Drancy

 

Six miles to the east of Paris in a suburb of Drancy, is the Cite de la Muette. Sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten camp’, it was built between 1932 – 1936 as part of a modernist social housing and was designed by radical and respected architects Marcel Lods and Eugene Beaudouin. Cite de la Muette was considered to be one of the most interesting and technically advanced developments of its kind to be erected during the 20th Century.In 1941, before it was completed Drancy was established as a transit camp for French Jews. Around 67,000 Jews were arrested by their own French police force and transported to Auschwitz. They never returned.

Architecturally this 1930’s art deco building has nothing in common with the makeshift camps around Europe that we all associate with the Holocaust, but inside it bares the same scars of death; spaces filled with the echoes of suffering cries.

In 1947, just few years after the war, the building was returned to its original purpose as housing for low – income families. With France unwilling to acknowledge their massive involvement in the persecution of Jews, it would seem that it was simple to wipe the history clean. On 16th July 1995, after 50 years of collective amnesia and silence, Jacques Chirac made a public apology for the atrocities inflicted on the Jewish community.

Today the history of the Drancy camp still remains largely unknown with the majority of French society turning a blind eye to the past, as well as the present situation in the Cite de la Muette. La Cite today houses immigrant families that are mostly unemployed or on a very low income like most citizens living in the suburbs of Paris, they are regarded as second class citizens in the eyes of Parisians, prejudice is still far from extinguished at the Cite de la Muette.