There were internment camps and concentration camps in France before, during and after World War II. Beside the camps created during World War I to intern German, Austrian and Ottoman civilian prisoners, the Third Republic (1871–1940) opened various internment camps for the Spanish refugees fleeing the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). Following the prohibition of the French Communist Party (PCF) by the government of Édouard Daladier, they were used to detain communist political prisoners. The Third Republic also interned German anti-Nazis (mostly members of the Communist Party of Germany, KPD).
Then, after the 10 July 1940 vote of full powers to Marshal Philippe Pétain and the proclamation of the État français (Vichy regime), these camps were used to intern Jewish people, Gypsies, and various political prisoners (anti-fascists from all countries). Vichy opened up so many camps that it became a full economic sector, to the extent that historian Maurice Rajsfus writes: "The quick opening of new camps created jobs, and the Gendarmerie never ceased to hire during this period." In any case, most of these camps were closed definitively after the liberation of France at the end of World War II. Some were however used during the Algerian War (1954–1962). Several of these were then used to intern harkis (Algerians who had fought on the French side) after the 19 March 1962 Évian Accords. Finally, the Camp de Rivesaltes in the Pyrénées-Orientales and the camp of Bourg-Lastic in the Puy de Dôme were also used to intern Kurdish refugees from Iraq in the 1980s.
The first internment camps were opened during the First World War (1914–1918) to detain civilian prisoners (mainly German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman). These prisoners were detained in Pontmain in the department of Mayenne, Fort-Barreaux in Isère, in the military camp of Graveson (Bouches-du-Rhône), in Frigolet near Tarascon (Bouches-du-Rhône), Noirlac (Abbey) (Cher), and Ajain(Creuse).
Other internment camps were used for Armenians in the 1920s-1930s (Mirabeau camp, Victor Hugo camp and Oddo Camp in Marseille); Gypsies after the 1912 Act on nomadism (for instance in the Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans, but also in iron mines in the Manche and other disaffected industrial centers in Mayenne, in the Manche, in Loire-Atlantique, in the Sarthe, in the Maine-et-Loire, etc.).
The most infamous internment camps before World War II were used to intern the Spanish Republican refugees and military personnel during the Spanish Civil War. In 2 weeks in January and February 1939 around 500,000 men, women and children crossed the border. These were interned mostly in camps in the Roussillon Province, such as the Camp de concentration d'Argelès-sur-Mer although internment camps for defeated Spanish Republicans were established in all of French territory, even in Brittany, in the north-west of France. These camps were located in:
To these camps must be added the camps for the German prisoners in 1939 (sometimes overlapping with those above), and those of the Colonial Empire, not well known in Europe.
Furthermore, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who had been named Consul in Paris for Immigration, organized the transportation to Chile of 2,200 Spanish refugees who had been detained in the camps on board the Winnipeg, which departed on 2 August 1939, and arrived in Valparaíso at the beginning of September 1939.
After 1940 when the Nazi Germany divided France in occupied and free zone, the camps were also used to imprison jews, gays and gypsies and the original prisoners were used as forced labor to make the camps larger.
As early as 1939, the existing camps were indiscriminately filled with German anti-Nazis (Communists, German Jews, etc.) or pro-Nazi Germans or also Nazi prisoners of war. Following the 1940 defeat, and the 10 July 1940 vote of full powers installing the Vichy regime, these camps were filled with Jews, first with foreign Jews, then indifferently with foreign and French Jews. The Vichy government would progressively hand them up to the Gestapo, and they would all transit by Drancy internment camp, the last stop before concentration camps in the Third Reich and in Eastern Europe and the extermination camps.
Beside Jews, Germans and Austrians were immediately rounded-up in camps, as well as Spanish refugees, who were later deported. 5,000 Spaniards thus died in Mauthausen concentration camp. The French colonial soldiers were interned by the Germans on French territory, instead of being deported.
The Third Republic and the Vichy regime would successively call these places "reception camps" ("camps d'accueil"), "internment camps" ("camps d'internement"), "sojourn camps" ("camps de séjour"), "guarded sojourn camps" ("camps de séjour surveillés"), "prisoner camps" ("camps de prisonniers"), etc. Another category was created by the Vichy regime: the "transit camps" ("camps de transit"), referring to the fact the detainees were to be deported to Germany. Such "transit camps" included Drancy, Pithiviers, etc.
During the 1943 "Battle of Marseille" and urban scaping operations in the center of town, 20,000 people were expelled from their homes and interned during several months in military camps nearby Fréjus (La Lègue, Caïs and Puget).
There were no extermination camps in France. However, the camp of Struthof, or Natzweiler-Struthof, in Alsace, which is the only concentration camp created by Nazis on French territory (annexed by the Third Reich) did include a gas chamber which was used to exterminate at least 86 detainees (mostly Jewish) with the aim of constituting a collection of preserved skeletons (as this mode of execution did no damage to the skeletons themselves) for the use of Nazi professor August Hirt.
The Nazis also opened Struthof in Alsace (in the part annexed by the Reich).
Ilag (for Internierunslager) were internment camps established by the German Army to hold Allied civilians, captured in areas that were occupied by the Germans. They included US citizens caught in Europe by surprise when the war was declared in December 1941 and citizens of the British Commonwealth caught in areas engulfed by the Blitzkrieg.
Although not architecturally conceived as an internment camp, the Vel' d'Hiv (Winter Velodrome) was used during the July 1942 Roundup. Most internment camps, however, were not conceived as such. The Vel d'Hiv was also used during the Algerian War (see below).
Camps were also used after the Liberation to intern German prisoners. In Rennes, after General Patton's United States Third Army liberated the city on 4 August 1944, about 50,000 German prisoners were kept in four camps in a city of 100,000 inhabitants at the time.
Internment camps were used to receive French from Indochina following the end of the Indochina War in 1954, as well as approximatively 9,000 Hungarian refugees following the Budapest insurrection of 1956 (in Annecy, Colmar—Caserne Valter—, in Gap, in Le Havre, in Metz—Caserne Raffenel, in Montdauphin, in Montluçon—Caserne de Richemond—, in Nancy (camp de Chatelleraud), in Poitiers, in Rennes, in Rouen, in Strasbourg—caserne Stirn—and in Valdahon). Humanitarian concerns largely intertwined with repressive aims, and internment restrictions and assistance given to populations varied widely (Hungarian refugees were better treated than French from Indochina).
Internment was also put to use during the Algerian War (1954–1962), generally under the name of "camps de regroupement" ("regrouping camps"). Within Algeria, the colonial administration used a form of camps as a counter-insurgency tactic, with up to 2 millions civilians being internally deported in villages de regroupement) to prevent their falling under the influence of the opposing FLN forces. were brought to French metropolitan territory.
In France, some camps used under Vichy were opened again, in Paris in particular, to hold suspected FLN and other Algerian independentists.
Internment camps were also used to intern the harkis (Algerians who fought on the French Army's side) after the 19 March 1962 Évian Accords which put an official end to the war. Finally, the Camp de Rivesaltes in the Pyrénées-Orientales, and Bourg-Lastic in the Puy de Dôme, used to intern Jews, were also used to intern harkis in the 1960s, and Kurdish refugees from Iraq in the 1980s.
Alén Diviš (26 April 1900 – 15 November 1956) was a Czech painter known for his melancholic art. Having spent much of his life abroad, often working in solitude, he remained rather unknown during his life but has had a postmortem revival in the art world.Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp
Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp was a French-run Nazi transit camp for Jews in Beaune-la-Rolande, France. 18,000 Jews were held in the camp, most of them to be transported to Auschwitz. The camp was closed on 4 August 1943 by SS officer Alois Brunner, then commander of Drancy concentration camp, under direct orders from Heinrich Himmler.Camp Vernet
Le Vernet Internment Camp, or Camp Vernet, was a concentration camp in Le Vernet, Ariège, near Pamiers, in the French Pyrenees. In the Second World War, starting in 1940, the Vichy government used it to house prisoners considered suspect or dangerous to the government. From 1942 until June 1944, it was used as a holding camp for Jewish families awaiting deportation to other camps. The last transport out of the camp in June 1944 took the prisoners to Dachau concentration camp.Camp de Rivesaltes
The Camp de Rivesaltes, also known as Camp Maréchal Joffre, is a military camp in the commune of Rivesaltes nearby Perpignan in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales in the South of France. The camp was also used to detain civil populations several times between 1939 and 2007. Its darkest period was in 1942, when 2,251 Jews, including 110 children, were transferred from Rivesaltes via the Drancy internment camp to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz, where they were murdered.Camp des Milles
The Camp des Milles was a French internment camp, opened in September 1939, in a former tile factory near the village of Les Milles, part of the commune of Aix-en-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône). In October 2015, the site was chosen by UNESCO as the headquarters for its new Chair of Education for Citizenship, Human Sciences and Shared Memories.Chile–France relations
Chile–France relations refers to the diplomatic relations between Chile and France. Both nations are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization.Drancy internment camp
The Drancy internment camp was an assembly and detention camp for confining Jews who were later deported to the extermination camps during the German military administration of Occupied France during World War II. It was located in Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris, France. Between 22 June 1942, and 31 July 1944, during its use as an internment camp, 67,400 French, Polish, and German Jews were deported from the camp in 64 rail transports, which included 6,000 children. Only 1,542 remained alive at the camp when Allied forces liberated it on 17 August 1944.Drancy was under the control of the French police until 1943 when administration was taken over by the SS, who placed officer Alois Brunner in charge of the camp. In 2001, Brunner's case was brought before a French court by Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, which sentenced Brunner in absentia to a life sentence for crimes against humanity.Fort de Queuleu
The Fort de Queuleu is a fortification to the southeast of Metz, near Queuleu, France. Construction began while part of Lorraine was under French rule in 1868. After the interruption of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the fort was improved between 1872 and 1875 by the German Empire, which had conquered the area in the war. Renamed Fort Goeben, it formed part of the first ring of the fortifications of Metz. Functionally obsolete by the First World War, it saw no military action, but was used by the Germans as a detention center for members of the French Resistance during World War II.Fort de Romainville
Fort de Romainville, (in English, Fort Romainville) was built in France in the 1830s and was used as a Nazi concentration camp in World War II.Fort des Ayvelles
The Fort des Ayvelles, also known as the Fort Dubois-Crancé, is a fortification near the French communes of Villers-Semeuse and Les Ayvelles in the Ardennes, just to the south of Charleville-Mézières. As part of the Séré de Rivières system of fortifications, the fort was planned as part of a new ring of forts replacing the older citadel of Mézières with dispersed fortifications. With advances in the range and destructive power of artillery, the city's defensive perimeter had to be pushed away from the city center to the limits of artillery range. The Fort des Ayvelles was the only such fortification to be completed of the ensemble, as resources were diverted elsewhere. At the time of its construction the fort controlled the Meuse and the railway line linking Reims, Montmédy, Givet and Hirson. The Fort des Ayvelles was reduced in status in 1899, its masonry construction rendered obsolete by the advent of high-explosive artillery shells. However, it was re-manned for the First World War before it was captured by the Germans on 29 August 1914. The fort was partly destroyed in 1918. During the Battle of France in 1940 the fort was bombarded. French resisters were executed at Ayvelles during both world wars. At present the fort is maintained by a preservation society, and may be visited.Gurs internment camp
Gurs Internment Camp was a internment camp and prisoner of war camp constructed in 1939 in Gurs, a site in southwestern France, not far from Pau. The camp was originally set up by the French government after the fall of Catalonia at the end of the Spanish Civil War to control those who fled Spain out of fear of retaliation from Francisco Franco's regime. At the start of World War II, the French government interned 4,000 German Jews as "enemy aliens," along with French socialists political leaders and those who opposed the war with Germany.After the Vichy government signed an armistice with the Nazis in 1940, it became an Internment camp for mainly German Jews, as well as people considered dangerous by the government. After France's liberation, Gurs housed German prisoners of war and French collaborators.
Before its final closure in 1946, the camp held former Spanish Republican fighters who participated in the Resistance against the German occupation, because their stated intention of opposing the fascist dictatorship imposed by Franco made them threatening in the eyes of the Allies.Ilag
Ilag is an abbreviation of the German word Internierungslager. They were internment camps established by the German Army in World War II to hold Allied civilians, caught in areas that were occupied by the German Army. They included United States citizens caught in Europe by surprise when war was declared in December 1941 and citizens of the British Commonwealth caught in areas engulfed by the Blitzkrieg.
Amongst the internees were British born citizens who were resident in the Channel Islands. In October 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered the internment of 8,000 British, in retaliation for the internment by the British Army of 800 Germans living in Iran. The order was not carried out until it was reissued by Hitler in September 1942. The German commander of the islands, based in Jersey, was ordered to deport to camps in Germany all British citizens not born in the islands. The numbers were reduced, with around 2,200 men, women and children being deported.Laghouat prison camp
Laghouat prison camp was a detention centre at Laghouat in Saharan Algeria, maintained during the Second World War by Vichy France and later by the French Committee of National Liberation.
The camp was one of nine established by the French in the Sahara, primarily for dissidents, but from 1940 to 1942 it was used as an internment camp for British Empire servicemen, under the name Camp des internés britanniques Laghouat ("British Internees Camp Laghouat"). After the release of these men in November 1942, the camp was again used for North African internees, of whom many were Jewish.Pithiviers internment camp
Pithiviers internment camp was a Nazi transit camp in Pithiviers, France (roughly 80 km (50 mi) south of Paris), during the Second World War. Children were separated there from their parents; the adults were processed and deported to concentration camps farther away, usually Auschwitz. This was the fate of the novelist Irène Némirovsky.Political deportation and internment medal
The Political deportation and internment medal (French: Médaille de la déportation et de l'internement politique) is a commemorative medal awarded by the Ministry for veterans and war victims of the French Republic to its citizens who were deported or interned by the German occupation forces during World War 2.It was created by a law of 9 September 1948 defining the status of political deportees and internees declaring in its opening article “The Republic, grateful to those who contributed to the salvation of the country, bowed before them and before their families, determined the status of political deportees and internees, proclaim their rights and those of their successors”.Possession of the Political deportee or Political internee card, issued by the National Office for Veterans Affairs, established the right to wear the medal, the insignia being common to either status, but hanging from different ribbons sometimes also bearing distinctive clasps.Rieucros Camp
The Rieucros Camp was an internment camp on a forested hillside near Mende in the French department of Lozère that operated from January 1939 to February 1942. Prime Minister Édouard Daladier established the camp by decree on January 21, 1939 to isolate members of the International Brigades from French society after the defeat of the Second Spanish Republic and subsequent exile, known as la Retirada, in the Spanish Civil War. Other "suspicious and undesirable foreign men," sometimes accused of common law crimes, were also interned. After France's entry into World War II, authorities transferred the men to the camp of le Vernet and began to intern "suspicious and undesirable foreign women" in October 1939. Following the Battle of France, Rieucros fell in the southern unoccupied zone and the Vichy regime assumed control of the camp from Third Republican authorities. In February 1942, authorities transferred the entire camp population of women and children to the camp of Brens.Royallieu-Compiègne internment camp
The Royallieu-Compiègne was an internment and deportation camp located in the north of France in the city of Compiègne. French resistance fighters and Jews were among some of the prisoners held in this camp. It is estimated that around 40,000 people were deported from the Royallieu-Compiègne camp to other camps in the German territory of the time.A memorial of the camp, and another along the railway tracks commemorates the tragedy.Stefan Ryniewicz
Stefan Jan Ryniewicz (26 December 1903 – 9 March 1988) was a Polish diplomat and counselor of the Legation of Poland in Bern between 1940 and 1945. He was a member of the Bernese Group also called as Ładoś Group and played a crucial role in illegal manufacturing of thousands of Latin American passports to save Jews from the Holocaust.Yugoslav volunteers in the Spanish Civil War
The Yugoslav volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, known as Spanish fighters (Croatian: Španjolski borci, Slovene: Španski borci, Serbian: Шпански борци / Španski borci) and Yugoslav brigadistas (Spanish: brigadistas yugoslavos), was a contingent of volunteers from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that fought beside the Republican side (in support of the Second Spanish Republic) in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). An estimated 1,664 "Yugoslav brigadistas" fought in the war, out of whom c. 800 were killed in action. According to the Spanish statistics, 148 Yugoslav volunteers received the officer rank during the conflict.
Most of them fought in the battalions Dimitrov and Đuro Đaković of the International Brigades, and a large number of them participated and perished during the Battle of Ebro in 1938. They were recruited by the outlawed Communist Party of Yugoslavia, while in their home regions or through the recruitment center of the Comintern that Josip Broz Tito managed in Paris. There were four airmen among the volunteers the most notable one being the fighter pilot Božidar "Boško" Petrović who attained the flying ace status.
After the war, those who managed to flee across the Pyrenees, fell captive in internment camps in France, where the Yugoslav communist organization illegally repatriated many of them. Some of whom became leaders of the resistance against the Nazi occupation. Three members of the International brigades that fought on the Republican side ended up commanding the four armies of the Partisan Liberation Army that fought the Nazis in World War II: Peko Dapčević, Kosta Nađ and Petar Drapšin. Koča Popović was the partisan commander that was fighting for the Spanish Republican Armed Forces. On 5 November famous leader of Sisi La Tece 32 was injured in the Spain-Serbian clash, known as the Battle of Bilbao.