Thursday, April 28, 2011

War is Hell

The same day I visited the American Cemetery in Suresnes, I also stopped literally just around the corner at Mont Valérien, once a destination for religious pilgrims but more infamously during World War II, the site of numerous executions of French resisters by German forces.  There are several components of this site, not all of which were open the day of my visit.  The pictures below are from the principal monument, inaugurated in 1960, which honors those who died for France between 1939 and 1945.  Fifteen bodies were  placed in the crypt which was subsequently reopened to receive the ashes of some who died in Indochina and other victims of war.

The contrast with the lush green peace of the American site just down the hill is stark.  All stone and metal and no greenery to soften up the edges.  The best word to describe it is brutal.

What the above photo doesn't show very well are the 16 bronze reliefs by different sculptors depicting either specific battles or different aspects of the war.  Saumur (below) describes the fall of soldiers in that town in June 1940 under horrific conditions.  No romanticization of war here.

Sadly, despite this inscription, the eternal flame was not burning.

The site is always open but you should probably check the Web site before you go if you want to see all aspects of the memorial, some of which are only open limited hours.  Like the American Cemetery, the site is accessible by the Transilien commuter train from La Defense and the T2 tramway.


Shelli said...

Thank you Anne, this is interesting. There's a wall plaque I often pass that memorializes a resistant shot at Mont Valerian.

Coincidentally I had a short conversation about Mont Valerian just yesterday with someone who told me they had a friend whose property was expropriated by the state for part of the memorial.

starman1695 said...

You would think, after all these thousands of years, that countries and people would learn that war never solves anything. If you did think'd be wrong.

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