Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Principal French Internment camps of WW2

Catherine's recent article posted to the 2WW Blog site regarding the recent installation of a memorial for the deportees from Les Milles near Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône, France) prompted me to look out some of my notes and works about WW2 in France. Les Milles was, in fact, but one of many internment camps distributed throughout France where not only Jewish internees were sent but also Gypsies, Freemasons, foreigners, anti-Nazis and other political opponents.

During WW2 the Allied countries (Britain, the USA etc) also interned some of their own nationals, or those who had originated from one of the opposing countries (Germany, Italy or Japan). For example, many British internees were sent to the Isle of Man, but the way they were treated and what happened to them afterwards was rather different to French internees.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below

21 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information (based largely on my university studies)

In the French 'Occupied Zone' (most of northern and western France) the most significant of the internment camps were at Drancy (Seine- St Denis), Compiègne (Oise), Pithiviers (Loiret) and Beaune-la-Rolande (Loiret). In addition, there were smaller internment camps at Les Tourelles (Paris), La Landes Monts (Indre-et-Loire), Ecrouves (Meurthe-et-Moselle), Poitiers and Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), Rouillé (Vienne).

The principal internment camps in the French 'Southern Zone' (under the Vichy Government) were at Gurs (Basses-Pyrénées), Rivesaltes (Pyrénées-Orientales) and, as referred to above, Les Milles (Bouches-du-Rhône). Among the smaller internment camps in the Vichy zone were those at Bram (Aude), Fort Barraux (Isère), Récébédou (Haute-Garonne), Nexon (Haute-Vienne), Noé (Haute-Garonne), Marseille (several hotels for women and children), Hotel Excelsior, Nice, Venissieux (Rhône), Brens (Tarn), Mérignac (Gironde), Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe (Tarn), Le Vernet (Ariège).

[The French département in which the internment camp is situated is given in brackets].

There have been many published works regarding the role of the Vichy Government in the 'Final Solution'. One of the most significant researchers in this area has been Serge Klarsfield. The details of the internees deported from the French internment camps such as Drancy to Auschwitz concentration camp are, for the most part, still in existence. Only a very small percentage of those who were deported from France survived. Some of the convoys had no survivors at all. Auschwitz was definitely a place for children.

One family I know of, the Rachnudels, had managed to escape the 'Grand Rafle' at Paris in 1942 and found shelter in the Vichy zone at the small village of Badaroux (Lozère). M. Rachnudel was a tailor, and the only one of the family to survive the war. Mme Rachnudel and their French-born five children all perished in the Shoah. Officials acting on behalf of the Vichy Government rounded them up from the village on the road that led to Auschwitz. Mme Arunka Rachnudel was in her mid-30s when she died. The children who perished were Marcelle, Jacqueline, Claudine, Jean-Claude and Eliane. They were aged between 1 and 13 years of age. Their names should be spoken and remembered as a loving family who never harmed anyone.
Au revoir Arunka et les enfants ! May they long be remembered!

Wednesday, 25 February, 2009  
Blogger Catherine L said...

This is a very acurate post - thanks for mentioning the enormous work done and published by Serge Klarsfeld. The lists he published and provided helped put up plaques in the memory of children in many cities of the country.
You are quite right to point out that the camps in the Southern Zone were not 'reserved' for the Jews. At the ouset of the war, all supposedly enemy aliens were asked to go there, and many went of their own free will. The Germans who had fled the Nazi regime were then considered enemies of France - even though they would have been arrested in Germany. Among them were a number of German Jews, and also a few German pro-Nazis who followed the Germans when they later came to fetch them. Actress Dita Parlo was one of them.

Note that Gurs and Rivesaltes were the only western destination for German Jews from Baden-Wurtemberg. They were massively arrested and sent there - the only case of a westward deportation.
Another detail: in Nice the Hotel Excelsior was not a camp per se, it was a detention place, like a triage, but much smaller than the others.

Thank you for mentioning the names of the children. Serge Klarsfeld has also published an album with the photos of the children who were deported. I wonder if the surviving Rachnudel was able to save photos of his family and if they are now preserved in this sad album.

Wednesday, 25 February, 2009  
Blogger Catherine L said...

PS - re-reading your previous post, I notice you mention the family photos I was asking about. Have they been sent to Serge Klarsfeld yet? If not, please let me know.

Wednesday, 25 February, 2009  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The original photographs (and some other items) belongiing to the Rachnudels were left with the Nogaret family who had given them sanctuary at Badaroux between the time they escaped from Paris until being deported. M. Jean-Pierre Nogaret (son of this family) necame a 'Refractaire' (like the singer Georges Brassens and many others) to avoid being sent to Germany for civilian work.

Jean-Pierre later wrote a book about these experiences and there are photographs of the Rachnudel family in the book. He also sent copies of the photographs of the Rachnudels to the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem so they would be remembered. These can be viewed online if you go to the Yad Vashem website and do a search.

Jean-Pierre (who is now deceased unfortunately) allowed me to interview himn at depth for my university studies, and I was given a copy of his book, copies of some of the photographs etc. I also have copies of the witness statements sen for the Yad Vashem project and some photographs of Jean-Pierre and others of his relatives.

I did scan some of the photographs, although not ones I have of the Rachnudel family. However, I did translate some of what I had written in French about Badaroux into English and posted it to the BBC "People's War":

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/20/a3685520.shtml
[This one is about how Jean-Pierre escaped from a German firing squad in August 1944. It also has a photo of me with Jean-Pierre and one of his grandsons]

(2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/21/a3560221.shtml
[This one is mainly about the Rachnudel family. Evidence from just after the war shows the family were 'rounded up' at Badaroux on 8 February 1944, sent to Drancy on 10 February and from there to Auschwitz on 10 March 1944].

The evidence is quite clear what happened. There were many such families for whom this was the final outcome. I do not find the Holocaust as easy to write about, or think about, as most aspects of WW2. People should be aware of what happened - we cannot change history! So it was good to see your original article about the Memorial, Catherine.

Thursday, 26 February, 2009  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The original photographs (and some other items) belongiing to the Rachnudels were left with the Nogaret family who had given them sanctuary at Badaroux between the time they escaped from Paris until being deported. M. Jean-Pierre Nogaret (son of this family) necame a 'Refractaire' (like the singer Georges Brassens and many others) to avoid being sent to Germany for civilian work.

Jean-Pierre later wrote a book about these experiences and there are photographs of the Rachnudel family in the book. He also sent copies of the photographs of the Rachnudels to the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem so they would be remembered. These can be viewed online if you go to the Yad Vashem website and do a search.

Jean-Pierre (who is now deceased unfortunately) allowed me to interview himn at depth for my university studies, and I was given a copy of his book, copies of some of the photographs etc. I also have copies of the witness statements sen for the Yad Vashem project and some photographs of Jean-Pierre and others of his relatives.

I did scan some of the photographs, although not ones I have of the Rachnudel family. However, I did translate some of what I had written in French about Badaroux into English and posted it to the BBC "People's War":

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/20/a3685520.shtml
[This one is about how Jean-Pierre escaped from a German firing squad in August 1944. It also has a photo of me with Jean-Pierre and one of his grandsons]

(2) http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/21/a3560221.shtml
[This one is mainly about the Rachnudel family. Evidence from just after the war shows the family were 'rounded up' at Badaroux on 8 February 1944, sent to Drancy on 10 February and from there to Auschwitz on 10 March 1944].

The evidence is quite clear what happened. There were many such families for whom this was the final outcome. I do not find the Holocaust as easy to write about, or think about, as most aspects of WW2. People should be aware of what happened - we cannot change history! So it was good to see your original article about the Memorial, Catherine.

Thursday, 26 February, 2009  
Blogger Catherine L said...

After checking Klarsfeld's book containing the lists of deportees from France, the name of this family does not appear!
I have found them on the Yad Vashem website, however, as you indicated.
It would be very useful now for me to have the references of the book written by Jean Pierre Nogaret, and clearer photographs of the children in particular. You see, the older ones must have attended school in Paris, and their names may have been omitted on a plaque there. I agree, of course, that their names should be spoken and not forgotten, this is why we should also check this carefully and get in touch, maybe via Peter G?


Thank you for all this.

Friday, 27 February, 2009  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The CDJC at Paris (the Contemporary Jewish Documentation Centre) may have the details as well. Cross checking with one of the books I have on the subject, I think the Rachnudel family would have been on the convoy from Paris / Bobigny to Auschwitz that left on 7 March 1944, arriving on 10 March, which ties in with the information the people in Badaroux discovered later. This particular convoy had 1501 deportees, of which only 34 survived (2.2%). Children - and mothers of young children - did not last long at Auschwitz.

Two other Jewish refugees from the Paris area had already made it to Badaroux before the Rachnudel family: Messieurs Lazare and Scharff. M Rachnudel was next to arrive, obtaining a room with the Nogarets. I think he had known them in Paris. Mme Rachnudel and the children arrived later. The family then lived with Jean-Pierre’s uncle (M. Renouard).

When the Gestapo / ‘milice’ arrived, they collected the parents and baby from their home and then turned up at the village school to collect the older children. There is a similar scene in the film ‘Au revoir les enfants’. In Jean-Pierre’s book about his experiences in the Second World (‘Mémoires d’un réfractaire’) there is a witness statement from the village schoolteacher (Mlle Bonicel) The relevant scene when the Gestapo turn up at the school in ‘Au revoir les enfants’ is very reminiscent of what happened in reality at Badaroux. As you deduce, the older children would have attended school in Paris beforehand as well.

It is likely that it should be possible to trace the fate of the deported families from your own area, Catherine, especially as the names were read out at the recent memorial service you attended. In the case of the children who were deported in 1942 I doubt there will be a happy outcome at the end.

For your information, M Nogaret’s book was published at Marvejols in April 1990. I am fairly sure there is a WW2 museum in Lozère which has all this information as well, but I have not visited it.

Strangely, I was recently given a copy of Jean-Pierre at a British Legion veterans march in my home county of Cumbria (1986). The photograph was in the collection of Mrs Angelina O’Brien (originally Greek nationality), who survived the German Occupation of Athens. I also recently posted a story about Angelina’s wartime experiences to this website. On that day M Nogaret was marching with Angelina’s husband Pat (who had been in the army in WW2). I was really chuffed to see them together. Sometimes it is a nice surprise to be given a copy of a photograph of an 'old friend' like this.

Friday, 27 February, 2009  
Blogger Catherine L said...

What I meant is that the names of these particular children may not have been collected by Serge Klarsfeld for some reason. They should appear in his books.
Serge Klarsfeld also collects the photographs of the children in a book so that they should be remembered as faces, too.

(There have been exhibits of the photos in many railway stations in France with the help of the SNCF (rail company) to remind people that from these places people were taken to their deaths.)

I am having this checked out at the moment, and hope that if these children have been neglected the error will be corrected.

So, no happy outcome, unfortunately, just a hope that their names will be remembered and spoken out loud in several places.

Friday, 27 February, 2009  
Blogger Catherine L said...

The small mystery is solved. The family are indeed in the books... only the spelling of their name was RAJCHNUDEL. They were deported from Montpellier, transport n°69.
May they be forever remembered.

Friday, 27 February, 2009  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Thanks Catherine,

I had just thought about a possible discrepancy in spelling the names. The surname would originally have come from Hebrew or Polish, and the slight spelling discrepancy would have come when writing the name in French. Naturally, I have been using the spelling as used by the people at Badaroux, which M. Nogaret has always used.

Slight spelling differences in names seem to be quite common, especially when a change of country and / or language has been involved. For about two years or so I have been involved on compiling a 'Roll of Honour' for Cleator Moor, Cumbria. There are a some discrepancies in the surnames for many of the WW1 and WW2 casualties from this area, and it has not been easy at times to see everyone has been included. Partly this is due to the fact the vast majority of families in the area were immigrants to the area from the mid-19th C onwards, many of them Irish, Italian or Eastern European. Many of them could not write or spell their own surname (including some of my own ancestors). So it can take a while to check you have the correct people and / or the correct spelling of the name. It is important to try and get the information correct

In addition, Catholic Church records used to be written in Latin, rather than English. So, just as there may be spelling differences in the names between Hebrew and French (in the case of the Rachnudel family) there are spelling differences between Latin and English for Catholic families. For example, ‘James’ becomes ‘Jacobus’, ‘John’ becomes Johannus’ and so on.

Also, in WW1 there were also some Belgian refugees who moved to the Cleator Moor area, just as they did in going many parts of France in the same era. Quite a few of the Belgian families in West Cumbria changed their surnames to avoid being mistaken as Germans. Sometimes it is not easy sorting out the names!

I am pleased that the Rachnudels are remembered. The only reason for what happened to them was due to their religion. They were no threat to anybody, and on the contrary were valued members of the community where they lived.

Monday, 02 March, 2009  
Blogger Hels said...

thanks for the link to your post. I was looking for material on the internment camps on the Isle of Man and came across your excellent blog.

Hels
Art and Architecture, mainly

Sunday, 22 November, 2009  
Blogger Catherine L said...

Thanks for the comment.
I would be very interested in additional information on the Isle of Man camps - or any documentation, and also for teaching purposes, as this is very little known in France.
Thanks for your help.

Monday, 23 November, 2009  
Blogger Peter G said...

The only two books I know of on the Isle of Man internment camps are:

Island of Barbed Wire and
'Collar the Lot!' at Amazon, UK.

These are the links to Amazon, France:
Island of Barbed Wire and
'Collar the Lot!' Amazon France

Tuesday, 24 November, 2009  
Blogger Hels said...

many thanks, Peter G.

I didn't mention Collar The Lot in the post called Isle of Man Internment Camps, 1940
http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com/2009/11/isle-of-man-internment-camps-1940.html
and I will go and add it now.

Other peoples' blogs are very useful, and so are other peoples' comments. Many thanks.

Tuesday, 24 November, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father was interned with his family in Vittel concentration camp camp in about 1942, in Vittel, France. It was hospital and hotel I think l that was taken by the germans to intern political prisoners of war. My father who was a jew, although french was also a citizen of Cuba so he was sent there rather than as a French Jew. He and a part of his family were saved because they were traded for German soldiers interned in Cuba. There were many Jew in Vittel. And I believe many were sent to Aushwitz and gassed. I did not see a mention of Vittel and it needs to be there.

Monday, 03 October, 2011  
Anonymous Schilling said...

My father was interned at the concentration camp in Vittel, France. He was jewish and Frrench, but he also was a Cuban citizen. So when the police came to get him and his family they could not take them as French jews but as political prisoners. My father and his father and brother and sister were eventually traded for Germans in an internment camp in Cuba. There were many jews in Vittel and many were sent to Aushwitz. There need to be a mention of this. Thank you

Monday, 03 October, 2011  
Blogger Cathie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Monday, 03 October, 2011  
Blogger Cathie said...

How interesting! Thanks for posting this. I can refer you to this site, that is extremely well-documented, hoping you read French :
http://www.ajpn.org/internement-Camp-de-Vittel-215.html
I know many of our co-bloggers will be able to read it and will be amazed at this information, which I am also discovering, thanks to your comment.

Monday, 03 October, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

To connect to the French website about the internment camp at Vittel that Catherine refers to in the previous posting:

[Click here]

Monday, 03 October, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

(Update, April 2014)
Click on the following link to see a photograph of a group of British internees in a civilian internment camp in Vichy France:
Interned in Vichy France
++++++++++++++++++

Saturday, 12 April, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about camps in the Haute-Savoie and Savoie? Any near Ugine and Annecy?

Thursday, 26 June, 2014  

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