Battle brews in Normandy over strategies to celebrate D-Day landings

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Battle brews in Normandy over plans to commemorate D-Day landings

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LONDON — On the beaches where 160,000 Allied soldiers arrived at the coasts of Normandy on June 6, 1944, the intrusion referred to as D-Day, a brand-new fight is developing.

A group of French veterans and their descendants is waring a prepared $58 million “immersive” history experience. Set in an 800-seat theater that would move in between sets, the program, entitled “Homage to Heroes,” would include live stars and archival video.

The organizers behind the job price quote that it might bring in as lots of as 600,000 travelers a year and prepare for it to open in time for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in 2024.

“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we make some sort of legacy for our kids first to remember what happened in Normandy during World War Two?’ Today you can find movies, TV shows and books about the war, but there is no show telling the story of these men,” stated Roberto Ciurleo, among 3 co-producers on the job.

Renderings of the theater component of the “immersive” history experience a group of home entertainment manufacturers and directors want to integrate in Normandy.

“Homage to Heroes” will combine the masses of archival product offered from the war and usage “new tools to reach out to the younger generation in a language they understand,” Ciurleo stated.

But a French veteran who battled in Normandy state the theater experience would be rude to those who battled and passed away there.

“The war is not a show. It’s history, and you must respect people who gave their life for freedom,” stated Leon Gautier, 98, a previous French marine with the Kieffer task forces who battled with the British on D-Day.

“They want money for history, and we don’t agree to that,” he stated.

Gautier consulted with the organizers of the job last month to hear their strategies and stated they did little to lighten his concerns.

He included his name to a letter released in the paper Le Monde on Sept. 9 by a group of worried veterans and their households. The group has actually because corresponded to regional political leaders, consisting of the president of the Normandy area, Hervé Morin, who has actually suggested that he favors the job.

With little to reveal for their efforts at the minute, the group has actually now included a minimum of one American veterans’ association, and it is attempting to attract assistance for its project to name a few associations connected to D-Day veterans.

The National fourth Infantry Division Association sent out a letter of opposition to the job on Thursday, stating it is “appalling” that “anyone would consider turning the sacred grounds of Normandy into a profit focused amusement park.”

Bob Backcock, the association’s historian and previous president, stated veterans feared that Normandy “will go from being a place of historic reverence to a place like Disney.”

Wooden crosses with poppies in the sand in remembrance of those eliminated in 1944 in Langrune-sur-Mer, France.Joel Saget / AFP through Getty Images file

On D-Day, Allied forces arrived at 5 beaches in Normandy to advance into France — consisting of 23,000 males from the fourth Infantry Division who arrived at Utah Beach. Nearly 9,000 soldiers from the department were eliminated in the combating in June and July.

Organizers of the job state developing a theme park is far from their objective.

“There was no intention and there is still no intention to have a lack of respect, to do entertainment, to do a fun park about the landing,” stated theater director Serge Denoncourt, who is composing the program.

“We want to open a door for kids and teens to say, ‘I didn’t know all that, and I want to go to Omaha Beach and Colleville,'” he stated.

Denoncourt, who formerly directed a Cirque du Soleil display in Las Vegas, along with other productions in the U.S., Canada and Europe, stated the outrage has actually stunned him considered that he has yet to have actually even started composing.

He approximates it will take another 2 years to finish the job, which is backed by personal cash. He stated he is talking with specialists to guarantee historic precision and has actually provided to consult with the opposition group to completely describe the strategies in a quote to win it over.

“The idea is really good, so I don’t want to put it in the trash. We can go anywhere in the world,” Denoncourt stated.

The organizers have yet to select a place, and Ciurleo stated 3 towns in the Normandy area, consisting of Bayeux and Carentan, have actually revealed interest in hosting the memorial experience.

An picture of the prepared theater set of the history experience proposed to be integrated in Normandy.

Despite the intense opposition, regional historians are open to learning more about the scheduled history experience.

“When someone says we want to suggest a project in Normandy to explain what happened with new technology, the question isn’t to say I disagree. It is to hear their opinions, what do they want to do, what is their idea,” stated Stéphane Grimaldi, the director of 3 museums and memorials in Normandy: the Caen Memorial Museum, Arromanches 360 movie theater experience, a circular movie theater that informs the story of D-Day, and the Falaise Memorial.

Grimaldi consulted with the organizers of the program and has actually accepted act as an advisor. However, he would likewise like the area to evaluate the requirement for a brand-new memorial so it can much better comprehend the effect it would have on visitor numbers to Normandy’s existing museums and memorials.

“Maybe they will succeed to help young people from the ages of zero to 40 understand what happened and why it happened and what are the consequences,” he stated.

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