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80 years after 1942

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After paying tribute in 2021 to the first civilian and military resistance, over the coming months the Ministry of the Armed Forces and partners will commemorate the fighting and events of 1942.

Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Operation Jubilee, Square du Canada, Dieppe, 2012. © Erwan Lesné/Ville de Dieppe Text
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Following on from the commemorative years 2020 and 2021, the Ministry of the Armed Forces Directorate for Heritage, Remembrance and Archives (DPMA) and its partners are providing backing and support for remembrance, heritage and educational initiatives as part of commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Second World War. 1942 represented a decisive turnaround for the outcome of the conflict. As the confrontations went on in North Africa and the Soviet Union, the Nazis decided to implement the “Final Solution”, extending it progressively throughout occupied Europe.

Remembering at home and abroad

In this new commemorative year, a great many cultural organisations, voluntary groups and institutional actors have got involved. First of all, museums and remembrance sites are planning a rich programme around the events of 1942. For example, from September 2022, the La Coupole history centre in Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais, Hauts-de-France) will be inviting visitors to rediscover the exhibition 1942, le temps des rafles dans le Nord de la France et en Belgique (1942, the period of roundups in northern France and Belgium), to mark the 80th anniversary of the roundup of 11 July 1942. Meanwhile, the Memorial to the Deportees of Mayenne (Mayenne, Pays de la Loire) will carry on with its programme of events titled Destins brisés (Broken destinies), launched in October 2020, in memory of the Jews who were arrested and deported from Mayenne. The arrests of Jews in 1942 will also be remembered in the French capital. On Sunday, 17 July, the National day of remembrance of the victims of racist and antisemitic crimes by the French State and in honour of the Righteous of France will include ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup.

This commemorative cycle will also include events that shed light on local connections to 1942. For instance, Association Jubilee, which manages the Mémorial du 19 août 1942, will be taking part in the 80th anniversary commemorations of the Dieppe raid and, this summer, will host Quebecois artist Nicolas Paquin for a show based on the episode, along with a book-signing session.

The scope of the 2022 commemorations is also intended to extend beyond the French borders. In May 2022, the Compiègne Internment and Deportation Memorial (Oise, Hauts-de-France) will be teaming up with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial to hold an evening of remembrance of the first two convoys of deportees to leave France 80 years ago. This commemorative year will also involve the overseas territories of Reunion and Madagascar, which rallied to the cause of Free France in 1942. Lastly, remembering the fighting engaged in by Free France in North Africa, in particular at Bir Hakeim, and Operation Torch, conducted by the British and Americans, will be an opportunity for France and her Allies to commemorate their shared struggle for freedom.

Armed forces mobilised

The Ministry of the Armed Forces, the guardian of rich and varied cultural and remembrance heritage, is also one of the key protagonists of the commemorations. The most interesting projects submitted by voluntary organisations, local authorities and schools, in France or under the aegis of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), will have the chance to receive funding, support and promotion through the Actions Mémoire 2022 label. The Ministry is also working to make numerous resources available, as shown by the publication of this issue of Les Chemins de la Mémoire or the expansion of the digital area devoted to the commemorations. Created on the website www.cheminsdememoire.gouv.fr in 2020, the digital area is regularly updated with new historical, learning and audiovisual content. It also spotlights the latest news from special partners, like the remembrance foundations, and members of the Museums and Memorials of Contemporary Conflicts (MMCC) network, which is run by the DPMA.

Lastly, the DPMA will pay tribute to illustrious figures, such as generals Juin, Leclerc de Hauteclocque or de Lattre de Tassigny, who were awarded the honorary title of Marshal of France 70 years ago.

Whether digital or physical, there will be a wide variety of exhibitions to see. One will be organised at the Memorial of Combatant France, on Mont Valérien (Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine), a Major National Remembrance Site of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, on the execution carried out in its clearing on 11 August 1942. It will shed light on the stories of some of the 88 men condemned to death in retaliation for the assassination of German soldiers at Jean Bouin stadium in Paris. In addition, the website www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr, devoted to historical and genealogical research, offers the opportunity to learn more about their identities. Finally, the Paris section of the National Office for Veterans and Victims of War (ONAC-VG), a Ministry of the Armed Forces operator, is loaning two touring exhibitions in connection with 1942: La Bataille de Bir Hakeim (mai-juin 1942) [The Battle of Bir Hakeim (May-June 1942)] and Vers la victoire, la France au combat de 1942 à 1945 (Towards victory: France in combat, 1942 to 1945).

A learning opportunity

In French secondary schools, an important place is assigned in the curriculum to the study of the Second World War, the conflict being taught in troisième (ages 14-15), and also in terminale (ages 17-18) for the general, vocational and technical baccalauréat. As part of its partnership with the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports and, for agricultural education, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the DPMA offers a wide range of worksheets for download from the defence education platform, Educ@def. These offer the opportunity, for example, to look in class at the story of resistance of the students of Lycée Buffon, or to gain an insight into the mysteries surrounding the publication of Le Silence de la Mer (Put Out the Light/The Silence of the Sea). A whole series of events are also planned by remembrance sites, for learning and, more broadly, historical awareness purposes. Round tables will also be held at Mont Valérien on the theme of the major trials of 1942, like that of the French Assembly versus seven young members of the Resistance. In partnership with the Paris section of ONAC-VG, a number of classes will work on German propaganda, using archive film footage of the trials.


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