The French internment camp that symbolizes the shameful fate of refugees


On the French side of the Catalan plain, to the east of the Pyrenees, a land baked by the sun in summer and buffeted for most of the year by the dry, northern Tramontane wind, stood an internment camp that represented many of the horrors of the 20th century, including those committed on French soil. Home to some 600,000 people from 1941 to 1964, Rivesaltes Camp held first Spaniards who had fled General Franco’s regime at the end of the Spanish Civil War, then Jews and gypsies incarcerated by the Vichy regime, and finally Harkis who had fled Algeria after 1962, when the country won its independence from France, its former colonial master.

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