Institute News

École normale supérieure (ENS) of Lyon Launches "Paroles de libérés" Exhibition

In conjunction with National Day of Remembrance of Deportation held each year in France on the last Sunday in April, ENS Lyon is mounting Paroles de libérés, a major exhibition looking at the plight of liberated survivors returning to France at the end of World War II. The exhibition, part of an ENS project called “Digital Memories: History by Testimonies,” will be on display at Diderot Library and in addition to the gallery exhibition will also feature digital components that will also be accessible as an online virtual exhibit. The gallery exhibit will run from April 27 to June 6, 2015 and information on how to access the online exhibit will be announced shortly.

The liberation of survivors unfolded from January 1945 to May 1945. Paroles de libérés follows 30 Jewish survivors from their first contacts with liberators, their arduous journeys back to France, their repatriation and their eventual return to life. Clips from their testimonies given to USC Shoah Foundation will be viewable on TV monitors placed among the gallery exhibition. Digital tablets will also be available as part of the exhibit to display additional documents such as survivor biographies, photographs, and maps detailing their journeys.

Survivor Nicole Clarence who is featured in the exhibition says, “But if we who are still here, we do not speak of those who have not returned, which didn't have the choice to go or not to go, then we will have lived all this for nothing."

“For this exhibit we wanted the voices of survivors to be the central theme, to hear their individual experience, to learn from their collective memory,” said Emmanuel Debono, historian at ENS and French representative for USC Shoah Foundation. “To do that we needed to incorporate a digital component into our exhibition and in a way that is integral and demonstrates the importance of technology in an academic setting.”

The digital components supporting the gallery exhibit will include:

  • Access to USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive that contains over 53,000 testimonies of survivors of genocide, including the 1,651 testimonies that were taken in France and 1,887 that were conducted in French. ENS Lyons is the only site in France that has complete access to the entire Visual History Archive.
  • Ability to use TETRADE (Territories and Trajectories of Jews Deported from France), an interactive map that charts the location of those deported from France during the Holocaust.
  • A demonstration with TXM (lexicometry) software developed by the ICAR laboratory at ENS, capable of analyzing big data, showing results from transcripts of survivor testimonies.
  • A computer where leaders in the field of digital humanities talk about their work using these technologies.

This exhibition was organized by the Ecole Normale surperieure of Lyon, French Institute of Education and Bibliothèque Diderot Lyon, in partnership with USC Shoah Foundation, the Foundation for Memory of the Shoah, the town of Lyon, the Center for the History of Resistance and Deportation, the equipment of Excellence Matrix and laboratory Interactions, Corpus, Learning, Representation ICAR.