New Museum in Aube Tells the Story of the Liberation of Southern Champagne

New Museum in Aube Tells the Story of the Liberation of Southern Champagne

Located on the border between Burgundy and Champagne, Mussy-sur-Seine is home to the Aube Resistance Museum which brings to light the local history of Resistance and Liberation during World War Two.

Many people have only a hazy awareness of just a few of the major events that took place during the liberation of France in 1944-45: the D-Day landings; the liberation of Paris; the Battle of the Bulge (also known as the Ardennes Offensive).  

All of these events took place in the northeastern part of France, and don’t take into account how the rest of the country was liberated. But, of course, what it took to get France out from under four years of brutal occupation required much more and was far more complicated than just those few major events (each of which of course was pretty complicated); and it took a lot longer than most people have taken the time to consider. The liberation required a series of many battles that had to be fought all around France; hard-fought battles during which so many lives, both military and civilian, were lost. 

The exhibition offers multimedia displays and real objects from that time © Janet Hulstrand

One way of getting a better grasp on just what was involved in the lengthy and arduous process of liberating France is to focus on just one area. And a relatively new museum in Mussy-sur-Seine does a good job of helping visitors do just that, by telling the story of both the occupation and the liberation of the area of southern Champagne that surrounds Troyes, that is, the Aube département 

Close to the border of Burgundy, the museum of Mussy-sur-Seine opened last August after many years of planning, and several years of construction: the result is a wonderfully well-designed and well-realized museum of local history.  

Extensive documentation is presented visually, with audio accompaniment through audiophones. It would take a long time to absorb all of the information that is presented in this little museum, but it is presented in a way that is engaging and diverse—and also quite sobering and moving.  

Particular attention is given to telling the story of the Maquis Montcalm, a 1200-strong paramilitary unit of the FFI (Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur), which had its base in the villages of Mussy-sur-Seine and Grancey-sur-Ource, and in the forest surrounding them from June-August 1944. 

Telephones used in battle © Janet Hulstrand

While so far there is very little material translated into English, an English translation for the audiophones is a work in progress. But even for those whose French language skills are limited (or even nonexistent) there’s a lot to see here, and it is fairly easy to grasp much of the basic information being conveyed through maps, posters and signs from the period, and other artifacts. 

One particularly engaging interactive display invites viewers to imagine themselves in the position of villagers who had to make daily decisions about what to do when confronted with a variety of dilemmas. (“You overhear something the German soldiers are saying. Do you tell someone? If so, who?”) This “game” takes visitors through some of the possible consequences of choosing this or that action, and thus helps them begin to understand the difficulty of the decisions people frequently had to make, without knowing what sort of danger even small actions could bring about for them or their loved ones. 

A few kilometers from the village, deep in the forest, at a crossroads between Mussy and Grancey, there is a monument to the Maquis Montcalm. There visitors can pay tribute to the maquisards who played a heroic role in the drama and strife that took place throughout l’Aube—and the rest of France—in 1944. 

Today the forest is peaceful and calm.  It is a good place to reflect on the bravery of those who resisted, and the sacrifices they made. It’s also a good place to remember the motto chosen by this wonderful new museum. Hier contre l’oppression, aujourd’hui contre l’oubli.”  

Prisoner clothing in the Resistance Museum © Janet Hulstrand

Practical Information

Musée de la Résistance de l’Aube  

6 rue Boursault 

Mussy-sur-Seine 10250 FRANCE 

(+33)3 53 63 00 20 

 Follow the museum on Instagram and Facebook

Hours : 10-12 :30 and 1 :30-5 :30 every day except Mondays. (The museum is closed after Toussaint and reopens at Easter, except for groups, who can arrange to visit by reservation.) 

Lead photo credit : The museum is housed in the old gendarmerie of Mussy-sur-Seine © Janet Hulstrand

Share to:  Facebook  Twitter   LinkedIn   Email

More in Champagne region, French Resistance, museums, remembrance, Second World War, World War II

Previous Article Restaurant Review: La Rôtisserie d’Argent
Next Article Carnet de Voyage: A Café and a Hat

Related Articles

Janet Hulstrand is a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and teacher who divides her time between France and the U.S. She is the author of "Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You," and "A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France." She writes frequently about France for Bonjour Paris, France Today, and a variety of other publications, including her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She has taught “Paris: A Literary Adventure” for education abroad programs of the City University of New York since 1997, and she teaches online classes for Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C. She is currently working on her next book in Essoyes, a beautiful little village in Champagne.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *