Fort Mont-Valérien (Fort du mont Valérien or simply Mont-Valérien) is a fortress in Suresnes a western Paris suburb, built in 1841 as part of the city's ring of modern fortifications. It overlooks the Bois de Boulogne.

History

The fortress defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, and remained the strongest fortress protecting the city, withstanding artillery bombardments that lasted several months. The surrender of the fortress was one of the main clauses of the armistice signed by the Government of National Defense with Otto von Bismarck on 17 January 1871, allowing the Germans to occupy the strongest part of Paris' defences in exchange for shipments of food into the starving city.

Colonel Henry of army intelligence, a key player in the Dreyfus Affair, was confined at the prison of Mont-Valérien in 1898. The day after being confined, 31 August 1898, he cut his throat with a razor that had been left in his possession, taking to the grave his secret and that of a great part of the affaire Dreyfus. (See Resolution of the Dreyfus Affair.)

During the Second World War, the fortress was used, from 1940 to 1944, as a prison and place of executions by the Nazi occupiers of Paris. The Germans brought prisoners here in trucks from other locations. The prisoners were temporarily confined in a disused chapel, and later taken to be shot in a clearing a hundred metres away. The bodies were then buried in various cemeteries in the Paris area.

People executed by the Nazis at Mont-Valérien
  • Henri Honoré d'Estienne d'Orves, 29 August 1941
  • Gabriel Péri, 15 December 1941
  • Seven members of the French Resistance Groupe du musée de l'Homme were executed by firing squad on 23 February 1942: Boris Vildé, Anatole Lewitsky, Pierre Walter, Leon-Maurice Nordmann, Georges Ithier, Jules Andrieu and René Sénéchal
  • Missak Manouchian, Joseph Boczov, Léon Goldberg, Thomas Elek and nineteen other members of the Affiche Rouge group, 21 February 1944
  • Joseph Epstein, 11 April 1944
Fort Mont-Valérien as a Memorial

The site now serves as a national memorial. On 18 June 1945, Charles de Gaulle consecrated the site in a public ceremony. There is an American military cemetery on the site, the resting place of 1541 American soldiers, who gave their lives in France during the First World War.

Today, the area in front of the "Mémorial de la France Combattante", a reminder of the French Resistance against the German occupation forces, has been named Square Abbé Franz Stock. During the German occupation, Stock took care of condemned prisoners here, and he mentioned 863 executions at Mont-Valérien in his diary.

Sources
  • Order of the Liberation

Coordinates: 48°52′23″N 2°12′47″E / 48.87306°N 2.21306°E / 48.87306; 2.21306