Category Archives: France

Holocaust Memorials in Paris

The city of Paris has acknowledged the plight of Jews in the multitude of memorials dedicated to the victims of the German concentration camps. Within the grounds of Pere Lachaise Cemetery each concentration camp is recognized on its own memorial.

AUSCHWITZ, the main camp, was located in Oświęcim in southern Poland to hold Polish political prisoners. The camp went on to become a major site of the Nazis’ Final Solution to the Jewish Question. Most of the Jews from all over German-occupied Europe who were sent to the camp were gassed on arrival. More than 1.3 million men, women and children died in the Auschwitz and Birkenau camps, the vast majority of whom were Jews.

Auschwitz was also known as Monowitz-Buna, Buna and Auschwitz III. The memorial consists of five emaciated figures in bronze bearing witness to the suffering and exhaustion of the deportees. A body carried in a wheelbarrow reminds us of the frightening mortality of this camp.

BIRKENAU This memorial is in the form of a column with the featureless silhouette of a human figure standing over an engraved plaque. Written in script are lines from the poet Paul Eluard: When we will no longer kill, they will be avenged … The only vow of justice has life as its echo.

BERGEN-BELSEN in northern Germany was an “exchange camp” where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war held overseas.

The memorial represents the railway tracks leading to the gates of the camp. Between the ‘railway tracks’ are footprints in various sizes representing all age groups arriving at the camp. It was in this camp that the young Anne Franck died along with her sister.

1943 They suffered and hoped. You fight for your freedom. 
1945 We broke their bodies never their minds. 

BUCHENWALD near Weimar, Germany, was one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps within Germany’s 1937 borders. Many actual or suspected communists were among the first internees. All prisoners worked primarily as forced labor in local armaments factories.

The memorial expresses the horror and violence in the concentration camp system. Three emaciated prisoners define suffering, death, solidarity and resistance.

DACHAU, north of Munich in southern Germany, was a forced labor camp which imprisoned Jews, German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded.

The two pillars forming a gateway are symbolic of the gates of Heaven. The red granite triangle represents the patch worn on political prisoners’ clothes.

A plaque to the left of the stairs is inscribed with a quotation by Edmond Michelet. We have surveyed abysses in ourselves and in others.

DRANCY was an internment camp run by the French located in a northeastern suburb of Paris. It was an assembly and detention camp for confining Jews who were later deported to the extermination camps.

The Memorial reads in translation Inscription engraved at Ninth Fort of Kaunas deported by Convoy 73. In memory of 878 Jews deported from Drancy May 15, 1944 to Kaunas (Lithuania) and Reval-Tallinn (Estonia). 22 returned in 1945.

FLOSSENBURG A map identifies the location of the camp which unlike other concentration camps was located in a remote area in the mountains of Bavaria. Quarries, arms and aviation factories surrounded it. Although the camp’s initial purpose was to exploit the forced labor of prisoners for the production of granite for Nazi architecture they eventually produced armaments for the war effort.

The imprint of a staircase of ten steep steps are visible at the base of the monument in addition to four blocks of cut stone.

MAUTHAUSEN This concentration camp was located on a hill above the market town of Mauthausen in Upper Austria. It was one of the first massive concentration camp complexes in Nazi Germany, and the last to be liberated by the Allies.

Seven blocks of were used to reproduce the monument. Stairs carved into the granite from the quarry of Mauthausen represent 186 uneven steps known as the staircase of death that prisoners had to mount with stones weighing more than 20 kilos on their backs. A bronze statue depicts an emaciated prisoner collapsing under the weight of his load.

NATZWEILER-STRUTHOF located in the Vosges Mountains in France was the only concentration camp established by the Nazis on French territory. Prisoners were mainly from the resistance movements in German-occupied territories. This labor and transit camp eventually became a place of execution.

This memorial is the form of a triangle. The red triangle identified political prisoners and the letter F was an indication to the Germans that the prisoner could speak French and could be called upon to translate. The bronze sculpture of an emaciated figure lies beneath a stone wall with the letters NN, acronym for Nacht und Nabel (a Nazi directive targeting political activists).

NEUENGAMME This camp was located near Hamburg in Northern Germany close to railway and metallurgy factories. With over 85 satellite camps the Neuengamme camp became the largest concentration camp in Northwest Germany. The memorial is created in white granite and the plaque reads in translation under this stone is a bit of ash from the seven thousand French martyrs murdered by the Nazis at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp – they died for us to live free – their families and comrades, survivors have erected this monument to their memory November 13, 1949“

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Source: https://untappedcities.com/2012/03/13/the-treasures-of-the-pere-lachaise-cemetery-part-ii/

ORANIENBURG AND SACHSENHAUSEN Used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945. The prisoners were also used as a workforce, with a large task force of prisoners from the camp sent to work in the nearby brickworks to meet Albert Speer’s vision of rebuilding Berlin. At the base of the monument, a symbolic barbed wire fence impales an emaciated prisoner.

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Source: http://historichouston1836.com/holocaust-memorials-at-pere-lachaise-cemetery-paris-france/

RAVENSBRUCK was a camp exclusively for women from 1939 to 1945, located in northern Germany. The prisoners were used as slave labor. Two hands linked in captivity and solidarity emerge from roughly hewn stones one of which is engraved; Here lies the ashes of deported women martyrs of Nazi barbarism.

Depictions in Marble and Stone

I am always awestruck by the astounding talent of artists and the intricacy of detail in statuary. Some of the most beautiful statues are found in the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno, an extensive cemetery located on a hillside in the district of Staglieno of Genoa, Italy. Covering an area of more than a square kilometre, it is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe and is famous for its monument sculpture.

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The tomb of the Consigliere family is attended by a woman praying on her knees. The sculpture was created by Luigi Orengo who worked extensively with funerary sculpture, especially in the Cemetery of Staglieno where he created dozens of tombs and funeral graves. The mausoleum is decorated with laurel leaves representing the “evergreen” memory of the deceased, and a Greek cross with four arms equal in length which is the traditional symbol of Christian faith.

 

This sculptural group was created in bronze and Carrara marble by Mariano Benlliure. The sculpture represents the funeral procession of the famous bullfighter Joselito el Gallo. The body of the deceased is carved in marble to highlight the figure. At the head of the procession a woman carries a bronze miniature of the Virgin Macarena to whom the bullfighter was very devoted.
Cemetery of San Fernando, Seville, Spain

 

christ going to tomb
I can’t find any source information on this second representation of a funeral procession. It is recorded as ‘Christ going to the tomb’, but I have no confirmation of this data. Translation of the script reads; Proceeding towards the resurrection.
Cemetery Viersen, Germany

 

Cimitero Monumentale Di Milano
This statue depicts a WWI soldier ‘s grave. Luigi Fossati (31-1-1896 – 28-10-1918) who lost his life in the battle of Somme in the Montello hills of Italy. Translation of the dedication reads: Gloomy night enveloped the heroic soul of Luigi Fussati who experienced unspeakable torments under the red dust of the Montello.
Momma and brothers Giullo, Pietro, Giuseppe, Arialdo.
In everlasting memory.
Cimitero Monumentale, Milano, Italy.

 

cypress lawn
This large monument is the burial site of lawyer LLoyd Tevis who was also a successful American business man who headed the Wells Fargo Banking and Pony Express lines for more than 20 years. The “Tevis Cup”, an equestrian endurance ride held annually which requires riders to make the 100 mile Pony Express journey from Tahoe to Auburn in one day is named for him.
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, CA, USA.

 

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Charles-Joseph Pigeon (29 March 1838 – 18 March 1915) became famous due to his invention and manufacture in 1884 of the Pigeon lamp, a non-exploding gasoline lamp. He commissioned the family grave sculpture to hold up to 18 family members. The sculpture is a life-sized image of Pigeon holding a notebook and pencil in his hand. An angel overlooks the vignette of him as he lays beside his wife on a bed.
Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France

 

Montparnasse3This marble sculpture entitled “The separation of the couple” is not a funerary monument. Until 1965 it was situated in the garden of Luxembourg and was removed because it was considered obscene. I guess they thought the dead wouldn’t mind the obscenity.
Montparnasse Cemitiere, Paris, France

 

Schaub
Heinrich Schaub, born 5 May 1843, died 29 Jan 1909
Schaub commissioned Leipzig architect Emil Franz Hänsel to design a tomb which was sculpted by Otto Wutzler and August Rantz. The monument features fluted pillars and a bronze framed bronze door. A bronze sculpture of a youth kneels in front of a door  representing the eternal kingdom of the dead.
Südfriedhof Cemetery, Leipzig. Germany

 

Staglieno
The figure which rests upon the Burrano tomb was sculpted by Piero da Verona.
Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy

Shameful

An attack on France’s biggest military graveyard, the Notre Dame de Lorette cemetery, which lies near the town of Arras in France, is the third incident of Muslim tombstone desecration in two years. In April 2008, 148 Muslim graves were vandalised and a pig’s head was hung from a tombstone. That attack came almost exactly a year after a similar incident had occurred.

Inaugurated in 1925, the cemetery houses the remains of about 40,000 victims of a series of long and bloody battles for control of northern France at the start of World War I. The Muslim quarter includes 576 tombs grouped together and turned towards Mecca. The graves of French Muslim war veterans were affected by the graffiti in the form of Swastikas and hateful slogans against Islam on the eve of Islam’s Eid-al-Adha feast. Letters which were painted upon each gravestone linked together in order to spell out anti-Islamic insults.

President Nicolas Sarkozy denounced the latest outrage as “abject and revolting,” calling it “…the expression of a repugnant racism directed against the Muslim community of France”. Police have been scouring the area in the hope of finding the culprits. The attack came almost exactly a year after a similar incident in which neo-Nazi vandals scrawled swastikas on 52 of the cemetery’s Muslim graves.

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Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/3683589/
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Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/3683589/
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Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/3683589/

Tolling of the Bell

 If you go looking for a bell in the cemetery the easiest discovery will be a gravestone engraved with the surname Bell. However, if you are looking for the symbol of a bell unrelated to the surname it will be a long search. A bell is one of the rarest symbols found on headstones and quite simply represents mourning.

Thomas Toberts  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Dead Bell in the Middle Ages was believed to frighten away evil spirits.

wikipedia
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_bell

When someone died the bell ringer passed through the streets of villages, towns or cities ringing the bell slowly and repeatedly while announcing the name of the recently deceased person and details of the funeral. The solemn ringing of the bell led mourners from the home of the deceased to the church where the funeral was held.

In 16th century Britain land for burial was sparse. Coffins were dug up and bones taken to the bone-house so that the grave could be reused. Upon opening the coffins, it was noticed that several had scratch marks on the inside. The realization that people were being buried whilst still alive led to the practice of tying a string on the wrist of the corpse which was attached to a bell above ground while a sentry sat in the cemetery overnight.

A little grave humour:
Harold, the Oakdale gravedigger, upon hearing a bell, went to go see if it was children pretending to be spirits. Sometimes it was also the wind. This time it wasn’t either. A voice from below begged, pleaded to be unburied.
“You Sarah O’Bannon?”
Yes! the voice assured.
“You were born on September 17, 1827?”
“Yes!”
“The gravestone here says you died on February 19?”
“No I’m alive, it was a mistake! Dig me up, set me free!”
“Sorry about this, ma’am,” Harold said, stepping on the bell to silence it and plugging up the copper tube with dirt. “But this is August. Whatever you is down there, you ain’t alive no more, and you ain’t comin’ up.”

The Bell of Hope was a gift from London’s St. Mary-le-Bow, which is the sister church to St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan. Installed in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Chapel in September 2002, the Bell of Hope is rung at a ceremony every year on September 11th. It has also been rung after the bombings in Madrid, 2004; London, 2005; Mumbai, 2008; Moscow, 2010; and the Boston Marathon, 2013; and for the shootings at Virginia Tech, 2007 and in Norway, 2011.

1stpauls_hopebell
Source: https://walkaboutny.com/2016/09/11/the-bell-of-hope-at-st-pauls-chapel/

The bell is inscribed:
“To the Greater Glory of God
And in Recognition of
The Enduring Links Between
The City of London
And
The City of New York”
“Forged in adversity—11.September.2001”

The La Cambe German Cemetery in Normandy, France where there are 21,222 burials with 207 belonging to unknown soldiers. A peace garden with 1,200 maple-trees is adjacent to the cemetery.

dday center
La Cambe German War Cemetery, Normandy, France. Source: http://www.dday.center/cemetery_de_lacambe.html

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Victor Noir

I follow a site called MessyNessyChic.com, and I recently discovered a post from 2015 which is perfectly suited to the subject of this blog.

victornoir_messynessychic
Source: http://www.messynessychic.com/2015/09/17/the-x-rated-paris-grave/

Nessy has provided excellent photos and narrative so I’m not going to attempt to improve on her post (if that is possible).  Read it here

http://www.messynessychic.com/2015/09/17/the-x-rated-paris-grave/

 

Martyr

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Baudin was a French medical doctor, a politician and a member of the National Assembly from 1849. While opposing the coup of Louis Bonaparte in Paris, Baudin attempted to motivate the workers to join the barricade by climbing atop it and was shot and killed in 1851. He was hailed as a martyr to the Republican cause.

pariscemeteries
Source: http://www.pariscemeteries.com/news-1/2016/8/8/then-and-now-alphonse-baudin-division-27-montmartre

Montmartre cemetery in Paris was the original burial site; his remains were later transferred to the Pantheon of Paris on 4 August 1889. The sculpture created by Aimé Millet in 1872 shows the bullet wound above his right eye.

An olive branch symbolizing peace rests between the tomb and a tablet on which his hand rests. The tablet is marked La Loi translated as The Law. A headstone attached to the tomb is inscribed; In memory of Alphonse Baudin representative of the people who died defending the law on December 3, 1851. Erected by his fellow citizens 1872.

cemeteries forgotten2
Source: http://cemeteries-forgotten-beauty.blogspot.ca/

At the head of the tomb is a Masonic hexagram supporting a wreath.

The sculptured figure is so realistic that I find something newly interesting in each of these images. Light leaving the body and death taking over are suggested by shadows in the image below. It also speaks volumes through body language with head drooped to the side, feet apart, fingers resting on the ideals he fought for.

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Source: https://www.diomedia.com/stock-photo-france-paris-montmartre-cemetery-alphonse-baudin-grave-image6010863.html

pinterest-millet-montmartre

 

 

Jesus in the Cemetery

The representation of Jesus, acknowledged by Christians as the Son of God, is commonly seen within cemeteries in the form of free standing statues or symbols on gravestones. The symbol of a crucified Jesus brings focus to our sins and his desire to save us; whereas the images of a resurrected Jesus with outstretched arms beckons and welcomes us to share in eternal life.

shepherd

The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from sin.

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Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France

Safe in the arms of Jesus.

An heir of God through Christ.

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Granada, Spain

With Christ which is far better.

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St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Acton, ON, Canada

Christ our life.

spain_granada_crucifix
Granada, Spain

Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring him.

 

Sweet bitter sleep our Father takes
Till in Christ Jesus he awakes
Then will his happy soul rejoice
To hear his blessed Saviour’s voice.  1882

st-joseph_acton_crucifix
St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Acton, ON, Canada

Friends and physicians could not save
My mortal body from the grave
Nor can the grave retain it here
When Christ my saviour shall appear.

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Evergreen Cemetery, Milton, ON, Canada

Jesus the very thought of thee.

My hope is in Christ.

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Montmartre Cemetery, Paris, France

Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep
From which none ever wake to weep.

Be ye also ready for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh. 1888

Asleep in Jesus.

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Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA, USA

CWGC Graves

Following the two World Wars, discussion and agreement by Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom (member countries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) on the burial of the dead created a standardized format encompassing burial sites, layout and size of the gravestones, and the legend on headstones.

Commonwealth countries built burial sites close to combat zones to preserve the link with the battlefield, whereas the United States and France created huge regional cemeteries intended to make a significant impression on people’s minds.

national-cemetery
National Cemetery, Los Angeles, USA

The graves were arranged in straight rows and designed to be perpetual and permanent. The material used in the headstones varied due to the requirement of a weather resistant substance or occurrence of earthquakes.

The standard used ensured that every grave was marked with a headstone, originally 76 centimetres (30”) tall, 38 cm (15”) wide, and 7.6cm (3.0”) thick,  with upper case lettering designed by MacDonald Gill.

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Graves in Germany. Image Source: thebignote.com

Each stone contained the national emblem or regimental badge, rank, name, unit, date of death and age of each casualty. In the case of burials of Victoria Cross or George Cross recipients, the regimental badge was supplemented by the Victoria Cross or George Cross emblem.

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Image Source: thebignote.com

An appropriate religious symbol was included; most often a cross denoting Christianity, and sometimes a personal dedication chosen by relatives.

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Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. J. F. Kennedy

Far away in a distant land,
Suddenly struck by death’s strong hand
A loving son, strong and brave,
Lies buried in a soldier’s grave.

bignote1
Image Source: thebignote.com

No one knows the silent heartache,
Only those can tell
Who have lost their loved ones
Without saying one farewell.
We pictured him safely returning,
We longed to clasp his hand,
But God has postponed the meeting,
Till we meet in a better land.

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Image Source: thebignote.com

No one knows the silent heartache, 
only those that have lost can tell
Of the grief that’s borne in silence
For the one we loved so well. 

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Image Source: the bignote.com

And when he gets to Heaven,
To Saint Peter he will tell:
‘Just another soldier reporting, Sir.
I’ve served my time in Hell.’ Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland

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Do not ask us if we miss him,
There is such a vacant place;
Can we e’er forget that footstep,
And that dear familiar face.

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Image Source: thebignote.com

No loved one stood beside him to bid a last farewell,
No word of comfort could he leave to those he loved so well.
We little thought his time so short in this world to remain,
Nor that from when his home he went he would never return again.

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He marched away so bravely, His young head proudly held;
His footsteps never faltered, His courage never failed,
There on the field of battle, He calmly took his place,
He fought for King and Country, And the honour of his race.

…And decades later, the men and women who served are still remembered and accorded the same burial.

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Burial Vessels

Vaults were created to prevent grave robbers from gaining access to freshly buried bodies, and were originally made of wood. Coffins, the universal symbol of death and mortality, are most often placed underground with a gravestone as a marker. Nowadays, the vault is manufactured in metal and is inserted into the ground to prevent the earth and coffin from collapsing. Collapse of the coffin causes the ground to sink and makes maintenance of the cemetery grounds difficult.

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Pere LaChaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Man that is born of a woman is of few days

A sarcophagus is an elaborate coffin which can be created in any medium; wood, stone or metal. It is often only large enough to house one body, often someone of importance, and contains no window or door. It can also be considered a monument as it has a carving or inscription.

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Ye mourning friends as you pass by
This monument survey
Learn ‘ere your solemn hour draws nigh
To choose that better way. 1813

A crypt is an underground stone chamber beneath a church, or in the wall of a religious building. Following entombment, the crypt is sealed, and a granite or marble front is attached.

In the silent tomb we leave them
Till the resurrection morn
When our Saviour will receive them
And restore their lovely form

A tomb is very similar to a sepulcher in that it is typically underground. It can vary greatly in size and often holds the containers of multiple bodies. A sepulcher is a small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried. This term is also used to describe a structure with recesses in the wall to receive ashes of the dead.

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Here in the silent tomb beneath this miry sod
Lies one who bore the Cross and trusted in his God;
Farewell, dear wife and friends, and my dear little son,
My work is finished and the prize is won. 1827

An above ground, large, free-standing structure is known as a mausoleum. It may be the resting place of an individual or a family group. It is often ornate with a small stained glass or open metalwork window. It stands as a monument and the more elaborate structures may have an interior chapel.

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Faith Mortal! Seize the transient hour
Improve each moment as it flies
Life’s a short summer, Man a flower
Dies Alas! How soon he dies. – 1831

A cairn or tumulus is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave.

The busy world is hushed
The fever of life over and our work done.

An ossuary is a container or room into which the bones of multiple dead people are placed. The catacombs are a renowned example.

Paris-Catacombs
Pere LaChaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Thy peaceful days shall keep my bones
Till that sweet day
I walk from my long sleep and leave
My bed of clay.
Sweet truth to me
I shall rise and with these eyes
My Saviour see.

Douaumont Cemetery

This post is in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme which took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. Fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, it was the largest battle of the First World War. More than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The Battle of Verdun, conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometers, became known as The Hell of Verdun. Approximately 230,000 men died out of a total of 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing).

fields of battle
I always find graves in the winter more compelling – their suffering seems never ending.

Located in northeastern France within the Verdun battlefield, the Douaumont Cemetery has been designated a national cemetery. It contains bodies collected from the battlefield at the end of the war interred in 16,142 graves, making it the largest single French military burial place of the First World War.

The simple cross military marker hosts a metal plate engraved with the name of the fallen soldier; last name, first name, middle name; Battalion; ‘Killed In France’ with the date of death. There are also a large number of Muslim markers.

Within the cemetery is a memorial known as the Douaumont Ossuary containing the skeletal remains of over 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. The tower contains beautiful stained glass windows and a bronze death-bell which is sounded at official ceremonies. At the top of the tower is a rotating red and white “lantern of the dead”, which shines on the battlefields at night.

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Source: https://worldwaroneacenturylater.wordpress.com/tag/verdun/

From FOR THE FALLEN by Laurence Binyon
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

…LEST WE FORGET

POSTSCRIPT 7/31/2016 just found an interesting article at this link.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-22/gravestone-factory-commemorating-war-dead/7650896