Relais de la Mémoire
Relais de la Mémoire (“Relais”) was formed in 2001 by a group of notable individuals who had experienced directly the horrors of the Second World War, both as prisoners of concentration camps (“Déportés”) and as members of the French resistance network (“Résistants”). Relais de la Mémoire was established out of an awareness that first hand accounts of Déportés and Résistants were endangered as those who had themselves witnessed and suffered the atrocities of this barbaric period in history aged and died. In establishing Relais it was hoped that first-hand eye-witness accounts could be passed on to young people, of an age similar to that of the Déportés and Résistants at the time of their experiences, so that their memories as witnesses (“Témoins”) might be preserved into perpetuity and used to create a better future for all, as today’s young people pass this learnt wisdom on to their contemporaries, families and future generations.
Relais de la Mémoire now encompasses 12 schools from across Europe and achieves its aims by holding bi-annual conferences at which selected pupils from each member school hear, express their feelings about, and interact creatively with the first-hand accounts of Témoins, including those drawn from more modern conflict. Relais de la Mémoire provides opportunities to bring young people from diverse backgrounds together to form deep friendships, appreciate their similarities and value their differences.
Shortly before his death, Abel Farnoux, who instigated the establishment of Relais, proposed a strategic plan for the organisation which included a vision that Relais attendees reflect on what they had learned and consider the impact of these lessons in their daily lives. He hoped that attendees would then act as agents for Relais within their own schools, share their newly acquired wisdom with their fellow students, families and wider communities and, in doing so, awaken the conscience of others.
Since 2001 some 2,000 students have participated in Relais conferences but many more have been positively impacted indirectly. Those students who attended the earliest events are now reaching their early 30’s and some will have children of their own. Relais attendees have reported meaningful and lasting change in their lives as a result of their experiences with Témoins and other conference participants; many now have valuable stories of their own to tell.
VISION & MISSION
TO PRESERVE MEMORIES: Relais de la Mémoire brings together those who have lived through conflict, resistance and/or displacement, and those too young to have experienced that moment in time but who wish to accurately preserve the memories of those who did and ensure that they are not forgotten.
TO EDUCATE PEOPLE ABOUT THESE MEMORIES: in a spirit of cultural and political openness, and respecting freedom of speech, Relais facilitates discussion amongst young people and between young people and such witnesses.
TO CONSERVE AND DISSEMINATE THESE MEMORIES: young people who involve themselves in Relais become its spokespersons, echoing within their schools, families, communities and beyond what they have heard and learned.
TO RAISE VIGILANCE AND AWARENESS: to transmit the values of the resistance to young people who are now the same age as the as the founders were when they took up arms against oppression and persecution.
Given the growing tensions across Europe and throughout the world, Relais’ work in preserving memories of the past through young people so as to build a better future for all is increasingly important and urgent. Secure Base supports Relais by working with it to ensure that the best possible tools are made available to allow it to achieve its objectives. Specifically, Secure Base is currently working with Relais to create an active Internet presence.
This vital tool will allow Relais the visibility it needs to:
- achieve its goal of reaching and impacting an ever wider audience;
- provide a focal point for ccultivating an active network of participants; and,
- prompt the collation and preservation of its priceless archive of materials so that this can be made more widely available into perpetuity and used to encourage positive action and change.