Heritage tourism and memorial sites

Visiting a memorial site is a particular experience.

These locations were at first places of pilgrimage for the victims’ families who came to remember a missing relative (for example at the Cité de la Muette in Drancy). 

Yet, commemorating the dead is not only a personal need, but also a collective one. This is why associations of former deportees organize events at key dates to remember the lost ones but also feel united in a common past.

These memorials have been built to considere what happened. Visiting these places has a pedagogical aspect, especially for the young students. We come to comprehend history: the point of vue of the memorials supervisors offers more to medidate than just a page in a scholar book or Wikipedia. Indeed, the authenticity of the locations takes an important part in the recalling.

It is the goal of these memorials to make visitors understand as objectively as possible the history through the location itself.

Still, we could also ask ourselves if visiting places affected by human disasters could be seen as morbid curiosity. In the entire world, dark tourism (or Thanatourism) is developing fast (in Auschwitz or Hiroshima for example). At the beginning of the 20th century, tourism linked to natural catastrophe (Hiroshima) and terrorism (Ground Zero) started to develop as well.

Yet, heritage tourism is not something new. As soon as the WWI ended, pilgrims came together to Verdun, and also after WWII...

Today, the notion of heritage tourism is now institutionalized but it presents a contradiction between the idea of tourism (leisure) and the notion of remembrance (memory).

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