Who is Commemorated?
Victims of Oranienburg and Sachsenhausen concentration camps
The monument is in section 97 of the cemetery in an area of other collective monuments.
A hammered copper sculpture rises from a circular limestone base. Set flat in the top of the base is a rectangular polished granite plaque with an incised dedicatory inscription in French.
A large spiky tree and a ring of spiky roots rise from the stone base. An emaciated man hangs in the tree, seeming to grow from it lie a giant fruit, or he is held in the tree. The spiky roots at the base of the monument purportedly represent the barbed wire fence of the camps, but in the tree the deportee is reborn. The treatment of the figure is less brutal than in the nearby Buchwald Memorial and the theme is of composition is more symbolic and allegorical.
The inscription around the base in bronze letters reads:
ORANIENBURG - SACHSENHAUSEN - ET SES KOMMANDOS
The inscription at the foot of the statue reads:
A circular mark by the signature could be the seal of the manufacturing workshop.
The inscription on a plaque on the base reads:
Camp de Concentration
Translation: To / 100,000 dead / from / Nazi concentration camp
L'Amicale des anciens deportes d'Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen
Summary and Remarks
The dedication of the 97th division (section) of Père Lachaise Cemetery to the memory of deportees to concentration camps began in June 1946. This monument was erected in memory of deportees and victims of the two concentration camps Oranienburg (founded 1933) and Sachsenhausen (founded 1936) where inmates worked for German industry. It is estimated that Sachsenhausen Concentration camp housed approximately 200,000 inmates during its years of operation (1936-1945). The number of those who died of starvation, malnutrition, overwork, disease, medical experimentation, or were murdered outright, is unknown; certainly, there were tens of thousands of victims, and many more who died on the forced march after the camp closed. The Oranienburg Camp was much smaller, open for a much shorter time (1933-1934), and was mostly for German political prisoners. The number of 100,000 dead given on the monument for both camps is non-specific, and the actual number will never be known.
“1936-1945 Sachsenhausen concentration camp,” Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen website , https://www.sachsenhausen-sbg.de/en/history/1936-1945-sachsenhausen-concentration-camp/ (accessed April 12, 2022)
Monuments à la mémoire des déporté(e)s victimes des camps de concentration et d'extermination nazis, (Paris: Musée de la Résistance nationale, 2005)
Nord, Philip. After the Deportation: Memory Battles in Postwar France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020)