A new museum

The lion we can see in the middle of the Place Denfert-Rochereau is referred to as the “Lion de Belfort”. There is an original version, in stone, to be found in the city of Belfort in the east of France. It was created by Bartholdi, even more famous of course as the creator of the Statue of Liberty (see here and here). The lion was meant to be a symbol of resistance - the city of Belfort avoided, thanks to a long resistance, being taken by the Prussians in 1870-71. The resistance was headed by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau who thus gave his name to this place, where we find two lodges of the toll barrier called the “Wall of the Farmers General”, on which I have posted e.g. here, here, here and here and which were in operation until 1860.

Today one of the lodges houses the entrance to the Catacombs (see post here). The other one has now just opened as the “Liberation of Paris Museum” It also has the subtitles “General Leclerc Museum” and “Jean Moulin Museum”, referring to two heroes of the French Resistance and the Liberation from the Nazi occupancy. This museum existed on a smaller scale before, but opened here August 27 this year on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Paris.

The choice of the place is quite obvious as we are on top of what, deep underground, (on the same level as the catacombs) was the Paris headquarters of the “FFI” – “French Forces of the Interior” -  led by Henri Rol-Tanguy (1908-2002), who has given his name to a small part of the avenue which arrives between the two toll lodges. The avenue is the one on which the liberation troops led by General Leclerc (Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque, 1902-1947) arrived in Paris. Due to the recent celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation, there are still some French flags lining the avenue, Avenue du Général Leclerc.

We must remember that the catacombs and the "FFI" premises that we find underground are only a very small part of an enormous tunnel network, originally stone quarries. To visit, you have to go deep down - there are some very impressive stairs.

Well, I’m not going to tell here all the details about the museum, the collaboration, the resistance, the liberation… I guess that some illustrations of what can be found in the museum tell enough. 

We can see a number of things having belonged to General Leclerec…

… and to Jean Moulin. We should remember that he was not only a high-ranked civil servant before the War, he was also a good artist (cartoonist) and during the War he also opened an art gallery (in Nice) for a while as a “cover”.


claude said...

Oh que c'est un musée que j’aimerais bien visité, celui là !

Jeanie said...

This has gone to the top of the next-time list. Thank you, Peter!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Peter!
Thank you so much.