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Normandy Scholars Lost in Paris

Paris is one of my favorite places in the whole world. This was my second trip to the aptly named city of light, but my first trip to Paris with any kind of academic focus. Obviously, I had already been to some of the major sites like the Louvre Museum, but I had never really considered the history in Paris. Perhaps that is because the people in France and especially in Paris prefer to just not think about the Second World War. For the French people, the War is not only a symbol of violent occupation, it is also representing a period of time in which some French actively assisted in the Holocaust. The memorial to deportees and the Shoah memorial are both excellent examples of the deeper historical context in the city of Paris. The memorial to the deportees was particularly interesting to me. I enjoyed that it took a very broad view of the groups involved in the Holocaust. One particular image showed the different types of patches that were sewn into the concentration camp uniforms. All the different colors and shapes of those patches broke down who you were to a handful of colors and labels by which a guard could judge you in the camp. Pink for Homosexuals, red for communists, and yellow for Jews. The memorial showed that there were many victims of French collaboration with the Nazi Reich without under emphasizing the particular pain felt by the Jewish community many of whom were sent to death camps in the final years of the war. Beyond the things that we saw for class, it was really nice to have some free time in such a wonderful city. I was able to visit the Musée d’Orsay and see all of the Monet and Van Gogh paintings there; as well as, pay a visit to the Père la Chaise cemetery to see the graves of some famous figures like Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, and Georges Mielies.