From the bugist house to the contemporary memorial

The House

Commonly known as the “Maison d’Izieu”, the building is located in the hamlet of Lélinaz in Izieu.

In 1835, this large stately home already had a long terrace and a huge garden that boasted an orchard and a pond for fishing. Next to it, there was a farm with barns, a bread oven and a silkfarm (where silkworms were farmed from a young age until they produce silk).

Before 1939, the owners of “Villa Anne-Marie” rented their house in summer to summer camps through the bishopric of Belley. The house was very basic and had no running water or bathroom. The spring water from the pond was used for washing and daily tasks. In winter, heating was provided by wood stoves.

From 1943-1944, the house welcomed the Hérault Refugee Children’s Home

After the 1950s, this house was occupied by private individuals, who sold it to the “Memorial Museum of Izieu” association in 1990.

Today, the house is a place of remembrance dedicated to the memory of the 44 children and 7 adults who were deported on 6 April 1944.

 

Rather than reconstructing the house exactly, the museography instead evokes the atmosphere of the home’s era and the void left behind by the deported children.

In this way, the house portrays the children’s daily life. Discreet signs indicate how each room was used; the children’s letters and drawings are displayed in the refectory; a portrait of each child who was arrested on 6 April 1944, and then deported, features in the dormitories.

Average visiting time: 1 hour

 

 

The Barn & the Sabine and Miron Zlatin building

© Studio Erick Saillet

The barn, which used to be an agricultural building, was used to store agricultural equipment when the children’s home was there. The barn was extended and a new building was developed in 2015.

Initiated in 2012, the decision was made to extend by 1,100 square metres because of the continuous increase in attendance, particularly from schools, and the increase in the number of requests for educational activities, as well as by the association’s desire to renovate and improve its permanent exhibition.
After consultation and a competition, the project management was entrusted to Mr Dominique Lyon of the Du Besset architectural firm in Lyon.

 

 

© Studio Erick Saillet

The Sabine and Miron Zlatin building was inaugurated on 6 April 2015 by the President of the Republic, François Hollande. It includes several rooms dedicated to educational activities, a documentation centre and an exhibition room.

The permanent exhibition is divided into three themes and is based on numerous archival documents and documentary resources that are integrated into digital devices.

 

Theme 1: Why were there Jewish children in Izieu?

This first theme presents the historical context of Europe at the time of the Second World War and retraces the journey of the children of Izieu’s families.

The individual stories of the children of the children’s home of Izieu are compared with the history of anti-Semitic persecutions perpetrated by the French state and the genocide of European Jews in Europe.

 

Theme 2: Crime against humanity

On the ground floor of the barn, the trial of war criminals, international military tribunals and crimes against humanity are dealt with in depth. The main French collaborators are discussed, as well as the Nuremberg and Klaus Barbie trials.

Other genocides and crimes against humanity of the 20th century are also discussed.

Another room with 4 screens allows you to consult excerpts from  the trial of K. Barbie and a touch screen table provides access to lots of data on crimes against humanity, which can be consulted chronologically or by country.

 

Theme 3: Remembrance and its creation

At the end of the exhibition, on the first floor of the barn, the exhibition makes you think about the creation of remembrance, based on the history of remembering the Izieu home, with a European perspective on this creation and a comparison between different countries’ perspectives.

Average visiting time: 2hr 30mins

 

The Magnanery

There were many magnaneries, buildings where silkworms are raised, in the Rhône valley from the south of Lyon to Ain. This activity took place in the farms’ attics and brought in money, both in summer and winter. Some of them still exist today. The one in Izieu has not been used since the 1930s.

Nowadays, the magnanery is not open to visitors. It is mainly used for Maison d’Izieu staff offices, while it also has a picnic room and the Wiltzer room, in honour of the deputy commissioner of Belley, Pierre-Marcel Wiltzer.

Plaques and objects of remembrance Plaques on the façade of the house

Commemorative plaque with the names of the children and adults who were deported, Maison d’Izieu © Y.Perrin

In 1946, during the commemoration of 7 April, a first plaque was put on the right hand side of the house. It is a reminder of the history of the roundup and how the children and their carers were deported. It lists the name and age of each of the deported children and adults:

« Le 6 avril 1944, jour du Jeudi Saint, 44 enfants de la Maison d’Izieu étaient arrêtés par les Allemands, avec leurs maîtres, puis déportés le 15 avril 1944. Quarante-et-un enfants et cinq de leurs maîtres furent exterminés dans les chambres à gaz d’Auschwitz. Le directeur de la colonie et deux garçons furent fusillés dans la forteresse de Revel. »

“On 6 April 1944, on Maundy Thursday, 44 children from the Maison d’Izieu were arrested by the Germans, with their educators, and then deported on 15 April 1944. Forty-one children and five of their educators were killed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The director of the home and two boys were shot in Reval castle.”

Fritz Loebman’s name was added to the plaque at the inauguration of the Izieu Memorial Museum in 1994, which had been omitted in 1946.

The names of the deported children and adults are read in front of this plaque for the commemorations in April.

 

Commemorative plaque of 1990 © Maison d’Izieu

In 1990, after the house was purchased by the association, Sabine Zlatin decided to put up a second plaque to the left of the main entrance.
The text engraved on it talks about the history of the site and life in the home before the roundup:

« Ici, sous le nom de « colonie d’enfants réfugiés de l’Hérault », Sabine Zlatin, infirmière de la Croix-Rouge, assistante sociale de l’Hérault, et Miron Zlatin, ingénieur agronome, ont fondé le 10 avril 1943, la « Maison d’Izieu » pour y recueillir des enfants juifs. »

“Here, under the name of “the Hérault Refugee Children’s Home”, Sabine Zlatin, a Red Cross nurse and social worker from Hérault, and Miron Zlatin, an agricultural engineer, founded the “Maison d’Izieu” on 10 April 1943 to take in Jewish children.”

Inauguration plaque, 1994 © Maison d’Izieu

In 1994, a third plaque was put up between the two doors of the house. It commemorates the inauguration of the memorial by François Mitterrand, President of the Republic, on Sunday 24 April 1994.

National stele

National stele © Maison d’Izieu

Built in 1994, the national stele (created by Christian de Portzampac) symbolises the French Republic’s homage to the “victims of racist and anti-Semitic persecutions and crimes against humanity committed with the complicity of the French State”, recognised by the presidential decree of 3 February 1993.

Located at the side of the local road that runs alongside the memorial site, it bears the inscription:

« Ici la Gestapo arrêta et déporta 44 enfants et 7 adultes parce que nés juifs, 50 furent exterminés à Auschwitz et Reval. La République en hommage aux victimes des persécutions racistes et antisémites et des crimes contre l’humanité commis avec la complicité du gouvernement de Vichy dit « gouvernement de l’État français » (1940-1944). N’oublions jamais. »

“Here the Gestapo arrested and deported 44 children and 7 adults because they were born Jewish. 50 of them were exterminated at Auschwitz and Revel. In homage to the victims of racist and anti-Semitic persecutions and crimes against humanity, committed with the complicity of the Vichy government known as the “French State Government” (1940-1944). Lest we forget.”

It is in July, in front of this stele, that the ceremony takes place to commemorate the National Remembrance Day for the Victims of Racist and Anti-Semitic Persecution at the hands of the French State and to pay tribute to the “Justes de France” [those who tried to protect those being persecuted by the Vichy regime].

 

The Brégnier-Cordon monument

Monument of Brégnier Cordon, 75th commemoration © Maison d’Izieu

The monument in Brégnier-Cordon, which is a village located just beneath the town of Izieu, was created, like the first plaque on the house, during the commemoration of 7 April 1946. It was built on Sabine Zlatin’s initiative, thanks to fundraising from local residents and funding from the municipalities.

This monument can be found at the crossroads of La Bruyère, at the point with the road leading up to the village of Izieu. Its base is decorated with a bas-relief, which was designed by Sabine Zlatin and which depicts a dagger over the top of a swastika, hanging menacingly over two children’s faces which are in front of a star of David. It bears several inscriptions.

On the right of the monument:

« Passant, recueille-toi et n’oublie pas le martyre de ces innocents – Que les lieux où ils ont vécu te soient sacrés pour toujours »

“While you are passing by, take a moment and do not forget the martyrdom of these innocent people – May the places where they lived be sacred forever”

 

Under the bas-relief, excerpts from John Donne’s 17th contemplation chosen by Sabine Zlatin:

« Tout homme est un morceau de continent, une part du tout (…), la mort de tout homme me diminue, parce que je fais partie du genre humain. »

“Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main (…), any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

On the left of the monument, the original text said:

« À la mémoire des 43 enfants de la colonie d’Izieu, de leur directeur et de leurs cinq maîtres arrêtés par les Allemands le 6 avril 1944 et exterminés dans les camps ou fusillés dans les prisons allemandes. »

“In memory of the 43 children of the children’s home of Izieu, their director and five teachers who were arrested by the Germans on 6 April 1944 and killed in concentration camps or shot in German prisons.”

After Klaus Barbie’s trial, this text was replaced by a new inscription:

« À la mémoire des 44 enfants de la Maison d’Izieu, de leur directeur et de leurs 5 éducateurs, arrêtés par le criminel nazi Klaus Barbie, le 6 avril 1944, déportés et exterminés dans les camps ou fusillés, parce qu’ils étaient juifs. Klaus Barbie responsable de la déportation a été condamné à perpétuité par la Cour d’Assises de Lyon le 3.7.1987. »

“In memory of the 44 children of the Maison d’Izieu, their director and their 5 carers, who were arrested by Nazi criminal, Klaus Barbie, on 6 April 1944 and who were deported and killed in concentration camps or shot for being Jewish. Klaus Barbie, who was responsible for the deportation, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Criminal Court of Lyon on 3.7.1987.”

Since 1946, the ceremonies commemorating the 6 April 1944 roundup have begun with a moment’s reflection at the bottom of this monument. The commune of Brégnier-Cordon covers it in flowers for every republican ceremony (8 May, 14 July, 11 November) but also for All Saints’ Day, meaning that the memory of those who disappeared is associated with that of those who died from the commune.

 

Benches

The whistle © Yannick Perrin

The stonemason apprentices of the Montalieu-Vercieu stone-work training centre (Isère) made and provided two benches in homage to the children arrested at the Izieu children’s home.

These benches allow visitors to take in their surroundings and to really soak up the memories of the site. Found near the barn and in the orchard near the house, a whistle is at the top of the first bench, which is a tribute to the whistle the teacher, Gabrielle Perrier, kept throughout her time as a teacher, while the arms of the second bench are in the shape of a number 44 in homage to the 44 children. These two benches were officially inaugurated during the commemoration of 6 April 2012.