Dividing Paris is the Seine and its two islands. Traversing is always a pleasant walk filled with landmarks, boats, street musicians and gardens. There is one small triangular garden we have always passed by, but since we had time, we strolled in. In the corner was a small shed with signs and a person inside. Something about “Deportees”. Curiosity got to us. There were stairs leading down….
Stark. Bleak. An entrance?
Inside could not have been starker or bleaker. Or more confronting.
Dark claustrophobic rooms, no windows, words scratched into the stone. Cold, silent and airless.
This is the Mémorial des martyrs de la Déportation – a commemoration of French people sent to Nazi concentration camps in WWII. In the photo above, one button attached to the wall represents one soul sent to the camps.
Other rooms represented the dire conditions, the cold-blooded efficiency, the struggle and futile resistance. All with the appearance of gas chambers.
Prisoner drawings and letters, Nazi documents and passenger lists.
When we emerged into the bright street a beggar was playing a delightful, uplifting tune on his accordion and I was a little overcome.