Cet article a été publié dans FR2DAY en 2012 (this article was published in FR2DAY in 2012)
French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is inaugurating today near Aix-en-Provence the “Camp des Milles Memorial”, an ambitious commemorative and educational project dedicated to the internments and deportations that took place during World War Two.
Opened in 1939 in a former tile factory in the little provencal village of Les Milles, the “Camp” was initially an internment camp for all the Austrian and German nationals living in the South of France who had fled the Reich after 1933. Following the French defeat in June 1940 however, it was turned into a transit station before becoming a Jewish deportation camp. In August and September 1942, around 2,500 Jewish men, women and children were deported to Auschwitz by the Vichy government.
In total, nearly 10,000 people from 27 different counties were incarcerated in the camp, among whom many politicians, literary figures (Fritz Brugel, Lion Feuchtwanger, William Herzog, Alfred Kantorowicz, Golo Mann, son of Thomas Mann…), scientists (Nobel prize-winner Otto Meyerhof…), musicians and painters (Erich Itor Kahn, Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Herman Henry Gowa, Gustave “Gus” Herlich, Max Lingner, Ferdinand Springer, Franz Meyer…). All those intellectuals and artists developed an active cultural life creating and leaving behind many works that can still be seen there.
Of the 200 internment, transit and deportation camps that once existed in France, the Camp des Milles is the only one that is still in good condition today. From now on, it should become an important memorial site whose main goal is to strengthen the visitors’ vigilance and responsibility, especially the young visitor, constantly faced with threats of racism, anti-semitism, fanaticism and totalitarianism.
The “Camp des Milles Memorial” is one of the flagship projects for the “Marseille-Provence, European Capital of Culture 2013” initiative, decided by the European Union and it is estimated that around 100,000 persons per year will visit this exceptional historical monument.