I don’t have any pictures of the inside of the Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation (Resistance and Deportation History Centre). I’m writing this a few weeks after I was there and I can’t remember whether that’s because there was a sign saying I wasn’t allowed to take pictures or if I simply chose not to. I think it’s the former, but, whatever the reason, you’ll find only a picture of the exterior on this page. Sorry about that. (For copyright reasons, lousy photographer though I may be, I use only pictures I took, not stuff scraped off the soles of the Internet.)
The Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation is located in what, during World War II, was the headquarters of the Gestapo in Lyon. This seems like a very fitting location considering the subject matter.
During the war, Lyon played a proud role in the rise of the resistance against the Nazis, but it also played a shameful part in the deportation and extermination of the Jews of that area. The Centre uses text, artifacts, photographs and videos to tell both sides of that story.
The text in the exhibits is almost exclusively in French (see below for exceptions to that). When I asked at the front desk, I was told that they normally offer an audio guide device that includes English commentary, but it was being updated and wouldn’t be available again for a while.
That would have been a problem for me because I speak almost no French. However, fortunately, I was told that I could borrow an English translation of the exhibit text from the attendant at the cloak room.
This came in the form of photocopied pages assembled into a small booklet. It contained translations of all of the text in all of the permanent exhibits (but not the temporary ones). The translations were arranged in the order that you were expected to walk through the Centre. Because that intended path was not clear to me from the signage, I had a little difficulty following along at first, but I soon caught on. (Hint, when you get upstairs, which is where the exhibits are, turn right.)
Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation Exhibits
Once I identified the correct starting point and path, I saw pictures and text about (in order of the exhibits):
- The lead-up to the war.
- The development of the Résistance.
- Groups and individuals involved in the Résistance,
- The repression of the Résistance by the Germans
- And the treatment of the Jews of Lyon and their deportation to Auschwitz for extermination.
The Centre offered some video screens displaying short, relevant videos. The screens were of a size intended for individual viewing. And there was generally only one or two earphones per screen. I mentioned above that there were exceptions to the French-only nature of the exhibits. This was it. The videos offered an option of a soundtrack in either French or English.