A memorial to the six million murdered Jews of Europe was inaugurated in Paris in 1956. It is now known as the Mémorial de la Shoah, but then it was called the Tombeau du Martyr juif inconnu. This memorial was one of the first of its kind, and its construction was completed in the mid-1950s, when, according to received wisdom, a general silence about the fate of European Jewry in the Second World War was said to prevail. How and why was the memorial constructed; how is it to be interpreted; and why was the memorial built in France?
Philip Nord is the Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1981. He is the author of several books on the history of modern France, including: The Republican Moment: Struggles for Democracy in Nineteenth-Century France (1995), Impressionists and Politics: Art and Democracy in the Nineteenth Century (2000); France’s New Deal: From the Thirties to the Postwar Era (2010); and France 1940: Defending the Republic (2015).