Museum of the Resistance and Deportation

One of the buildings in the Besançon Citadel is now used for the Museum of the Resistance and Deportation, dealing with the Second World War, when the Nazis and their collaborators ruled France. The museum provides “an in-depth and emotional portrayal of this dark period of history.”

They say that the choice of the Citadel for the location of this museum “is highly symbolic as 100 resistance fighters were executed by firing squads here during the Occupation.”

Entrance to the museum

The word Deportation in the name of the museum refers to the Jews, who were deported to concentration camps in other countries, where most of them were murdered by the Nazis. One of the few who survived was Denise Lorach (1916-2001), who founded this museum in 1971.

In the museum

Using photographs, texts and original documents, the museum reviews the “origins and development of Nazism, the war and the Vichy regime, the concentration camps, the French Resistance movement” and finally the Liberation of France at the end of the Second World War.


Bridge over the dry moat at the entrance to the citadel

Despite the bitterness caused by the German occupation of Besançon during the Second World War, the city established a partnership (town twinning) in 1959 with the German city of Freiburg in Breisgau. This is appropriate because Vauban had also built a fortress overlooking Freiburg while that city was occupied by the French army starting in 1677. (But his Freiburg fortress no longer exists, having been razed in the 1740s.)

For 47 years after the Second World War the French army maintained a large base in Freiburg, called the Vauban Barracks. When the last French troops left the site in 1993 it was bought by the city of Freiburg for the development of the Sustainable Model District Vauban, a new district using renewable energy resources and planned for the needs of people, not automobiles.

View of Besançon from the citadel

Location, aerial view and photos of the citadel on monumentum.fr.

My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2019.

See more posts on Besançon, France, and Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

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