Yesterday we visited the Museum of the Resistance on our last day in Grenoble. It was the museum I was looking forward to the most so I was excited the time to go had finally come.
When we first walked in, I was already interested. There were World War Two related books covering the walls of the gift shop, all in French. I really wanted to see what the French perspective of World War Two would be in these summarized children’s books. The answer was nearly no mention of Japan(except for Pearl Harbor), and a broader lens on nations’ actions and battles, not just that of the Americans.
When we first went into the exhibit, there were familiar names adorning the walls such as Mussolini and Hitler along with early war information; the rise of fascism in Europe, the invasion of Poland, and the preparation for the invasion of France. The next series of rooms analyzed the initial fighting in France before and up to the capturing of Paris that largely ended France’s fight with Germany. It displayed battles between French and German troops and the French efforts to just stay alive.
The next rooms and floors would show France’s continued fight with the Nazis who had overtaken and occupied their country. A room showing a 3D table map of Grenoble and its surrounding cities had lights where every skirmish, ambush, and sabotage occurred. When all 3 options were chosen to see, nearly the entire map illuminated. The room illustrated the scale of resistance activity in France, and especially in and around Grenoble.
Next, they would show the support given to the resistance by the British and Americans. Hanging from the ceiling of the map room was a British parachute package full of supplies and rations that was dropped for resistance fighters. In a display case sat the standard equipment of a resistance fighter. It had a radio, hatchet, trench shovel, knives, and small arms given to them by the allies such as the sten SMG from the British and an M1 carbine from the Americans. Even further they had a large crate full of allied arms such as grenades, guns and ammo. These included original BARs(browning automatic rifle), Springfield rifles, Bren machine guns, m1 frag grenades, and anti-tank mines. Maybe the coolest and most well maintained things I’ve seen in a WW2 museum.
After this, nearly an entire floor was dedicated to the Holocaust in France, displaying videos of SS soldiers marching and real pictures of emaciated victims of liberated death camps. It was truly sobering and horrific. Original striped uniforms were in a display case along with every patch and which group it corresponded with such as political prisoners, homosexuals, gypsies, and Jews. This was the end of the museum, so we went back down to the gift shop. I got some books to read up on and try to see the French perspective of the war. This was my favorite museum of the trip and a absolute highlight of my time in Grenoble.