This made a deep impact upon me because of the world we are currently living in. It reminded me of how important it is to oppose hateful rhetoric and denounce oppressive practices that seek to dehumanize any segment of our society. Of course, the walls with the names of those killed in the extermination camps are always powerful and moving.
It was a bit tough to read about the French government's role in the perpetuation of the "Jewish solution." The Vichy government was equally as evil as the Nazi regime and cooperated perfectly with the oppression of Jews in France. Sarah's Key is a powerful novel that first exposed me to what is knows as the Vel' d'Hiver round up, a horrible season of rounding up Jews around the city of Paris. I am currently reading An Invisible Bridge which is also fiction but set during the time of WWII. The story features a young architectural student from Budapest who goes to Paris to study. Both of these novels are worthwhile reads for some insight into France. Of course, France suffered terribly at the hands of the Nazis, but it's important to note that there were also many Nazi sympathizer within the nation. I was impressed with the way in which France has been trying to deal with this ugly history. This plaque in particular was moving for me. The quote "After years of amnesia, France finally acknowledged the responsibility of the Vichy government in 1995..." That statement, after years of amnesia, indicating a collective attempt to reduce the negative history, or wipe it from the history of France because it is so painful stands as a stark reminder that we must embrace our full history, especially the ugly and shameful parts, so that those deeply injured by the events will feel seen and heard and so that we see how it unfolded so that we never allow such a thing to unfold again.