com
Last afternoon, I spent an hour at the Musee de la Resistance et le Deportation. The musuem, as the name indicates, records the history of France in World War II. It didn't pull any punches on the behavior of some of the French people, and it contained some very moving items from the time period.
The museum (which had about half the exhibits translated in English, and I know enough French to get the gist of the other half) described the honorable resistance of the people of the region surrounding Grenoble, which was one of the resistance hot spots during the war. Perhaps its best know because the Nazis executed 800 Free French in one day during the war. They had graphic pictures of the roughed-up bodies of the French fighters in coffins, descriptions of their victories (and frequently, eventual capture) as well as some of the materials they used to fight the Nazis.
They also described in detail the activities of the local Vichy government officials that collaborated with the Germans. Not so honorable, these people. They sent countless of their contrymen, mostly Jews of course, to the death camps. One of the articles of surrender that the French agreed to in 1939 was to send Germany huge amounts of food and munitions to support their war effort. I handn't known that, and these officials were responsible for delivering it.
At the same time, the musuem documented the deportation in great detail.
For me, the most compelling pieces they displayed were the identity papers of French citizens with their pictures and JUIF stamped over their names. There's a real difference between the statistic 6 million and the individual papers of Jean Feldman and others who were persecuted then sent off to the camps.
The exhibit ended with descriptions of modern human rights violators and the importance that we never forget what happened.
From there, I had a quick dinner, met my mosquito friends, and sort-of fell asleep.