70 years after the start of the deportation of the Jews of France towards nazi extermination camps, the Shoah Memorial inaugurated in September 2012 at Drancy, a new space destined for the history and education of the period, opposite the Cité de la Muette. The project came about on the initiative and thanks to the financial support of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. The center's mission is to present the history of the Drancy camp.
From the Cité de la Muette to the internment camp
Built as a collective living space in the 1930s but never finished, the Cité de la Muette became an internment camp in 1941, and then in 1942 a regroupment camp for the Jews of France in preparation for their deportation towards extermination camps. Between March, 1942, and August, 1944, approximately 63,000 of the 76,000 Jews deported from France went through Drancy. The Cité de la Muette was once again inhabited after 1948, and since then has been reminded of the history of the Drancy camp there: with commemorative plaques, the erection of a memorial monument and in 2001, when the buildings were officially classed as historical monuments.
The memorial which has been constructed on a stretch of land graciously donated by the municipality of Drancy, was designed by the Swiss architect Roger Diener as a building that should be sober and dignified. The result is respectful of the site and urban environment, offering the visitor a panoramic view onto the Cité de la Muette. It is made up of 5 levels: a conference room in the basement, reception spaces on the ground floor, educational rooms in which to receive groups, and a documentation center. A permanent exhibition, to which the filmmakers Patrick Rotman and Dephine Gleize have contributed, retraces the history and function of the camp as well as the daily lives of those interned there.
The Shoah Memorial at Drancy complements the Shoah Memorial in Paris. It's a place for mediation between the site of the former camp and the public, a place of history and of transmission. It will allow students as well as the general public to learn more about the history of the Cité de la Muette, and notably the central role of the Drancy camp in the exclusion of the Jews of France during the Second World War and in the implementation of the “Final Solution” by the nazis in France, with the complicity of the Vichy government.