Nanteuil-sur-Marne and Saâcy-sur-Marne are two villages 50 miles east of Paris (France). They are located on opposite sides of the Marne, on the railway line from Paris to Strasbourg and Germany.
On August 15, 1944, the last train (I.264) of deportees left Paris for Germany with 2400 detainees, most of them members of the resistance movement. On the morning of the 16th, the train came to a halt in the countryside because the railway bridge spanning the Marne has been destroyed by the RAF. Under guard by the SS, the prisoners were made to walk several miles to reach the station of Nanteuil-Saâcy, where a train took the men away to Buchenwald and the women to Ravensbrück. Over 900 never returned.
A plaque on the facade of the Nanteuil-Saâcy station recalls the story of that convoy, and every year on August 16, a ceremony pays tribute to the deportees.
A Committee of the memorial was created in 2008, including local patriotic organizations, and neighboring county and local governments. To perpetuate our duty to remember, the Committee will install a boxcar close by the Nanteuil-Saacy station.
The initial estimate for the project was about 108,500 euros, to cover the acquisition, refurbishment and transportation of the boxcar, as well as securing and developing the site. An ongoing campaign of information and research grants to local authorities and government, and donations from the public and patriotic organizations have funded the largest share of the project.
The boxcar has been found. It was used for deportation during the war and has been generously offered to the Committee by the SNCF (the French railway company). Historically accurate restoration was financed by the Committee, and performed by the SNCF. The car has been transferred to the site on October 12th, 2011.
The ceremony on 2011, August 16, was the last without this boxcar, whose installation has mobilized the energies of the last survivors of that era.
The memorial will be, especially for younger generations, the only site of memory of the Resistance and Deportation in the Seine & Marne department. It will allow for the organization of visits and commemorations, both educational and patriotic, and will become an important feature of cultural and historical tourism in the department. It will also become part of the network of the Resistance and Deportation museums.
The remaining work to be completed (but not yet totally financed) includes installation of a glass wall bearing the first verses of Jean Ferrat's Night and Fog, creation of an access gateway and reception area for the public, planting of a Ravensbruck Resurrection rose garden,.... Once completed, the site will also pay tribute to the memory of those who came to our aid in our darkest hours.
Research has identified (name, birthdate, …) some 200 foreign prisoners, including 83 Americans, 57 British, 26 Canadians, 9 Australians, ... mostly airmen whose planes were shot down over France. After their arrival in the Buchenwald concentration camp, these foreign deportees were transferred to a regular POW camp.
In order to pay proper homage to these allied prisoners, the Committee is consulting the authorities in their countries as well as their patriotic organizations in order to learn what will be the most suitable tribute. We have found 4 canadian survivors.
Opening and dedication of the memorial is currently planned for saturday 23rd, June 2012, to which we will be pleased to invite foreign representatives.
Jean-Pierre CAMELOT april 2012
Secretary of the Committee email@example.com