THE ALSACE-MOSELLE PORTRAIT GALLERY
TOSSED BACK AND FORTH
BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES
In the entry hall, at the foot of the steps, you will discover an enormous nave 12 metres high that at first glance appears to be a portrait gallery.
Equipped with your audio guide available in three languages, you will pass through seven decades of very tormented history, while listening to dozens of people, either anonymous or identified, and speaking their own language, tell you about these border provinces’ complex history.
At the very centre of this “image cathedral,” you are immersed in a very particular
ambiance: a sort of chaos created by polyphony, while maps, photos and documents recall the context of the time and are thus able to complement your reading.
THE WAR IN ALSACE MOSELLE
Next you enter into a small space. Hitler is barking: On 1st September 1939, the German army enters Poland.
You enter the train station of a reconstructed village. On the wall you see tourism posters as well as evacuation orders. You settle into a train car filled with suitcases and personal effects. A projection appears on the compartment wall, presenting the images of the evacuation of 611,000 Alsatians and people from Moselle towards the Southwest of France. On the other side of the train, a hallway leads to the depths of a Maginot Line fort. White walls along which electrical lines run, tracks on the floor, dormitories, armoured doors…
The orders announced to the enlisted men and the excerpts of speeches and images of combat make the atmosphere of this “Phony War” almost palpable.
THE DE-FRANCISATION OF ALSACE-MOSELLE
In this passage, street signs are hung on the wall, first with French names, and then renamed in German. On the ceiling you see flags that, one after the other, change from the tricolour stripes of the French flag to the Swastika…
The powerful noise of boots makes this worrying atmosphere feel even heavier.
COOPERATION AND FORCED ENLISTMENT
You now arrive before a building characterized by German architecture. Slanting
forward slightly, we cannot avoid its imposing structure and we are plunged into an
oppressive atmosphere that is part administrative, part prison-like.
Here and there, offices bring to life the various phases of the strict ordering of the local
population, including forced enlistment, with the ultimate terror of the Struthof Camp in
Résistances et répression
Le parcours vous mène vers l’univers concentrationnaire.
Barbelés, baraquements, lumières blafardes, miradors…
L’univers gris décrit également par le biais de photos, de documents et d’audiovisuel, la résistance et les passages vers la France.
RESISTANCE OUTSIDE OF ALSACE AND TOTAL WARFARE
You wander into a passageway situated 3.5 metres from the ground. The pine trees of the Vosges forest recall the fact that the border crosses clandestinely on neighbouring heights…Under your feet and all around you, there is no doubt: this is war. The ground, made chaotic by bombing, is littered with all types of debris: bicycles, broken-down or wrecked or burned cars, gas cans…The bombers invade the sky. A house crumbles. Despite this, the images projected onto the wall evoke the German retreat and the D-Day landing. Fortunately, Liberation is close. Your path takes you to a silent soundproof white holding room. No more noise of war; it’s the moment of truth.
From here, you enter into the Eu-Phoria space, and you are at first struck by the life that lights up this place. There are colours, sound, and images as well…
You have become a full participant in this space in movement and progress.
THREE SPACES DEDECATED TO THE EUROPEAN SAGA
The Journey of Europe from 1945 to the Present: All the stages of European construction are evoked and the themed stations allow you to stop at each specific event; for example, a giant-format newspaper which, by using a simple movement of the hand, allows you to read an international press revue that followed the failure of the European Defence Community. A statue of Erasmus brings to mind the Erasmus exchanges and cultural Europe. Also present: moon vehicles that retrace the space race…
The Globe: A cartography space to understand Europe on all its different scales (Schengen, Council of Europe, GDP,….)
There is the Forum where, thanks to a tablet, you can interact with European challenges and become a participant in Europe’s destiny. Then, for the finale, there is a 7 minute long film that is projected on 3 walls and suggests that another Europe is possible.