1957-1960: the inauguration ceremonies

The body of the unknown deportee

On 5 May 1957 the inhumation of the body of an unknown deportee during an official ceremony marked the start of the rapatriation of the remains of French citizens who died in camps throughout Europe and of work on the monument, which was completed in 1958. Sculptor Lucien Fenaux, winner of the Grand Prix de Rome, worked on it until July 1959. The 40-meter-tall Memorial, which is visible from the valley, depicts a flame and the emaciated silhouette of a deportee.

The vigil

On 22 July 1960, during the vigil preceding the official ceremony, the body of the unknown deportee, symbol of all the victims of the deportation, was placed inside the vault at the foot of the Memorial. The Executive Board also decided to move 14 urns containing soil or anonymous ashes from concentration camps in Germany there. The national necropolis includes 1,118 graves of French men and women who died in deportation at KL-Natzweiler or other camps.

The plaque dedicated to foreign deportees

The same evening, Minister Rémond Triboulet inaugurated a marker in homage to foreign deportees bearing the inscription “ To the memory of all the foreign deportees who died here for freedom ”.

The plaque dedicated to the Alliance network

Then a plaque was unveiled in homage to the 107 members of the Alliance network, who were slaughtered at the camp on the night of 1 September 1944. The plaque is now next to the crematory block at the base of the camp.

The inauguration of the National Deportation Memorial

On 23 July 1960 General de Gaulle, who was then the president of France, unveiled the memorial “to the martyrs and heroes of the Deportation” flanked by two ministers who were former deportees: Edmond Michelet, a Dachau survivor, and Pierre Sudreau, a Buchenwald survivor.