France in World War II

French Concentration Camps Research

Concentration camps are not a favorable subject in France. They are embarrassed to speak of them because they did not like to be thought of in this way.

Towards the beginning of 1940, the French government captured about 4,000 German Jewish refugees. Along with refugees, French leftist political leaders who opposed the war with Germany were also confined.

Concentration Camps in France:
(the ones in blue have history below)
Sub Camps:
  • Abadla
  • Ain el Ourak
  • Bechar
  • Berguent
  • Bogari
  • Bouarfa
  • Djelfa
  • Kenadsa
  • Meridja
  • Missour
  • Tendrara

  • Location: Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris
  • Founded: August 1941
  • Founded by: Phillipe Pètain, French police controlled the camp
  • Original Purpose: internment camp for foreign Jews in France
  • Purpose: the major transit camp for the releasing of Jews from France
  • Conditions: very difficult for Jewish prisoners because of the lack of food, over-crowding, unsanitary facilities, and not having one’s everyday needs like even a toothbrush. Also, there was a lot of evidence found about the brutality of the guards in Drancy.
  • Important Dates During The Camp:
o 1941: Jewish victims of raids were sent to Drancy. The Nazis ordered French police to attack.
o Summer of 1942: This was the beginning of the period of time when Jews were sent to extermination camps. Jews were deported to Poland, which was occupied by the Germans at the time.
o July 1943: Germans took control of Drancy camp
o July 31, 1944: last transport of Jews.

Important Fact:
64,759 Jews were deported from Drancy in 64 transports
Fewer than 2,000 of the almost 65,000 Jews deported from the Drancy camp survived the Holocaust.

  • Location: about 50 miles from the Spanish border, was situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains northwest of Oloron-Sainte-Marie
  • Founded: April 1939
  • Founded by: French Government
  • Original Purpose: First designed to take in Spanish refugees who were fleeing at the time from Franco, the head of Spain at the time
  • Purpose: Gurs served as a detention camp for political refugees and members of the International Brigade fleeing Spain after the Spanish Civil War.
  • Conditions: difficult conditions because of scarce food, no sanitation, no running water, and especially poor drainage in the camp
  • Important Dates:
o 1940-1941: 800 detainees died of contagious diseases, including typhoid fever and dysentery
o November 1943: the Gurs camp was closed by Vichy authorities
o It was reopened briefly to house prisoners of war in Germany and at another time to hold German collaborators and hold German prisoners.
o End of 1945: officially closed

Important Statistic:
Almost 22,000 prisoners had passed through Gurs, of whom over 18,000 were Jewish. More than 1,100 internees died in the camp.


o Location: Schirmeck, which is near Natzweiler, France, about 31 miles southwest of Strasburg in eastern France
o Founded by: Nazis on French soil, the only one to be built by Nazis in France
o Founded: 1940, but the construction of camp completed in 1941
The camp held about 1,500 prisoners. Prisoners worked in nearby granite quarries, in construction projects, and in the maintenance of the camp.
o Purpose: a forced labor camp, primarily for local opponents of the German occupation
o Conditions: extreme working conditions, prisoners of the camp were used for medical experiments
Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, socialists, and others were tortured and murdered.

Important Dates:
  • Important Dates:
  • August 1943: a gas chamber was put in Natzweiler-Struthof
  • November 23, 1944: French Army liberated the camp

Important Fact and Statistic:
Before the construction of the camp was finished, prisoners of Natzweiler slept in the nearby former Hotel Struthof
By the fall of 1944, there were about 7,000 prisoners in the main camp and more than 20,000 in the 50 sub-camps of Natzweiler.

Works Cited
“Drancy.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <‌wlc/‌en/‌article.php?ModuleId=10005215>.
“DRANCY: A Concentration Camp in Paris 1941-1944.” DRANCY CONCENTRATION CAMP. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. <‌HOME.html>.
Drancy Transit Camp (France). N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. <‌ForgottenCamps/‌Camps/‌DranEngl.html>.
Ferree, Chuck. “Concentration Camp Listing.” Jewish Virtual Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <‌jsource/‌Holocaust/‌cclist.html>.
“Gurs.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. <‌wlc/‌en/‌article.php?ModuleId=10005298>.
“Natzweiler-Struthof.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. <‌wlc/‌en/‌article.php?ModuleId=10007260>.

Drancy Concentration Camp
DrancyConcentrationCamp. N.d. Wikipedia. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.

Natzweiler-Struthof, the only Nazi built concentration camp on French soil
Struthof. N.d. Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.

Picuture of how many people looked in the concentration camps
"World War II Concentration Camp." Color Pictures of World War II Royalty Free.
N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2010. <

A prisoner at the Buchenwald Concentration camp holds a human bone as he stands in front of a pile of bones shoveled out of a crematory.
"World War II Concentration Camp." Color Pictures of World War II Royalty Free.
N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2010. <

Chart for prisoner markings that are in concentration camps
"Prisoner Marking Chart." Nasioc. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
< >.
external image clip_image002.png