Presentation of the Memorial

The Shoah Memorial, an instrument of our time

The Shoah Memorial was opened to the public in January 2005, rue Geoffroy l’Asnier, on the site of the Mémorial du Martyr Juif Inconnu (Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr).

Situated at this turning point of the « century of genocides », open to the new century, the new institution is intended as a bridge between the men and women who were contemporaries of the Shoah and those who did not experience this period of history, either directly or through the mediation of their parents.

Although it is a continuation of the CDJC and the Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr, the Shoah Memorial is also a new phase in the transmission of the memory and the lessons of the Shoah, which so far had been essentially borne by the direct witnesses of the extermination of Jews of Europe.

Why and how should the Shoah be « taught » in the 21st century? Such issues are at the heart of the Memorial’s mission, at the heart of the work of the historians, researchers and educators who come together here to be a source of inspiration open to all, ready to welcome the new generations.

The Memorial is a resource center, the first and foremost collection of archives on the Shoah in Europe, but it is also a « museum of vigilance », designed to learn, understand and experience, because now and forever it will always be necessary to construct « a rampart against oblivion, against a rekindling of hatred and contempt for man », to quote Eric de Rothschild, President of the Memorial.

Memorial activities

To carry out its mission, the Shoah Memorial offers a selection of resources and specific services for different kinds of audiences.

The Centre de Documentation (Documentation Center) is the historical instrument for the transmission of knowledge on the Shoah and, in particular, the story of French Jews during the Second World War. Open to all, ranging from researchers to schoolchildren, the Documentation Center has a collection of over a million archives, 75,000 photos and 55,000 books. Archives originated in particular from the German administration and Gestapo in France, trials including Nuremberg and French sources such as the Commissariat Général aux questions juives (General Commission for Jewish Affairs).

The Museum: the permanent exhibition offers a chronological and thematic visit composed of twelve sequences depicting the history of Jews in France during the Shoah. The exhibition alternates between individual destinies and collective history. Based on the archives of the Documentation Center, with regular new additions, the museum is accessible to any kind of public. A special visit is designed for children over 8 years of age.

Temporary exhibitions: As a complement to the museum, temporary exhibitions are based on historic, artistic and literary themes. In contrast to the museum which focuses on the condition of Jews in France during the Second World War, temporary exhibitions are also designed to shed light on the plight of Jews in other European countries.

Pedagogical and training activities: The Shoah Memorial is pursuing and intensifying the awareness campaigns of recent years to involve younger audiences. We invite classes to visit our premises, organize slide shows and meetings in partnership with the Forum des Images (Imagery Forum) and pedagogical workshops. The training programs for adults, teachers in particular, are diversified: visits to sites of commemoration including notably Auschwitz, Summer University, specific one-day training sessions.

The auditorium can host up to 120 people for lectures, debates, conferences, presentations, slide shows and concerts. When the Memorial organizes such events elsewhere, in cooperation with other institutions more people can be accommodated.

The multimedia learning center: Situated on the mezzanine over the Memorial bookshop, the multimedia center has 12 workstations where visitors can view video testimonies, reference documents about the Shoah and consult the Shoah encyclopedia which is an original multimedia program developed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, added to by the Paris Shoah Memorial.

The bookshop: On the ground floor of the Shoah Memorial, on the corner of the Allée des Justes and the Rue du Pont-Louis-Philippe, the bookshop specializes in the genocide of European Jews and contains a broad selection of books on Nazism, the resistance and the history and culture of the Jewish people. Over 1000 references are available, ranging from classics to the latest publications.

The Review and other publications: The publication of the « History of the Shoah Review » and a number of monographs are the visible part of the Memorial’s research activities. Created in 1946, the « History of the Shoah Review-Jewish World » (Revue d’histoire de la Shoah – Le monde juif) studies the genocide of Jews by Hitler’s Germany and the diversity of cultural reflections it inspires. It also considers other genocides of the 20th century.

Services for families of victim: The children, grandchildren and close relatives of victims of the Shoah are offered advice and assistance in their search for information, i.e. to find a relative using the lists of Jews deported from France or produce documentation for an indemnification claim.

Visits to sites of commemoration: Every year, the Memorial organizes pedagogical visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, open to all, ranging from school groups to individuals. The Memorial also provides help and advice to organize, on request, projects to other Shoah memorial sites, in France or abroad.