World Memorial for 6,000,000 Jewish Martyrs Dedicated in Paris
Menu JTA Search

World Memorial for 6,000,000 Jewish Martyrs Dedicated in Paris

Download PDF for this date

The World Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr, a symbol commemorating the six million European Jews exterminated by the Nazi regime, was formally dedicated here today against the background of an emergency session of the French Cabinet meeting to discuss action in the crisis precipitated by Israel’s invasion of the Sinai peninsula.

More than 1,000 persons gathered at the site of the memorial, behind the Paris City Hall in the oldest part of the city, where Jews have been living continuously since the Middle Ages. Immediately after the strains of the “Marseillaise” died away, loudspeakers announced that Rene Coty, President of France, who had been scheduled to preside at the ceremony, would not be present because he was at the Cabinet session.

The speakers at the inauguration included Justin Godart, former Cabinet Minister and president of the French committee for the memorial; Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the world committee for the memorial; Baron Guy de Rothschild, president of the French Consistory; Pierre Rouais, president of the Paris Municipal Council; the Grand Rabbi of France, Jacob Kaplan, and Israel Ambassador Yaacov Tsur.

Dr. Goldmann pointed out that the memorial was a triple symbol: as a reminder that this barbaric crime would never be forgotten; as a warning to the world not to again underestimate the significance of movements like Hitlerism, and as the hope that this generation would bear out the faith of the martyrs who knew as they went to their death that the Jewish people would survive and that such a crime would never again be possible.

M. Godart declared that the “memorial is not a call to hatred, for the crime itself will be its own eternal curse. It is rather a call never to permit the faith and spirit of any man to undergo a similar ordeal.” M. Rouais said that the choice of Paris as the site for the memorial had been welcomed by the people of the city. Never, he insisted, would Paris forget the “nightmare of the trapped and fleeing Jew.”


The ceremony was closed by a benediction by Rabbi Kaplan, the chanting of El Mole by a cantor who had survived Auschwitz and the recitation of Kaddish by a boy whose parents had perished in a Nazi camp. Then Andre Le Trocquet, president or the French National Assembly and representative of President Coty, cut the ribbon across the entrance to the memorial. Queen Mother Elizabeth of Belgium is scheduled to lay a wreath at the foot of the memorial later today.

The memorial; a four-story building in which will be kept a library documenting the fate of European Jewry and a museum of martyrdom, is set in a stone covered courtyard. Across its austere, windowless face, are inscriptions in Hebrew and French calling the passerby to: “Show the Jewish martyr your respect and piety for all martyrs. Follow the sorrowful path with them and it will lead you to the highest summits of justice and truth.”

In the middle of the courtyard stands an enormous cylinder in the form of an urn. On its surface are inscribed the names of the Nazi extermination camps and the Warsaw Ghetto. In the basement is a crypt in which rests a symbolic tomb, wrought of black marble in the shape of a Star of David.

Among those present at the ceremony were representatives of all European Jewish communities which had suffered from the Nazi terror, except Hungarian Jewry whose delegation had not arrived by the time the ceremony got under way. In the museum will be a model of the Warsaw Ghetto, sent by the Polish capital, a 17th century fresco depicting Rachel blessing her son, sent by the Yugoslav Government, and a number of items from Prague’s Jewish Museum.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund