Facing the Military School, the Wall for Peace is here to remind us that it is necessary to celebrate peace in our cities.
The Wall for Peace is located on the Champ de Mars, facing the Military School, whose buildings host the War School. It was designed by Clara Halter, an artist committed to promoting peace and supported in her action by her husband Marek Halter, a French Jewish writer of Polish descent. Made by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, it was erected on the Champ de Mars in 2000 to celebrate the millenium.
As art historian Philippe Dagen reminds, speaking about the Wall for Peace, monuments and symbols of war “are so numerous that they are barely noticed anymore. They are everywhere in our landscapes, in the cities and along the roads, next to fields and sometimes even on beaches. […] Conversely, peace signs are missing. Nobody cares about what is really worth commemorating”.
The Wall is made of a metal frame and large glass walls, on which the word “Peace” is written in 49 languages. Cracks have been made in the Wall to be filled with messages from visitors, based on the Jerusalem Wailing Wall model. These messages are then collected and displayed on screens that are integrated to the monument. Following the same idea, Clara Halter designed a Peace Tower in Saint Petersburg in 2003 and Peace Doors in Hiroshima in 2005.
Originally set up for four months to celebrate the year 2000, this monument finally became permanent, although it has not been spared from controversies and degradation. It was vandalised several times, broken or soiled by racist or anti-Semitic messages. In 2011, Rachida Dati, the mayor of Paris 7th district and former Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, demanded the monument to be taken down and moved to another place. She launched a petition “to save the protected perspective of the Champ de Mars”.
The Wall has become a meeting place for demonstrations and gatherings of Human Rights and Peace activists. For instance, every year since 2012, between August 6th and August 9th, a fast is organised by antinuclear activists in the memory of the victims of the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in order to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.