I’m sad about what has happened in this beautiful city over recent days.
Paris is such an amazing place and there are so many picture postcard views and sights, wonderful people and opportunities to experience the diverse culture.
But it’s still a city like any other. There are well told tales and events in history, but you can walk past places and not even realise there are stories buried deep beneath the stonework, events that are now just a remnant in the ground.
Exploring history takes you to many distant and dark places, but it also reveals great tales of courage and hope.
On 16 and 17 July 1942, 4,115 children, 2,916 women and 1,129 men were arrested and kept at Vélodrome d’Hiver in inhumane conditions by the Vichy government police, on the orders of the Nazi occupiers. They were later deported to Auschwitz where they were murdered.
Apartment building on the old site of the Vélodrome d’Hiver
Vélodrome d’Hiver, july 1942
source photo : Yad Vashem Photo Archive
crédit photo : D.R
The Grand Mosque of Paris
Behind these walls, in the sanctuary of this tranquil place, many Jewish lives were saved. The Jews who came or were brought here were given food and shelter. They were provided with fake documents marked ‘Muslim’ so they would not be harmed by the Vichy government police.
This was a spontaneous act of humanity by the Muslims who lived at the mosque, and the Muslims of France. People who acted simply because they cared about other human beings regardless of race or religion.
… if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” – Quran 5:32
The Vel D’Hiv Roundup
Behind this door, the lists were produced of Jews – men, women and children to be arrested and deported.
This peaceful marketplace was once the scene of torture for members of the Resistance.
Three doctors at this hospital risked their lives to provide members of the Resistance with medical supplies and treatment.
Behind these doors is a beautiful temple of worship for people of the Jewish faith.
According the smiling lady who kindly allowed us to see inside, people slept at this synagogue during WW11 to protect it from harm.
Paris is a city throbbing with people and life. A city with so much history, beauty and sadness.
It’s a city rich with layers and inspiration for writers and other artists.
It’s a city well worth exploring beyond The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower and other popular places.
Being here is certainly enriching my understanding and adding layers of meaning to my story.
Happy writing and researching 🙂
This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria