The discovery of the chapel of Mont Valérien
Image source: Charlotte Bourdon, ONACVG
Built in the early 19th century as a private chapel, the building acquired a new purpose when Mont Valérien was occupied by the German army and became an execution site during the Second World War. The deconsecrated chapel was where the prisoners were held prior to their execution by firing squad. As the munitions store where they were originally to be held was not sufficiently secure, the hostages executed on 11 August and 21 September 1942 and 2 October 1943 were put here on their arrival, mostly from the fort of Romainville, on the morning of their execution. In the hope of leaving a final testimony or a message for their families, some carved inscriptions here.
On 26 August 1944, Mont Valérien was liberated by members of the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). When they entered the chapel, they found graffiti on its walls. These made a powerful impression on commander Dalsace and his comrades:
At the end of a short path, we suddenly came upon a small chapel. We went in and, in the semi-darkness, we were able to read on the walls the moving messages and inscriptions left by our comrades before [...] they were led away to their deaths. I could not hold back the tears as I read these awe-inspiring words, full of sadness and faith in the future of France.
Today, 31 inscriptions can still be seen, although they have deteriorated with time. An extraordinary reminder of the men’s passage through Mont Valérien, the graffiti in the chapel is itself historical heritage. The last words of those who wrote them.
Find out more:
View the booklet presenting this Major National Remembrance Site and visit its website.
View the catalogue of an exhibition on the Mont Valérien graffit
Find out more about the history and latest news of the Mont Valérien memorial on its Facebook page
Chapelle du Mont-Valérien ©CharlotteBourdonONACVG