Carine Lévêque


Current living place:
Montpellier, France

Carine Lévêque

Coordinator Memory and Communication, National office for war veterans and war victims (ONAC)

  • My organization:
    ONAC is a French public organization depending on the ministry of Defense, created after the First World War in order to help and protect the surviving soldiers of the war, socially and medically. ONAC has a local representation in every French department. In the last 15 years, memory of modern conflicts has become one of its main activities, working with schools, historians, organizing lectures, exhibitions, cultural events or providing pedagogic materials.

  • Examples of concrete activities I have organized/am organizing in the field of “dealing with the past”:

    Lectures, exhibitions, plays mainly about the first and Second World War. Pedagogical travels to Germany, Italy or the United Kingdom. I work with memorials (such as the Centre de la mémoire in Oradour) but also museums and partners (such as the University of Montpellier, national education and war veterans associations). I have also organized intergenerational meetings between pupils and witnesses.

  • Concrete challenges I am facing in my “dealing with the past”-related work:

    We are dealing with very sensitive subjects when we work on history. That is probably the biggest challenge. In France, war veterans and memory associations are still very active […]. For example, when we work on deportation to the concentration camps during the Second World War, we talk about racial or political deportation which means different memories. There can be competing memories for those affected and it is sometimes difficult to deal with it. Our duty is to see them all as victims of Nazism and/or of the French policy of the time and not to see them as a hierarchical system where each group can see itself as the most victimised or least recognised. There are still some taboos in the French society regarding this period. […]. And as the war in Algeria is concerned, taboos are still really strong. Each association has its own vision of the conflict and it can be difficult to reach a consensus. Dealing with such a competition can sometimes be a big challenge.

  • My personal link to/interest for the topic of “dealing with difficult pasts”:
    I have taken part in seminaries dealing with difficult pasts in Germany and the Western Balkans […] and it was really interesting for me to work on those subjects. What I have seen and learnt in the Balkans was very different from what I have experienced in France and in Germany […] mainly because the very perception of war is […] different.