In Falaise, a museum dedicated to both the life and survival of the civilans during WWII.
About the Memorial

The territory

The project of The Civilians in wartime Memorial was initiated by the Community of municipalities from the Falaise County, in partnership with many other local communities. It relies on the expertise of the Caen Mémorial museum.

The wish here is to highlight one of the major components of the history of this territory: the daily life of civilian populations during the Second World War in a town that was the arena of conflict and fightings and was finally destroyed at more than 80%.

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Partnership between local authorities and the Caen Mémorial museum

The Civilians in wartime Memorial, initiated and backed by local authorities, led by Pays de Falaise Communauté de Communes (local council community), has the support of a special partner - the Caen Mémorial museum

THE CAEN MÉMORIAL MUSEUM – A HIGH-PROFILE PARTNER

The Civilians in wartime Memorial, initiated and backed by local authorities, led by Pays de Falaise Communauté de Communes (local council community), has the support of a special partner - the Caen Mémorial museum
The Caen Mémorial museum, which opened on 6 June 1988, specialises in 20th century history, from the First World War to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, with reconciliation as its central theme. It has 3 floors and 14,000 sq. metres of exhibition space, 5,600 sq. metres of which is for the museum’s permanent exhibition, and employs over a hundred permanent members of staff.
The Caen Mémorial museum has supported the Civilians in wartime Memorial project from its very outset, providing local authorities with its museum management expertise. 
Using the scientific and educational excellence for which it is renowned, the Caen Mémorial museum led the design of the new memorial’s museography.

This means that scenographic propositions will be both precise and exacting,” said Stéphane Grimaldi, managing director of the Caen Mémorial museum and a member of the Civilians in wartime Memorial’s Scientific Council. Every object, every document - whether in paper, sound or visual format - and every text will be accessible to the public (in terms of effective understanding and display) and, at the same time, will provide precise information. So there will be no question of including an object that does not meet a specific historical objective. In the same way, and so as to lend each object or document the full extent of its narrative force, the memorial’s scenography will strive to demonstrate the unique or exemplary nature of the choices made.”

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The history of the territory

The birthplace of William the Conqueror has every right to retell this period in history – it was one of Normandy’s most badly hit towns during the bombardments of summer 1944. In the smoking rubble of Falaise, 80% of which was destroyed by the bombs...

The birthplace of William the Conqueror has every right to retell this period in history – it was one of Normandy’s most badly hit towns during the bombardments of summer 1944. In the smoking rubble of Falaise, 80% of which was destroyed by the bombs, lay hundreds of dead and wounded civilians.

Its name is also connected to the decisive military operation of August 1944 when German troops were encircled in the famous Falaise Pocket. The operation marked the end of the Battle of Normandy, which began with the Allied landings and lasted for a hundred days and which saw two million soldiers fight for victory while a million civilians endeavoured to survive.

“We had felt for a long time that our local area was not fully engaged in its own history,” explained Eric Macé, mayor of Falaise, and Jean-Marie Gasnier, president of Pays de Falaise CDC (Communauté de Communes - local council community), at the start of the project.

Local councillors wanted the ambitious project to bear its weight financially and to avoid   leaning too heavily on local funding. As sponsor of the project, the CDC and its partner, Falaise town council, both put up a million euros, covering almost half of the initial budget of 4.1 million euros, while the government, Calvados département and Basse-Normandie regional council provided equal shares (700,000 euros each) to make up the remainder of the budget.

Pays de Falaise now can proudly promote the two key components of its history and of the history of Normandy: the life and reign of William the Conqueror and the daily life of its civilians during the Second World War.

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