Mémorial National des Justes - "La Clairière des Justes"
The Mémorial National des Justes was given to the town of Thonon-les-Bains by the Consistoire Central de France and the French Association of Homage to the Righteous Among the Nations. The monument pays homage to those who saved human lives during the genocide.
The Ripaille estate’s 130 hectares were chosen for the monument as the estate is an important historical centre for the Haute-Savoie and a symbol of resistance, spirituality and solidarity.
On the banks of Lake Geneva near Thonon-les-Bains, the old 50 hectare oak forest, Château de Ripaille and its buildings, the 17 hectare arboretum, fields and meadows protected by an outer wall with overhanging greenery all bear witness to the location’s glorious history and the people that put their heart and soul into it.
On the edge of the ancient oak field and the 19th century arboretum lies the Clairière des Justes (glade of the righteous), where 70 trees from the five continents have been planted representing the 70 nations mentioned in the Bible as a message of hope, tolerance and the importance of populations sharing their cultures and future generations following suit. The symbolic Mémorial National des Justes stands in the centre of the glade.
The Mémorial National des Justes is the work of the sculptor Nicholas Moscovitz.
The copper and brass monument symbolises many things:
- Three silhouettes representing the Righteous
- Characters symbolising the generations that have been able to continue thanks to the actions of the Righteous
- The heart filled with emotion, love, courage and generosity that characterises the Righteous
- The sphere surrounded by a ring symbolising the world and people from all over the world coming together.
On Sunday November 2nd 1997, over two thousand people from all over France and abroad came to Thonon-les-Bains to share in the emotion of the memorial and the Clairière des Justes and see them inaugurated under the patronage of the French president, Jacques Chirac, with the Minister for Culture and Communication, Catherine Trautmann, presidents of the Consistoire de France and the French Association of Homage to the Righteous Among the Nations and the Great Rabbi of France to name but a few. After the speeches had been made, young Jews and the Righteous came around the monument to plant the last of the 70 trees together in the Clairière des Justes.