Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spanish Slave Labourers and French Concentration Camps

This photograph is of Innocent Martin (then 87), the last surviving Spanish slave worker on Jersey, when laying a wrath with his wife Joan at a commemoration in 2006.
It was then that Spanish slave workers were recognized and commemorated for
the first time by the Government of Spain.
After Franco's victory in 1939, many Republicans crossed the Pyrenees into France; most of them ending up in concentration camps (it's painful how little known this fact is; yes, the French had concentration camps and the conditions were unimaginably bad), some made it to freedom and joined the Free French Forces (in French, in English), the resistance or made it to Britain to join the allied forces. Many of them perished in the camps or were sent back to Franco's Spain. More information on these camps (and their victims) can be found here, here and here.
But, back to the picture above. Many prisoners of the Nazi's were put to work in labour camps, in Germany or occupied territories.
Many Spanish (and many more Russians) were put to work on the German occupied Channel Island of Jersey. The living conditions and the labour regime were so bad, that most of the prisoners didn't live to see the end of the war.

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