© Centre Interpretation Marne 14 18 Musee Suippes Avion © Marne 14 18

Lest we forget

Learn more about major conflicts

Châlons-en-Champagne and the Marne in general were greatly affected by the conflicts of the First and Second World Wars. There are many places that recall and honour the history of the men and women who lived through this period.

The Great War

in Châlons-en-Champagne

During the four years of war, the population of Châlons suffered numerous bombardments and the town was heavily impacted by the conflict.

To find out more about the life of the people of Châlons during these four years, check out our heritage brochure: Parcours 14-18, Châlons during the Great War.

The Plaque of the Unknown American Soldier: In 1920, the President of the French Republic, Raymond Poincaré, presented the Mayor of Châlons, Joseph Servas, with a Croix de Guerre as a tribute to the suffering experienced and to commemorate the First World War.

The following year, the Americans decided to honour an unidentified American soldier who died on French soil.

The plaque of the unknown American soldier is on display in the entrance hall to the Hôtel de Ville.

The Great War

in the Marne

The Marn 14-18 Interpretation Centre in Suippes (24 km)

This interactive interpretation centre dedicated to the Great War offers an unparalleled journey through this painful period in our history. Thanks to a rich collection of photos and unpublished footage presented in 7 screened areas, you can step into the everyday lives of our forefathers.

 

La Main de Massiges (44 km)

This plot of land is a remnant of a battlefield from the First World War. It still bears traces of the conflict, including two large underground mineshafts. The visit allows you to understand the living conditions of the soldiers in the trenches and shelters.

Other places to discover

  • The Ossuary Monument of Navarin at Souain Perthes-les-Hurlus and its small museum
  • The American Monument at Blanc-Mont and the Franco-American Memorial Hall at Sommepy Tahure
  • The Russian Chapel at Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand
  • The Monument at Mondement
  • The Fort de la Pompelle at Puisieulx
  • The National Memorial of the Battles of the Marne at Dormans

The Second World War

in Châlons-en-Champagne

The Gestapo Museum, Cours d’Ormesson

When Châlons was taken in 1940 and until its liberation in August 1944, the Nazis requisitioned the Chamber of Agriculture to use as their offices.

“They used the basements, which they transformed into the most basic cells. In the crawl space, they even threw prisoners into solitary confinement, where they were kept permanently in the dark and with water up to their knees. The place also includes two torture chambers, one of which is visible.”

This former Gestapo house became a museum in 1994 under the impetus of two resistance fighters, Jacques Songy and Jean Chabaud.

It opens its doors on occasion, notably during the European Heritage Days or on request, for a guided tour with the Tourist Office.

The Second World War

in the Marne

Le Terrain de la Folie

The site of the Butte des fusillés is located within the perimeter of a military field known as “Terrain de La Folie”, which can be accessed from Place de Verdun in Châlons-en-Champagne via Rue du Camp d’Attila and Chemin de Melette.

38 patriots were shot there between August 1943 and August 1944. They were resistance fighters condemned to death or resistance fighters initially sentenced to prison, who were then shot as hostages.

Le Musée de la Reddition à Reims

The unconditional surrender of the German armies was signed on May 7th of 1945 at 2.41am in a room in this museum, which has remained unchanged.

There are many documents, models and exhibits relating to the end of the Second World War in Europe.

The War Memorial

The war memorial is located in front of Saint-Etienne Cathedral.

Situated on Place Saint-Etienne, the monument “La dernière relève” was erected in 1926 and designed by Gaston Broquet. It consists of a massive stone base which supports a group of 5 bronze soldiers where a lieutenant can be seen leading his trench artillerymen.

On the base of the monument, bronze plaques list the names of the people of Châlons who died for France.