Picpus cemetery and the rothschild hospital
Using the archives to support national standards for students of french
by Margot M. Steinhart, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY
 

Goals and Examples 

Goal 1 : Communication

Communication in French

Goal 2 : Cultures

Gain knowledge and understanding of the cultures of the Francophone world

Goal 3: Connections

Use French to connect with other disciplines and expand knowledge

Connections of Picpus Cemetery and of the Rotschild Hospital to other disciplines:

  1. Poetry
    André Chénier and Jean-Antoine Roucher (two poets guillotined the same day and buried at Picpus

  2. Poetry and music
    Opera Andrea Chénier, composed by Umberto Giordano (« Come un bel di di maggio »)

  3. Novel /film /opera 
    Le Dialogue des Carmélites  (play (1949): Georges Bernanos/ opera (1957): Francis Poulenc) – story of 16 nuns who were guillotined for their refusal to abandon the Church and were buried in the common grave at Picpus

  4. Literature and biography/autobiography 
    • Dora Bruder (1997), written by Patrick Modiano (Gallimard Paris, 1999; ISBN: 2070408485) 
    • Intrigued by an announcement placed in Paris Soir in 1941 by the parents of Dora Bruder, the author searched for 10 years to reconstitute the life of the 15-year-old Jewess 1941. The places that Dora Bruder frequented included a catholic boarding school adjacent to the Picpus Cemetery and the Rothschild hospital.   http://www.ac-strasbourg.fr/microsites/hist_geo01/dora/tab2.htm

    • Paulette Szlifka Sarcey tells about her life as a résistante in an interview for the digital archive project.  She was tortured and taken to the Rothschild Hospital before being sent to Drancy and Auschwitz. One of the 20 interviews of Shoah survivors who passed through Rothschild.

  5. Novel/ musical/ filmLe roman/ le théâtre musical /le film : Les Misérables 
    • Victor Hugo (Les Misérables, 1845-1862: novel) 
      Hugo places Cosette at Picpus in the novel.
    • Claude-Michel Schönberg et Alain Boublil  (Les Misérables, 1980: musical) 
    • Claude-Michel Schönberg et Alain Boublil (La Révolution Française,1973. Musical) 
    • Sir Cameron Mackintosh et Herbert Kretzmer (Les Misérables, version in English, 1985: musical) 
    • Claude Lelouch (Les Mísérables, 1995: film) 
      Hugo’s story of Jean Valjean is intertwined with the occupation of France in this film. 

  6. History 
    1. People who were buried at Picpus 
      • Lafayette and his wife Adrienne 
      • The poets André Chénier and Antoine-Jean-Roucher 
      • The Viscount Alexandre de Beauharnais (husband of  Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, futur Empress Joséphine) 
      • Representatives of les Trois Etats: politicians, journalists, poets, workers, clergy and nuns , nobles 

    2. People who came to Picpus 
      • Le Comte René de Chambrun (diplomat, international married to Josée Laval, daughter of Pierre Laval) wrote on Lafayette and Pierre Laval; lived in the château of Lafayette, La Grange) interviewed during the filming of Picpus: Walled Garden of Memory. 
      • Le Duc de Noailles (descendant of Lafayette’s wife family), interviewed on how Picpus became a cemetery 
      • General John Pershing on July 4, 1917. 
        On this occasion:  "Lafayette, nous voilà!" was uttered by Lt. Col. Charles Stanton 

    3. People who were interned at Picpus, a mental/nursing home (maison de santé) 
      • Marquis de Sade 
      • Choderlos de Laclos (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 1782) 

      Sample Task:  Determine the work and social status (according to the 3 états) of those who are buried at Picpus, based on the “Liste des victimes enterrées à Picpus.” (plaque at Picpus and in book “Les Victimes de Picpus: 1794-1994,” also in the Picpus Digital Archive) Sample Task: Draft an obituary for one of the famous people buried at Picpus.

Goal 4:  Comparisons

Develop insight through French into the nature of language and culture

Goal 5: Communities

Use French to participate in communities at home and around the world