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One by one, Paris memorial pays tribute to Holocaust victims
By Angela Doland, Associated Press | January 20, 2005

PARIS -- With name after name engraved on pale stone walls, a new monument in the city's Jewish quarter pays tribute to the 76,000 Jews rounded up in France during the Holocaust and sent to Nazi death camps.

France marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland with memories, a monument -- and a national outcry over a remark by far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen that the Nazi occupation of France during World War II ''was not particularly inhumane."

The "Wall of Names"

A wall of photos at the exibition of some of the 76,000 people deported from France to Nazi death camps in WWII, at the Holocaust memorial in central Paris' jewish quarter Wednesday Jan 19, 2005. The renovated Holocaust memorial will be inaugurated by French President Chirac on Jan. 25, 2005 (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

The ''Wall of Names," shown to reporters yesterday ahead of an inauguration by President Jacques Chirac next week, is part of a renovated Holocaust memorial that has been transformed from an archive center and expanded.

A simple plaque is the monument's heart-wrenching companion piece. From the sea of 76,000 names, it says, only 2,500 people survived.

To arrive at the list, 10 specialists spent 2 years gathering information from Gestapo documents and research from French families.

Under columns for each year of the deportations, the engravings list the victims alphabetically and include their dates of birth. Some unidentified victims are referred to as ''a child."

The wall is meant to remind visitors of the millions of individual tragedies in the Holocaust, officials said.

''In the list of all 76,000 names, there is also 'a name plus a name plus a name,' " director Jacques Fredj said.

The memorial also is a reminder of a dark period of French history, France's wartime collaboration with the Nazis.

In 1995, Chirac became the first president to acknowledge that France was responsible for systematically persecuting Jews during the war. In one case, 13,152 Jews were rounded up in a bicycle stadium in Paris in July 1942 and sent to death camps.

Fredj mentioned Chirac's acknowledgment, and the work of a commission to help compensate Jews for assets seized during the war, as a sign that France was coming to terms with its past. The memorial's renovation was funded partly by the government.

The revamped memorial, which will host conferences and exhibits, opens Jan. 27, 60 years to the day Auschwitz was liberated.

But the occasion has been marred by an outcry over the most recent remark by Le Pen, 76: that the Nazi occupation wasn't so bad. Le Pen was quoted as telling a magazine this month: ''In France at least, the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, even if there were blunders."

Le Pen has been convicted of racism or anti-Semitism six times.

Justice Minister Dominique Perben has said Le Pen must face the law for his remarks, and prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation.

France has been troubled by a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years. The government counted 194 racist and anti-Semitic acts in 2004, an increase from 112 acts during 2003.



© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.
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