Camp de concentration d'Argelès-sur-Mer

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The Camp de concentration d'Argelès-sur-Mer was a concentration camp established in February 1939[1] on the territory of the French commune of Argelès-sur-Mer for members of the retirada. The retirada was the retreat of the remains of the Spanish Republican Army (Ejército Popular Republicano) after their defeat in the Spanish Civil War. The commune and the camp were on the Mediterranean coast at the east end of the Pyrenees, 25 km north of Cap de Creus. The camp at Argelès received more than 100,000 Spanish refugees. Many of these refugees were Communists, or had supported the Communist elements in the Spanish Republic.

These men and women were forced to leave the country they had brutally fought for, defeated by dictator Franco and his new oppressive regime. The conditions were sub-par in this concentration camp, and the prisoners faced many diseases. The guards would bring around petroleum baths to combat the plagues of fleas and lice. Efforts to encourage the refugees to return to Spain were common. The concentration camps were very large and unkept. It was easy to see dead bodies piled in areas throughout the camp that were left in the open. These people died of hypothermia, disease, or despair.

Notable prisoners[edit]


Commemorative monument for the survivors of the retirada (retreat).

Inscription on the commemorative monument on the northern beach of Argelès-sur-Mer:

A la mémoire des 100.000 Républicains Espagnols, internés dans le camp d'Argelès, lors de la RETIRADA de Février 1939. Leur malheur: avoir lutté pour défendre la Démocratie et la République contre le fascisme en Espagne de 1936 à 1939. Homme libre, souviens toi.

In memory of the 100.000 Spanish republicans, interned in the Camp of Argelès, during the RETIRADA in February 1939. Their disgrace: having fought for defending democracy and the republic against fascism in Spain from 1936 to 1939. Free Men, remember them.

(A la memoria de los 100.000 republicanos españoles, internados en el campo de Argelès, tras la RETIRADA de febrero de 1939. Su desgracia: haber luchado para defender la Democracia y la República contra el fascismo en España de 1936 a 1939. Hombre libre, acuérdate.)[2]


  1. ^ Szajkowski, Zosa (1966) "Argelès-sur-Mer" Analytical Franco-Jewish Gazetteer, 1939-1945 privately published, New York, p. 245, OCLC 150466938
  2. ^ NODO 50: Actos en Argelés-sur-Mer

Further reading[edit]

  • Espinar, Jaime (1940) "Argelés-sur-mer": Campo de Concentración para Españoles Editorial "Elite", Caracas, Venezuela, OCLC 39325331; available on microfiche OCLC 156061478, in Spanish
  • Ferrer Rodriguez, Eulalio (1987) Entre Alambradas: Diario de los campos de concentracion Pangea, Mexico City, ISBN 968-6177-14-0, in Spanish
  • Garcia, John Andres (2008) "The International Brigades and the Refugee Camps of the south of France" Manning Clark House Inc., Forrest, Australia, [1]
  • MacMaster, Neil and Granda, David (1990) Spanish Fighters: An oral history of civil war and exile St. Martin's Press, New York, ISBN 0-333-51021-6
  • Stephen, Walter M. (2001) La Retirada: Sixty Years on at Argeles Hills of Home, Edinburgh, Scotland, OCLC 47272024

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°34′30″N 3°02′43″E / 42.575°N 3.04528°E / 42.575; 3.04528