The site : a place steeped by history
The decision to house the memorial in the old café Métais was by no means random. By the evening of August 25, 1944, this café was one of the few buildings left standing. Several people nevertheless lost their lives in it, five of whom were killed in the cellar where they had sought refuge.
The building was initially repurposed as a school in the months following the tragedy, before being turned back into a café over the subsequent decades. Bought by the municipality in the late 1990s, this site was swiftly chosen as the venue for the permanent exhibition devoted to the tragedy.
The Maison du Souvenir: 8 dates at glance
March 9, 2006: first school group welcomed
The Maison du Souvenir was delighted to welcome a class from the Anatole-France secondary school in Tours. More than 32,000 pupils and students, from primary right up to university level, would follow in the footsteps of these first ever pupils to visit the Maison du Souvenir. Every year, nearly 3,400 pupils now pass through the memorial’s doors
August 25, 2008: inauguration of the Maison du Souvenir by the President of the Republic
After being forgotten about for more than sixty years, the commemoration on August 25, 2008 was attended by the French President himself, who officially inaugurated the Maison du Souvenir on this occasion
October 6, 2008: “”Qualité Tourisme” and “Tourisme et Handicap” tourism certifications
Ever since it first opened, the Maison du Souvenir has been committed to continually improving the quality of reception for all visitors. In 2008, it was awarded “Tourisme et Handicap” certification for the four types of disability. It was the first visitor venue (museums, châteaux, etc.) in the département to gain this certification, which was renewed in 2013 and 2018. In 2011, it was also awarded the “Qualité Tourisme” certification as a sign of its commitment to a professional approach, a certification which was renewed in 2014 and 2018. In 2015, the Maison du Souvenir hosted a seminar on remembrance sites, addressing the quality initiative in this type of place, and signed the Remembrance Site “Qualité Tourisme” charter.
November 3, 2008: official visit from Prince Albert II of Monaco
In 2008, as a tribute to the Hales, the American couple who became patrons of Maillé, and to mark the fiftieth anniversary of their death, the Maison du Souvenir produced an exhibition charting their story. The inauguration of this exhibition was attended by Prince Albert II of Monaco, whose parents were friends of the couple.
November 5, 2015: its 50,000th visitor was welcomed
On November 5, 2015, before a crowd of some one hundred people, the Maison du Souvenir celebrated welcoming its 50,000th visitor. This event showcased the success of the memorial which, in addition to having largely exceeded expectations, has conducted a range of ambitious projects (designing a Franco-German exhibition on World War I, participation in publications and more).
2017: extension of the Maison du Souvenir
Work got underway to extend the Maison du Souvenir in 2017 and was completed in 2018. Over this year of works, the memorial continued to welcome its visitors despite the conditions that were less than ideal. The extension, and particularly the addition of an educational room, now means that schools can be welcomed for longer sessions, by putting on educational workshops for them. Thanks to the auditorium, a regular program of conferences or screenings can now be organized too.
August 25, 2018: visit from the French Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer
On August 25, 2018, while on an official visit to Tours at the exact moment the commemorations were being held of the Maillé massacre, just half an hour south, the French Minister of National Education promised to visit Maillé the following year. In 2018, he kept his promise by presiding over the anniversary ceremony. Beyond paying tribute to the victims, his visit was a sign of recognition of the Maison du Souvenir’s accomplishments in terms of the thousands of schoolchildren it welcomes.
November 24, 2018: first visit to Maillé of a representative of the Federal Republic of Germany
Building on a partnership spanning several years with Germany, particularly involving the annual organization of a Franco-German exchange for struggling young people, Maillé and the municipal association Pour le Souvenir de Maillé (For the Memory of Maillé) established contact with Gegen Vergessen eV, a leading German remembrance association. This organized for a delegation from Maillé to be welcomed in Berlin by Mr Roth, who was then the Federal Republic of Germany’s Minister of State for Europe. A few months later, the minister came to Maillé: becoming the first ever representative of a German government to visit the Maison du Souvenir.
The Maison du Souvenir houses 200 sq.m. of permanent exhibition space, delving into the little-known history of the Maillé massacre. This exhibition presents more than 250 documents which go back over the background of the massacre, how it unfolded and what happened afterwards – both in criminal justice and remembrance terms.
Visitors coming to the Maison du Souvenir are encouraged to start by watching the film of testimonies, Maillé, le massacre oublié (Maillé, the forgotten massacre), in the auditorium, as this provides a worthwhile introduction to their visit.
There is also an educational room on-site where groups can devote time to working on a specific aspect of the massacre and seminars or meetings can also be organized.
Finally, there are plans for an outdoor area to be laid out in the future to enable each visitor to extend their visit by finding out more about other memorials to massacres, with which the Maison du Souvenir has forged close ties.
The site’s activity is guided by four objectives:
- Remembrance: by keeping the memory of the victims alive to ensure they are never forgotten.
- Education: by shedding light on the complex period that is World War II for visitors – children and young people in particular.
- Citizenship: by encouraging visitors to consider the fate of civilian populations in wartime today and the need for vigilance amid the spread of extreme ideas.
- Science: by supporting research in all fields to do with massacres of civilian populations and their consequences.
More than a museum, the Maison du Souvenir is an exhibition venue (interpretation center) which presents little in the way of collections. It also seeks to be somewhere people can come to talk about this tragedy.
The Maison du Souvenir, a culture venue
The last room at the Maison du Souvenir is set aside for temporary exhibitions on themes touching on the subjects raised by the site.
The Maison du Souvenir also organizes events (conferences, screenings) at regular intervals. Have a look at our News section to find out more!