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Holocaust Memorials at Père Lachaise - Part 3: Broken Mirror (1972-1980)

This is the third part of a four part series about the concentration camp memorials at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. I should probably have entitled this entry "La vie en rose..."
Ravensbrück Resurrection Rose
(photo source: La Roseraie du Val-de-Marne)
Stage 3: The Broken Mirror (1972-1980)
The Broken Mirror stage emerged shortly after de Gaulle’s death in 1970. The Gaullist Myth died along with de Gaulle himself, and France was now left to deal with the harsh truth. Rousso gives much credit to the 1969 release of Marcel Ophüls Le Chagrin et la Pitié. Running over four hours in length (yes, I have watched it all!), Le Chagrin et la Pitié (English title, The Sorrow and the Pity) is a remarkable documentary that delves into the collective memory of France during WWII. It is significant because it dispels the Gaullist myth of a united, patriotic France and instead paints a picture that is far darker (and more honest) of a deeply divided France. Many who did not wish to have their mythical Gaullist bubble burst were vehemently opposed to the documentary. As a result, Ophüls and his cohorts were crudely dubbed fouilleurs de merde (excavators of shit) and the slightly less offensive videurs de poubelles (bouncers of garbage).[1]
No sculptural memorials were inaugurated at Père Lachaise during the Broken Mirror stage. This makes sense in that France was beginning to come to terms with its role during the occupation. Prior to de Gaulle’s death, the French were assured that those who died did so at the hands of the Nazi occupiers. Now, thanks to Le Chagrin et la Pitié, the nation was forced to reassess its own culpability. This may have left France uneasy about further memorializing the victims of the Occupation. Crimes that were once easily contributed to “Nazi barbarism” were now being recognized as crimes perpetrated by the French, too.
Ravensbrück Rose - a Living Memorial at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
(photo by Jennifer Boyer-Switala)
Although there were no new sculptural memorials during this period, the inauguration of the subtler Ravensbrück Resurrection Rose living memorial was most likely during the Broken Mirror stage.[2] Michel Kriloff created this hybrid rose in 1974 to celebrate peace, tolerance, and freedom and to pay tribute to the women who did not survive Ravensbrück camp.[3] It was inspired by a poem written by Marcelle Dudach-Roset and is engraved on the stele at the living memorial:
I am "Resurrection"
and all through the years,
all through the seasons,
I will remain a life witness
who will protect from barbarism
all the children of the world,
even when I have become a wild rose
lighting the way for everyone.
           
The Ravensbrück "Resurrection" Rose, Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
(photo by Jennifer Boyer-Switala)
In fact, Dudach-Roset was very involved in bringing the general public’s attention to the Resurrection Rose. Dudach-Roset was a Bretonne and résistante who wrote about the purpose of the Resurrection Rose in Ami entends-tu: Journal de la Résistance Morbihannaise in 1974.  She explained, “I gave this rose named "Resurrection,” to my friends at the Association of Ravensbrück. And through it, the Resurrection rose will be for the 30th anniversary (of liberation), dedicated to the Resistance, the whole Deportation.”[4]
Throughout the article, she constantly talks about the importance of bearing witness and that this will be the purpose of the rose, especially once those who survived have passed. She asked, “Who will testify after the last of us?” The Resurrection Rose was her answer. “…to glorify this anniversary I found life through the creation of a rose. And this rose, this lively pink rose, when the last of us will go, this rose will be our lasting testimony. It will extend our historical truth, our will to struggle against forgetting.”[5]
This is intriguing on a couple of levels. First, she is adamant about not forgetting and expresses her feelings during the Broken Mirror stage - a stage filled with turmoil and a reshaping of national memory. If there was any question about leaving the past behind, this clearly was not the intention of camp survivors. The second aspect of interest is that she talks about memorializing the resistance and deportees, but never mentions Jews. As with the other poetic inscriptions on the Père Lachaise memorials, the poet is not Jewish, but was a member of the Résistance. Despite the absence of any mention of Jews on the Ravensbrück memorials, Dudach-Roset’s words are still appropriate, since Ravensbrück was the camp to which most of the women of the French Résistance were sent, including Dudach-Roset herself. Dudach-Roset’s words reflect the shift in national memory toward the fourth stage, Obsession.
Ravensbrück Roses are also found at La Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, Paris
(photo by Jennifer Boyer-Switala)
Also for the 30th Anniversary...Mme. Giscard d'Estaing was the First Lady of France between 1974-1981, further supporting my theory that the similar memorial at Père Lachaise would have been inaugurated during the Broken Mirror stage.
(photo by Jennifer Boyer-Switala)




[1] Tony McNeill. The Vichy Syndrome: Coming to Terms with Les Années Noirs.
[2] Despite my extensive research on this variety of rose, I could not find an exact inauguration date for this memorial at Père Lachaise. I do, however, have a photo of a similar living memorial that exists outside the Memorial to the Deportees. This Ravensbrück Resurrection Rose memorial garden was also created for the 30th anniversary of the camp’s liberation and is dated 26 April 1975.
[3] La Voix du Nord. “’Resurrection,’ the rose of Ravensbrück, will now flourish in college Monod.”
[4] Marcelle Dudach-Roset. “Rose.” Ami entends-tu: Journal de la Résistance Morbihannaise.
[5] Ibid.

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