Le Vernet Internment Camp, or Camp Vernet, was a concentration camp in Le Vernet, Ariège, near Pamiers, in the French Pyrenees. It was originally built in June 1918 to house French colonial troops serving in World War I but when hostilities ceased it was used to hold German and Austrian prisoners of war.
Between the wars, it served as a military depot. Towards the end of the Spanish Civil War, in February 1939, it was put to a new use. It became a reception camp for Republicans fleeing from Francisco Franco's armies after the collapse of the Second Spanish Republic. At this time, it held mainly former soldiers from the Republican Durruti Division.
With the outbreak of World War II, the role of the camp was expanded. It was used to house "undesirable" foreigners, in particular, anti-fascist intellectuals and former members of the International Brigades. After the Fall of France on 25 June 1940, it was taken over by the pro-Nazi Vichy France authorities, to house "all foreigners considered suspect or dangerous to the public order".
From 1942, Le Vernet was used as a holding centre for Jewish families awaiting deportation to Nazi labour and extermination camps. The final transport took place in June 1944 and took the remaining prisoners to Dachau concentration camp. One source says that "about 40,000 persons of 58 nationalities were interned in the camp".
Le Vernet features in in the 2012 novel Citadel by Kate Mosse, which follows the lives of a group of local people and resistance fighters.
- Max Aub
- Kurt Julius Goldstein
- Jesekiel David Kirszenbaum
- Leon Degrelle
- Arthur Koestler, who wrote about it in Scum of the Earth (1941) and The Invisible Writing.
- Rudolf Leonhard, German playwright and communist
- Heinrich Rau
- Sascha Schapiro
- Miguel García Vivancos
Sources and footnotes
- (English) Ariège history, website in English]
- (French) Ariège history, Chemins de Memoire, in French
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