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Florence Fröhlig

This article examines visits by French people to the former Soviet prison camp in Tambov, Russia, where Alsatians-Mosellans men were imprisoned during World War II. Because the memory of these prisoners of war, conscripted by force into the German army during the war is disappearing together with the witnesses, some survivors organized in the 1990s journeys to the Tambov former prison camp, called “pilgrimages.“ There are currently two kinds of pilgrimages: pilgrimages for survivors of the camp and their close relatives and pilgrimages for grandchildren of former Tambov inmates. This article suggests that the pilgrims, confronting their past, are engaged with a process of identity making, and that pilgrimage provides pilgrims with the opportunity to confront their grief for the dead or their sense of injustice and to let go of the past. The article concludes that with the pilgrimage the value of Tambov as a place of death is re-evaluated.