Charles Paulmyer, camp des Milles, 1939.

Internment, transit, deportation
Robert Mencherini Historian

In the early days of September 1939, the French government decreed that Germans and Austrians living in France should be interned. They had become “enemy subjects” since the declaration of war between France and Germany, and many of them had fled the Nazi regime were now living in south-eastern France. In the 15th military region (corresponding to what is now the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region), plus the Ardèche and the Gard, their main internment camp was an old tile factory south of Aix-en-Provence, on the edge of the small village of Les Milles.

The factory, closed two years previously, belonged to the Rastoin family and the Société des Tuileries de la Méditerranée. It was served by the little station of Les Milles, and consisted of one vast main building with three floors, plus various outbuildings spread out over a site of 46,800 m2. Requisitioned at first before being leased to the State, it was surrounded by barbed wire and arranged in rough and ready manner by the soldiers of the 4th battalion of the 156th regional regiment, sent over from Privas and mostly Ardéchois in origin. With Captain Charles Goruchon in command, these same soldiers then took on the supervision and management of the camp until the defeat in 1940.

Born out of circumstance, the Camp des Milles gradually took shape according to developments in the war and the upheavals that took place in France at the time. From September 1939 to the end of 1942, it served three distinct and successive functions. It was used first under the Third Republic as an internment camp for those considered “enemy subjects” during the hostilities; then, in the autumn of 1940, under the Vichy government, it became an internment and transit camp for “undesirables” foreigners wanting to leave France. Later on, from August to September 1942, it was an assembly point for those Jews – men, women and children – considered foreigners and delivered to the Germans by the French authorities with a view to their deportation to the extermination camps.

Read an excerpt from the text by Angelika Gausmann.

Read an excerpt from the text by Olivier Lalieu.

Read an excerpt from the text by Atelier Novembre.

See a preview of the book. (Flash sequence)

Memory of the Camp des Milles 1939-1942

Yves Jeanmougin

Robert Mencherini
Angelika Gausmann
Olivier Lalieu
Atelier Novembre

Preface by Alain Chouraqui

Photos published in this book were taken between 2008 and 2012.

Hardcover book / 27 x 27 cm in size / 240 pages /
360 illustrations in both b & w and colour
Métamorphoses / Le Bec en l’air (2013)
ISBN 978-2-916073-97-2

29 €

Also available in French:
Mémoire du camp des Milles 1939-1942

Edition produced in partnership with:

Logo of the FCMME and link towards the Web site of the Site-Mémorial du Camp des Milles

and with the help of:

Logo du Mémorial de la Shoah

This book is available at the Camp des Milles Memorial Site,
in bookshops or directly from:

Friche la Belle de Mai 41 rue Jobin 13003 Marseille / France

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Robert Mencherini Historian, honorary university professor of contemporary history, Robert Mencherini is specialist in political and social history, the history of the Resistance, Vichy and the workers’ movement. He is a member of both the Scientific Council and the board of the Camp des Milles Foundation – Memory and Education, as well as a researcher working in the mixed research unit of the TELEMME (Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l’homme / Université de Provence). One work stands out in his prolific output, a tetralogy entitled Midi rouge, ombres et lumières, Une histoire politique et sociale de Marseille et des Bouches-du-Rhône de 1930 à 1950, Éditions Syllepse (2004, 2009, 2011, 2013).