The ‘Roots’ exhibition, which was shown in northern France during the celebrations of the centenary of the Battle of La Lys in the First World War, will be in the Municipal Library of Fafe, from 9 to 24 August.
The exhibition is composed of several illustrative panels and is based on the testimonies of descendants of soldiers of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps who at the end of the war stayed in France.
The exhibition was inaugurated on April 9 by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and the Prime Minister, António Costa, in Richebourg, near the Portuguese military cemetery of Richebourg L’Avoué in northern France, where they are buried 1,831 Portuguese soldiers and was classified this year as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The show is curated by Aurore Rouffelaers, the great-grandson of a Portuguese soldier who fought in the trenches and who was the coordinator of the commemorations of the Battle of La Lys in the Hauts-de-France region.
The love story, a few kilometers from the front line 100 years ago, between his Portuguese great-grandfather and the French great-grandmother, is at the origin of the interest of this lusodescendente by the participation of Portugal in the war, as well as the reports that always heard of the grandmother , Felicia Glória d’Assunção Pailleux, the woman who in the last 40 years has been the flagship of Portugal in the annual commemorations of the Battle of La Lys.
“The idea of ??this exhibition is to look for the descendants of the Portuguese soldiers who chose to marry French women and stay in France. It is a difficult job because 100 years have passed and, with weddings in between, Portuguese nicknames have been lost. Asuncion and I am Rouffelaers, “explained Aurore Rouffelaers during the preparation of the show.
According to Aurore, “the important thing is to collect testimonies from the children of war,” among whom is the 90-year-old grandmother, who is the third of 15 children of João Manuel da Costa Asunción, the Portuguese from Ponte da Barca who fell in love by Mélanie, 15 kilometers from the battle front.
When the war ended, Joao Assunção still went to the boat to return to Portugal, but he regretted it and knocked on the door of Mélanie’s mother, where he slept in the corridor until they were married. Some years later, the Portuguese acquired French nationality and opened a bicycle shop.
The exhibition was loaned to the city of Fafe by the Béthune-Bruay Tourism Center, in an initiative promoted by the Memories of Migration Association, the Museum of Migration and Communities and the Fafe City Council.
The inauguration is scheduled for 18:30 on August 9th, as part of the party of the emigrant that takes place that night in the city.