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In Paris, we traveled to two memorial sites specific to the Holocaust. One being the Mémorial de la Shoah (Memorial of the Shoah) and the other the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation (Memorial of the Martyrs of the Deportation). These memorials had certain similarities in that they both commemorated Jewish people who died as a result of the holocaust. The styling, however, was different in some ways. The Memorial of the Shoah offered more information about the Holocaust to accompany the more memorial components, while the Memorial of the Martyrs of the Deportation offered some background, but was mostly used as a memorial with little guidance on how to interpret it (unless you listened to the audio guide). At each site, the people impacted were memorialized in different ways. The Memorial of the Shoah listed names on walls at the entrance, while the Memorial of the Martyrs listed the names of camps that the deportees were sent to.

A common theme between the two were spelling mistakes, due to the fact that information was limited immediately following the war and the records of names were kept by Nazis during the Holocaust. The two sites, however, had different attitudes about how to respond to finding out mistakes had been made. At the Memorial of the Shoah, there was a commitment to fixing the spelling of the name when they learned of a mistake. So much so that they plan to redo the wall of names once they believe they’ve collected all the correct information. In contrast, the Memorial of the Martyrs has not and does not intend to correct its misspelling of some of the camps. Some may find this attitude troubling, but the audio guide offered a very interesting rationale for leaving the misspelling. As the memorial was opened in 1962, the misspellings reflect the knowledge of the time, and leaving them can show how slowly details came forward about what the Nazis has done. By memorializing in these different ways, the two sites demonstrate different ways of understanding the memory they present. The Memorial of the Shoah is ever-evolving to meet the current information, while the Memorial of the Martyrs presents the memory as it was in the time of the memorial’s opening.