Photos: The Camp at Drancy, France

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This monument was created by Shelomo Selinger to commemorate the French Jews imprisoned in the camp at Drancy, France.

History of the camp: The camp at Drancy was a transit camp not far outside of Paris. In 1939 the camp was used to hold refugees from the fascist regime in Spain. In 1940 these refugees were given over to the Nazis. In 1941 the French police, under the authority of the Nazi regime, conducted raids throughout France that imprisoned French Jews. Many victims of these raids were taken to Drancy. Approximately 3000 prisoners died in French camps from lack of medical care, unsanitary conditions, and starvation. On the nights of the 16th and 17th of July, 1942 the Great Raid of the "Vel d'Hiv" occurred. The Velodrome d'Hiver was a stadium in Paris built for bike racing. During this police operation, which was organized by the Petain government and the Nazi occupation administration, over 12,800 men, women and children (3031 men, 5802 women, and 4051 children) were taken to the velodrome and kept there for 5 days without food or medical care and then transferred to Drancy. The children were immediately separated from their parents upon arrival, and the parents were then sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Oftentimes, the children remained for weeks in Drancy without care or sufficient food. Many died, particularly babies and the very young, because of lack of care and the brutality of the guards. Eventually they were all transported to Auschwitz and gassed. Over 6,000 Jewish children from France were imprisoned and transported to Nazi extermination camps to their deaths between July 17th and September 30, 1942.

Scultpure: The two blocks to the side of the central sculpture symbolize the doors of death. Drancy was considered to be the anteroom of death. The central sculpture is composed of 10 people, representing the number of people necessary for collective prayer (Minyan). On the front of the central sculpture a man and a woman embody suffering and dignity. In the center, the head of a man wearing the ritual cube (Tefilin) symbolizes prayer. Below, two inverted heads symbolize death. The Hebrew letters "LAMED" and "VAV" are formed by the hair, arms and beard of the two people at the top of the sculpture. These two letters have the value of 36, which is the number of righteous men in the world according to Jewish tradition.

A closer view of the central sculpture.
A closer view of the sculpture and one of the side blocks.
A closer view of the sculpture and one of the side blocks.
The back of the monument at Drancy. From the back, the two blocks symbolizing the doors of death are closing. The steps go toward the railroad tracks and the boxcar used to take prisoners to Auschwitz.
A view of one of the wings of the camp at Drancy. The buildings are used as housing to this day.
Approaching the boxcar from the memorial. This boxcar was used to transport French Jews to Nazi extermination camps. They were kept at Drancy and then taken to the train station at Bobigny where they were then transported to Auschwitz.
A wide view of the boxcar.
A closer view of the boxcar.
A picture of the doors to the boxcar.
This sign on the boxcar door says that the car holds 8 horses.
This sign on the boxcar door says that the car holds 40 men. In this wagon, 100 people were piled in for their transport to Auschwitz.
This sign on the boxcar door shows a Jewish star.
The interior of the boxcar is used as a museum about the camp. It includes a display of photographs, documents, and texts depicting the horrible living conditions and events that took place at Drancy.
The monument marks an escape tunnel dug by 70 prisoners working in three teams. Beginning in September 1943, the prisoners worked day and night on the tunnel. It had reached a length of 36 meters before it was discovered by the Nazis in November 1943. The prisoners were 3 meters from freedom.
A plaque that describes the escape tunnel.
This plaque is in homage to the victims of racist persecution, antisemitism and crimes against humanity and is a pledge that the French Republic will never forget.
This plaque is a pledge by French youth to never forget the internment of thousands of Jews, gypsies, and foreigners by the Vichy government.

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