Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver
This square in Paris with its very long name is dedicated to the Jewish who were rounded up during World War II and taken to the indoor cycle stadium prior to being deported, and as well as a monument, from its elevated position by the River Seine, it also offers a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower.
A bit of history
During World War II the people of France suffered terribly whilst under German occupation, and Paris was no exception, yet one of the most horrific events took place on 16th July 1942, which was when over 13,000 Jews were rounded up within the capital city alone.
The Nazis, along with the French police who were under orders from the German Gestapo rounded up men, women and over 4,000 children, and took them to an indoor winter cycling stadium, which was known as the Velodrome d’Hiver.
And having been kept in diabolical unsanitary conditions for many days before being deported to concentration camps, only approximately 100 or so of these people survived to see the end of the Second World War, and not a single child.
With the atrocities that took place at the Velodrome d’Hiver, this cycling stadium became recognised as one of the most infamous places in Paris until it was destroyed in 1958, but the memories still remained instilled in the hearts of many.
But it was only in the 1980s that the Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver was first laid out, and was named through a by-law in 1986 by the Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac, in memory of these atrocities that had taken place very close by at the stadium in Paris.
It was then a few years later, in 1994 to be exact, that a monument was inaugurated in the square dedicated to the innocent Jewish victims that lost their lives in this roundup, and now there is a memorial service and ceremony held on the 16th July each year within the Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver.
About Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver
Now Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver is often referred to as just the Square Velodrome d’Hiv, or in English the Winter Stadium Square, yet it is also known as the square of the Jewish Martyrs as well.
The square is actually more like a long promenade that is situated above street level running alongside the River Seine, and with a straight path with lamp posts and a set of stairs to get down to the street, it is well kept and has a monument located right by these steps.
The monument itself is a stark reminder of the atrocities that took place in Paris during World War II, and depicts men, women, expectant mothers, the elderly and children, who were all subjected to the Jewish roundup that took place.
As we mentioned earlier, this monument was put in place in the Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver and inaugurated in the July of 1994, and the bronze monument was designed by the architect Mario Azagury and sculpted by Walter Spitzer, yet it also has an unusual stone base, which was designed to be reminiscent of the cycling stadium.
You will find that there is also an inscription on the base of this monument in Paris that reads, In Tribute to the Victims of Racist Persecutions and Crimes Against Humanity, and at the very bottom it reads, Never Forget, which is a gesture to remember all those that suffered.
Visiting Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver
Located within the 15th Arrondissment of Paris, you will find the Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver in an elevated position close to the Bir-Hakeim bridge, running alongside the River Seine.
This small promenade and square in Paris is situated between the Quai Branly and the Quai de Grenelle at the intersection of the Boulevard de Grenelle, and offers fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower, which is only approximately 15 minutes walk away, however, from what we could tell, it is not accessible to the disabled.
Getting to the Square de la Place des Martyrs Juifs du Veledrome d’Hiver is very easy, either via the River Seine or along the street, and the nearest Metro stop is the Bir-Hakeim station via line 6 on the left bank of the river, South side, close to the Ile aux Cygnes island.