I was really taken by the new and modern
Shoah (Holocaust) Museum that I discovered in Paris.
It was only opened in January of 2005,
but already it is one of the most moving and well attended museums in
France, an awareness-raising center that presents the history of genocide
The museum captures your imagination as
soon as you enter what looks like a walled fortification. In the outer
courtyard one is greeted by a huge urn-like statue with the names of the
camps where the Shoah took place.
Then, before you even enter the museum,
you have walls displaying 76,000 names of Jewish men, women and children who
were murdered and who died without a grave. The crypt contains ashes of
victims collected from the camps.
There is a stark reality to the
courtyard, with the wall that faces you adorned with a huge Star of David.
The names inscribed are in order of the victims’ death or disappearance.
There is even space for new names to be added; memorial candles dot the
bottom of the giant tablets of names.
Inside I found a modern and functional
building that was light, spacious and filled with well-displayed exhibits.
The fact that there were videoed
interviews of survivors allows one to hear first hand the sad memories of
these few. The photographs, old valises, shoes and eyeglasses, teeth and
hair brought the terrible reality to my eyes.
There is no way that a younger person
can feel what these victims went through, but hearing some of them talk and
seeing the faces of the victims made the museum more personal. There is also
a room with only pictures of children
The building was designed with elevators
and ramps for the handicapped and bathroom facilities and places to leave
your belongings if you choose to walk around more comfortably.
There are guides available, and I saw
school groups of all religious denominations hearing the guides describe the
exhibits. For some, it was too terrible to see. It is a difficult exhibit
but an important one, lest we forget.
The large room with the light burning
for the unknown dead contains ashes from the camps. It was eerily silent.
There is a flame, which is a symbol of the unknown Jewish martyr who died.
It is in a large, darkened room and very moving.
So, too, was the special exhibit of the
Nuremburg Trial, showing pictures of the defendants, the accusers and the
judges. It is obviously historical, but more than that, it reminds us of the
crimes and of the punishment.
The museum hours are as follows.
Sunday-Friday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Thursday open until 10 p.m.
Closed public holidays and some Jewish
holidays. There is no entrance fee.
WHERE YOU SAY HERE YOU WILL SEE FILMS,
IS THIS THE SAME AS THE MUSEUM ABOVE? YES
Here you will see films, slides,
interviews, personal, letters, photographs and
.performances from time to time. Ask for
a list of special events planned six months in advance. These activities
include lectures, films, concerts, special events and children’s activities.
There are guided walks, too, where you can be guided through the Marais and
La Ruche, where many Jewish painters once lived. There is a display of
letters, posters and newspaper articles on anti-Semitism and the Dreyfus
Visitors are charged a fee for special
events, lectures and concerts and tours to sites outside the museum. (e.g.
Drancy for students)
For information and reservations call,
01 53 01 86 53 Monday – Friday 9:30-5 p.m IS THE ABOVE RESERVATONS
NUMBER AND TIMES FOR THE MUSEUMS YES
On the walls in the courtyard are the
names of those who died in the camps.
Some stairs and some areas are dimly
lit. Narrow entrances are necessary for security.
Many of the photographs are vivid and
not recommended for young children.
Even if you’ve visited other museums
about the Holocaust, I recommend this exceptional set of archives,
photographs, letters, records, posters that describe a collective history
and personal destinies. The 2,550 photographs call to mind the fate of
Jewish children deported and, in a general sense, the crime against
There are many floors and library or
research facilities. Inquire ahead for any special needs, like research,
groups, or tours for the disabled. On the fourth floor there is the
exhibition about Nuremburg. This alone can take a few hours if you read
The whole museum is moving and complete.
It certainly ranks with other museums on the Holocaust theme around the
world. Even the bookstore is well stocked with books on every perspective of
the events and times. The shop and library are open during the same hours as
The side wall of the building, on the
street dedicated to the martyrs, is made up of intertwined Stars of David.
It is very effective. Take time to walk around.
Best time to visit is when the groups
are gone. It is closed Saturdays and some Jewish holidays.
IS THE ABOVE DIFFERENT FROM THE MUSEUM
HOURS YOU LIST ABOVE? YES they are the same. Everything closes down Sat and
Every second Sunday there is a free tour
in English at 3pm. A list of special events is available at the entrance.
17, rue Geoffroy-L,Asnier
On the Right bank near quai de l’Hotel
de Ville and Ile St Louis
Phone: 01 42 77 44 72
Free for permanent exhibition.
Groups and Guided Tours:
Call 01 53 01 17 25/26 Reservations
Individual Guides: Call 01 42 77 44 72
It is easy to find near the river. You
can go by Metro: Saint-Paul or Hotel de Ville
or bus :67 76 69 96
It is an easy walk from Hotel de Ville
or Ile St. Louis
There is parking nearby at Place
Boudoyer, (underground) or Rue Lobaul, Pont Marie (rue de L’Hotel de Ville)
Lockers and keys provided free of
charge. There are benches provided inside and out where you can rest, write
notes or just sit quietly with your thoughts.
Ramps and elevators provided. For Info.
about access call, 01 42 77 44 72.
I visited twice while I was there. You
must take the time to examine what they offer. No matter who you are, you’ll
find it quite complete, well designed and very moving. It certainly adds a
new dimension to what we already know..
Don’t miss it.
You may want to add the Museum of Jewish
Art and History to your list of places to visit. It too is highly
recommended and it is close enough to the Pletzl, the old Jewish Quarter
where you can sample the traditional foods and crafts that are still for
Address: 71, rue du
Temple, 75003. Phone: 33 (0) 1
53 01 86 60.
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)