Supporting education programs at memorial sites

Education is one of our areas of focus, alongside history and acts of remembrance. Our funding for instructional programs at memorial sites is guided by two priorities. The first is to teach members of the public—and children in particular—about acts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during and since the Second World War. The second is to prevent future tragedies by ensuring that today’s young people understand what being a good citizen entails and know how to spot the early signs of hatred and intolerance in others.

The Shoah Memorial

Our association with the Shoah Memorial stretches back almost two decades.

It all started in 2002, when SNCF’s Board of Directors agreed to support the renovation of some of the Memorial’s buildings—including a new Wall of Names bearing the full names and dates of birth of the tens of thousands of Jews deported from France by the Nazis.

In 2010, we became the “principal partner company of the Shoah Memorial” under a four-year agreement that focused primarily on SNCF’s support for the Memorial’s education activities. In return, the Memorial agreed to share its expertise as part of research into the history of SNCF during the Second World War.

The Shoah Memorial was founded as a way to remember the history of the Holocaust and to understand the circumstances that allowed it to happen. Through its long-established education and awareness programs for schools, the Memorial teaches children and educators about the dangers of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism.

Each year, around 100 workshops on the Holocaust and the Roma (Gypsy) genocide are conducted for primary and secondary school pupils throughout France. Children can take part in guided tours of the Shoah Memorial and visit other museums and sites, such as the Izieu Memorial and the National Archives. Depending on the scope of the school projects, students can also meet Holocaust survivors and others with first-hand experience, access historical documents and view interviews of survivors.

The Memorial also runs screenings, which are followed by presentations and discussions with historians, filmmakers and people who lived through the events of the time.

Another way we help is by providing support for “commemorative journeys” that combine visits to memorial sites near Paris and trips to Auschwitz. And because educators are on the front lines when it comes to learning about history and our duty to never forget, we also sponsor teacher training programs organized by the Memorial—both on site and at training colleges—and fund study trips to sites in France and beyond.

In May 2017, we signed a new partnership agreement with the Shoah Memorial, which included plans to convert the disused passenger station in Pithiviers near Orléans into a memorial. It opened to the public in 2021.

Learn more:

Camp des Milles

The Camp des Milles memorial site stands in the grounds of a former internment camp in south-eastern France. It was designed not only as a museum of history and remembrance, but also as way to teach young people about the values of citizenship, community and mutual respect. The site runs education programs that help children understand the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of extremism, equipping them to guard against intolerance in their own lives. At SNCF, we’ve offered free rail transport to classes visiting Camp des Milles since 2012.

Camp des Milles opened in September 1939 at a tile factory between Aix-en-Provence and Marseilles. The camp operated until 1942, serving as a way station for more than 10,000 prisoners from 38 countries, most of whom had fled Nazi oppression and persecution. In August and September 1942, the Vichy government organized the deportation of over 2,000 Jewish men, women and children to transit camps at Drancy and Rivesaltes, and then to Auschwitz.

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The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), in Washington D.C., is both a memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust and an institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history. Since opening in 1993, it has become an internationally recognized institution with two million visitors walking through its doors each year.

In 2012, SNCF presented scanned copies of its Second World War archives to the museum. In 2015, we pledged to support USHMM’s education programs for schoolchildren and the general public as part of a five-year partnership agreement. And our name was added to the museum’s Donor Wall in 2017.

Learn more:
USHMM website:
History of the USHMM:
Convoy 77: the last convoy to Auschwitz
The Beit Project: a pop-up urban school
Remembering the past through theater

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