A memorial vigil takes place on Saturday night. The cortege leaves Place du général Delestraint in front of the camp gate, with flag-bearers leading the way into the Memorial. The Struthof executive board’s chairman lights the flame of remembrance. The band plays Taps and a minute of silence follows. A chorus sings the Partisans Song and Chant des Marais as volunteers relay one another to hold the torches. The executive board’s chairman extinguishes the flame.
This intimate ceremony dates back to 1960, when the unknown deportee was buried in the crypt the night before General de Gaulle officially inaugurated the memorial.
The official commemorative ceremony of remembrance takes place on Sunday morning. It begins with veterans’ organisations laying wreaths at the foot of the Memorial. When the minister arrives, he or she greets the diplomatic and consular corps and the organisation presidents before laying a wreath at the foot of the Reclining Figure. After a minute of silence, wreaths are laid before the plaques of Generals Frère and Delestraint. After another minute of silence, the minister walks to the Memorial with senior officials. This part of the ceremony concludes with a speech by the minister, who then enters the camp and bows before the plaque in memory of foreign deportees. The signing of the guest book closes the ceremony.
In September, the International Committee of Natzweiler-Struthof holds a ceremony to commemorate the evacuation of the main camp’s deportees to Dachau.