Jewish Heritage Europe

Commemoration: Reflections on Memorializing the Jewish community of Amiens, France

Writing in the Pittsburgh, PA Jewish Chronicle, David Rosenberg reflects on his involvement, as an American, in shaping the way that the destroyed Jewish community in Amiens, France, is memorialized. 

He writes how, before arriving in Amiens in the summer of 2011, he had read about a new memorial in a square that had been renamed to commemorate the roundup and deportation of Amiens Jews in 1944 and had been “moved to see that efforts were being made to fill the void of memory that existed in the town concerning this chapter of its history.”

However, when when he got there and saw the plaque and the square:

I was disappointed. The square was really on the outskirts of town in an area that wouldn’t bear much tourist or even normal pedestrian traffic, and the plaque itself was a rather unprepossessing sort of monument, a laminated rectangle stuck on top of a small, curved blue metal pipe.

Moreover, there were factual errors in the text of the plaque both in regard to the introduction and in regard to the list of names themselves. Of the 20 named individuals who were said to have been deported to Auschwitz on Convoy 66 from Drancy, one in fact was rescued at the Amiens train station, two others were sent to local hospitals, four were released because they were married to non-Jews, one was deported with another convoy and one returned from the camps. Hence, the description, “arrested, deported on Convoy 66 and lost in Auschwitz,” proves fully accurate for only 12 of the 20 people listed on the plaque.

He became involved in trying to rectify this. There was a meeting at City Hall to see if  some of the problems could be addressed. The suggestion emerged to erect a historical marker at the site of the now-vanished Amiens synagogue, which was used as a furniture warehouse after World War II but now had vanished:

This synagogue had been in the center of Amiens, and a marker there could highlight the Jewish presence in and contributions to the city. As such, it could be a means of educating citizens and tourists alike.

Read more: The Jewish Chronicle – Memorializing in Amiens