Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beach Life in Rivesaltes (1939-1942)

The picture of this man with beret couldn't be further removed from the Southern Hemisphere Summer beach life we experience here at present.
The picture was taken in the concentration camp Rivesaltes, one of an estimated 31 camps in southern France.
Originally built as a military camp, it was turned into a refugee camp for displaced people from Spain in 1938 but later that year, it turned into a camp for Spanish Republicans who fled Spain after Franco's victory.

On this picture we see French Milices with black bérets Basque, escorting captured French members of the resistance.

After coming under the Vichy government, the story unfolds into an even nastier one, when the camp became a place of internment for Roma

and Jews, before they were sent to Auschwitz.
As in many concentration camps and ghettos, there were always people capable of continuing living as normal as possible, like Simone "Werlin" Weil-Lipman who organized a Boys Scouts Group, complete with berets, in the camp in 1942 (bottom picture).

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