Stéphane JONOT, director of the Memorial, with abbot LAUNAY,
who negotiated the capitulation of 800 Germans in the Dives river
valley on August 21st, 1944.
Dear friends, dear visitors,
When seeing today the peaceful and bucolic valley of the Dives river, it is difficult, nearly impossible, to imagine the extent of the conflicts which took place on this exact spot some 60 years ago.
After Eisenhower’s visit on August 23rd 1944, he was particularly appalled by what he saw. He expressed “It was possible for hundreds of yards to walk over decomposing human remains, in a heavy silence, through a luxuriant countryside where all life had brutally ceased…”
It was not his first confrontation on a battlefield, yet it was one of the worst…
In this valley, the once powerful Seventh German Army became encircled by the Poles, Canadians, Americans, British, and French. Tens of thousands of men clashed in this small area from August 18th to August 22nd. Villages and hamlets full of civilians were the stake of violent engagements.
The battle of Normandy ended after 77 days of bitter fights, resulting in the release of our territory a few days later, and leading the Allies to the doors of the Third Reich.
The Memorial of Montormel was built with the initiative of the Orne territorial governement (Conseil Général de l’Orne). It fulfils its mission of memory since 1994. It explains the battle and pays tribute to its actors – both civil and military. Our ambition is to give you the elements with which to understand this decisive battle, which is often ignored or badly known to the public.
We await you many!