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January 27, 2006
I Know We're Forgetting Something ...

Quick quiz: when one builds a war memorial, what one subject should not be overlooked? If you answered "the war", then you're at least two steps ahead of the French designers of a D-Day memorial in Normandy. The London Times reports today that the Memorial Museum in Caen manages to mention multiculturalism, feminism, and Father Christmas, but it neglects to focus on that big armada of ships that parked itself off of the shores of Normandy in June 1944:

THE museum set up by the French authorities to commemorate the D-Day landings is struggling under a mountain of debt amid a sharp decline in the number of visitors.

The Memorial Museum in Caen, Normandy, has been accused of mismanagement for turning its back on the Second World War to concentrate on subjects from feminism to Father Christmas. In recent months the museum has focused efforts on transforming itself into a “place of reflection on the contemporary world”. ...

In 2002 the museum, which is run by Caen town council, opened a €13.72 million (£9.4 million) extension that includes sections on “the principal disorders in the world today” and the need for “eco-responsibility”. Stéphane Grimaldi, who was appointed director in October, said that it had lost €400,000 when the number of visitors fell to 400,000 from 560,000 in 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day.He announced cost-saving measures, including cuts to the guided tours of the D-Day landing beaches. His rescue plan includes exhibitions on Living without Petrol and on Father Christmas.

And people think that Americans have a lousy sense of history! This seems almost willfull, as if the people of Caen want to forget the sacrifices of the American, British, and Canadian forces that stormed the beaches of Normandy to liberate places like Caen from Nazi rule. That would not surprise the people who have long noted the French intelligentsia's disdain for the nations that freed them. The French people and the tourists who come to Caen have delivered their own verdict on the usurpation of the memorial to the elimination of Fortress Europe, but the Caen town council apparently hasn't listened. They continue to eliminate remembrances of D-Day in favor of politically-correct displays of can't-we-all-just-get-along foolishness.

They should be grateful, at least, that the Allies didn't hold to that philosophy in the 1940s, or they'd still be singing the Horst Wessel Song in Caen's cafes today. Perhaps that thought should occupy at least a corner of the D-Day memorial in their benighted little town.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 27, 2006 6:38 AM

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