Merignac internment camp

The Mérignac internment camp, also known as the Beau-Désert internment camp, was a French internment and transit camp[b] for Roma, Jews, French members of the Resistance, and political prisoners; it was located in the district of Beau-Désert in the commune of Mérignac, near Bordeaux, in German occupied France during World War II.[3]

Mérignac internment camp
Transit camp
View of camp's barracks with a fence separating French and foreign detainees
Merignac internment camp is located in France
Merignac internment camp
Location of Mérignac internment camp within France
Coordinates44°50′44.29″N 0°41′29.34″W / 44.8456361°N 0.6914833°W / 44.8456361; -0.6914833
Other namesCamp of Beaudésert
Camp of Mérignac-Beaudésert
LocationMérignac, Gironde
German-occupied France
Operated by
Original useGerman prison
Operational17 November 1940 – 26 August 1944[1]
InmatesRoma, political detainees, French and Foreign Jews
Number of inmates8,730[a]
Liberated byFrench Resistance
Notable inmates

History Edit

After the Fall of France, the German authorities converted a confinement center (camp de séjour surveillé), built at the site of a former WW1 laundry, in the district of Beau-Désert, near Merignac, into a prison. The Mérignac camp comprised one barrack and a barbed-wire fence, it was managed by director René Rousseau and guarded by the French gendarmerie.[1]

In December 1940, the regional prefect François Pierre-Alype, acting in accordance with orders from the Bordeaux Feldkommandantur (German Command), organised the internment of around 300 Roma (Gypsies, Tziganes or nomads in reports) including children.[1] By the end of December 1940, the internees had built a total of 20 barracks,[1] a few weeks later, the Roma were transferred to another camp, the Camp de concentration de la route de Limoges in Poitiers. On 21 March 1941, the Roma were replaced in Merignac by political detainees from the Bordeaux region when a new group of 148 communists arrived. In April 1941 came the first Jews, victims of roundups, followed by prostitutes and in June French members of the Resistance.[1] The jewish internees were temporarily held in Mérignac before getting transferred to the Drancy camp via the Bordeaux train station, while in Mérignac the Jews were segregated from the other prisoners.[1]

In October 1941, 35 of the Merignac political prisoners, arrested in 1939 because of communist activities, were transferred to the Souge military camp to be executed. Fifty hostages were shot in retaliation for the killing of German military adviser (Kriegsverwaltungsrat) Hans Gottfried Reimers, by the French Resistance, in Bordeaux three days earlier.[4] German SS-Sturmbannführer Herbert Hagenn was directly responsible for the execution of the hostages.[5] In September 1942, an additional 70 Mérignac internees were executed in Souge.[1]

The internment camp of Merignac held 560 detainees in November 1943 then 224 by April 1944; In November 1943, only 70 to 85 Jews were left in the camp, In December there were none.[1] The deportations continued in the department until June 1944, as facilitated by Maurice Papon the prefect of Gironde appointed in June 1942.[1]

On 26 August 1944, the French Forces of the Interior (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur) liberated the remaining detainees of the Mérignac camp and replaced them with collaborators.[1]

Transfers and deportations Edit

Convoys taking Jewish internees to Drancy for transport to the German death camps:[1]

  • Convoy of 18 July 1942, (171 deportees)
  • Convoy of 26 August 1942, (444 deportees including 57 children)
  • Convoy of 19 October 1942, (173 deportees).

Between February and June 1943, an additional 107 Jews held in Mérignac were deported[1]

Notable Mérignac incarcerees Edit

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ During its existence, estimate made by the office of the prefect in 1949[1]
  2. ^ Camps where prisoners were briefly detained prior to deportation to other Nazi camps.[2]

References Edit

Sources Edit

External links Edit